I think a lot about ethics, especially since this class. As an instructor, I have real ethical dilemmas that come up and that I have the power to influence. I think the main realization that I have come to is that there are no (or at least not many) absolutes. That for every good and moral act there are certain situations that can turn that same act into something that does harm to someone. I try to be consistent but I’m not guided by absolutes.
For instance, I had a student make a mistake in their citations that would obviously be counted as plagiarism. The student was a freshman and had come from one of the worst high schools in the state of Virginia. I sat down and talked with her about her paper and asked her about the issues with her citations. I believed her when she said that she had never been exposed to these ideas before. She was currently in the University 101 class that teaches students about plagiarism and citations but they hadn’t gotten to that section yet. Rather than report the student, I took off points and gave her an opportunity to redo the whole thing and put the correct citations in.
I’m not sure if this was the right thing to do or not because I have referred other students to the integrity board, but I also don’t think it would be ethical to put such a dark strike against the student who was obviously making an effort and doing her best. The better teaching moment I thought was to allow her to fix her mistake.
This class has made me think about ethics and the classroom in new ways.