Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Dimensions of Student Perceptions of Faculty Ethical Behavior: Refining a Measure and Relationships with Selected Outcome Variables

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Dimensions of Student Perceptions of Faculty Ethical Behavior: Refining a Measure and Relationships with Selected Outcome Variables

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Scale items used in previous studies of student perceptions of faculty ethical behavior were administered to a sample of undergraduate business students in order to assess the dimensionality of these perceptions. Results suggest five distinct dimensions of student perceptions of faculty ethical behavior. These empirically derived dimensions were then related to three outcome variables, satisfaction with the university, intent to remain in the current degree program, and intent to transfer to another university. Results of this analysis suggest that one dimension of faculty ethical behavior is related to student satisfaction with the university, and that satisfaction, in turn, was related to student intent to transfer to a different university.

INTRODUCTION

Recent developments in business (e.g., Enron, Adelphia, Tyco, WorldCom, and Andersen Consulting) and politics (e.g., the expulsion of James Traficant from the House of Representatives, and the recent Letter of Admonition from the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee to Senator Robert G. Torricelli) has brought ethics to the forefront of public debate and media attention. However, while several scholars have suggested that teaching is rife with ethical dilemmas (Svinicki, 1994), relatively little empirical research has been conducted on ethics in academia (Tabachnick, Keith-Spiegel & Pope, 1991; Keith-Spiegel, Tabachnick, and Allen, 1993). The little research on faculty ethical behavior which has been conducted has typically focused on such topics as sexual harassment and has largely ignored the many daily ethical dilemmas which occur in faculty-student interactions (Tabachnick, Keith-Spiegel & Pope, 1991). Surprisingly, there is very little research on student perceptions of faculty ethical behavior, and the outcomes of those perceptions (Morgan & Korschgen, 2001). The few studies which have addressed student perceptions of faculty ethical behavior have ignored significant methodological issues, such as the dimensionality of the rating instrument used to assess student perceptions, and the validity and reliability of the measurement. The primary purpose of this study is to improve the measurement of student perceptions of faculty ethical behavior. Items from previous questionnaires related to a narrow range of faculty behaviors dealing with the professor-student interaction as well as additional items to more fully capture this domain will be examined for content validity, dimensionality, and reliability. Identifying dimensions of student perceived faculty ethical behavior will enable researchers to create a valid and reliable scale which can then be used to examine outcomes of student perceptions, such as student retention. Relationships between these empirically-derived dimensions of student perceived faculty ethical behavior and selected outcome variables (student course satisfaction and intent to remain in their current degree program or retention) will then be examined.

ETHICAL BEHAVIOR

Ethical behavior is rather difficult to define precisely given its origin in personal, organizational and societal values (Ball, 2001). Not that long ago, ethics was defined largely in terms of complying with the law. While, expectations have risen in recent years, it is difficult to draw a precise line between what is generally considered ethical behavior, and what is not. In a general sense, what is considered ethical behavior is what "most people" would consider right and wrong. Clearly, different groups may define ethical behavior differently. Therefore, one determinant of ethical behavior is the context within which it occurs. Ethical behavior in one industry or occupation may be quite different from another. Ultimately, an individual's ethics are his or her beliefs about what is right or wrong, good or bad (Garrett & Klonoski, 1992). Thus, an individual's actual ethical behavior is influenced by his or her personal beliefs and values, the climate of the organization, as well as society's values. …

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