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Encouraging students' ethical behavior

How to Build an Ethics Curriculum 

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Role of the Professor

The job of the professor is not only about providing knowledge and teaching skills. It covers instilling moral and ethical values in students too.  

In this post, a professional custom essay writer from, presents her views on the moral education of young men.

Ethics for students: teaching methods & principles

Honesty and integrity are the two main features for reaching success. They result in high productivity, personal growth, and, finally, a good reputation. Democracy is built on moral principles and laws of justice. If you want to advance moral development, you have to follow ethical rules. The role of the educators is to convey these thoughts to students.

Ethical responsibilities of college professors in encouraging ethical behavior of their students

Professors are responsible for the development of moral character of their students. By their example, as well with the help of well-organized work in this regard, they help young people to develop ethical skills including ethical reasoning. Here are some recommendations on how they can do it.

#1 Create an ethical environment

The best way to teach moral values is to set a good example. Professors should evaluate the students’ knowledge and skills honestly.

  • The test questions must reflect materials that have been studied during the course. It is not honest to include too complicated tasks that go beyond the curriculum.
  • The system of knowledge assessment must be clear and transparent. Obviously, a professor has to be unbiased while putting marks for essays, case studies, coursework, and other academic papers.

#2 Discuss ethical issues with students

Professors should explain ethical rules and their impact on moral development, academic success, and advancing their career.

✓ Use examples

For instance, one can remind students of the unacceptability of plagiarism. Firstly, it is not honest to steal content and say that it is yours. Any text is the result of intellectual effort, and it has its value. The authors and writers have property rights on it and deserve to restrict access to it when others want to pass it off as their own work. When you copy someone’s materials, you break copyright law. Secondly, professors evaluate student’s individual effort, but not his/her possibility to find and copy someone’s ideas. Thus, the plagiarism issue is a matter of academic dishonesty.

✓ Prove the importance of ethics

Professors should emphasize that ethical behavior, above all, contributes to a good reputation. The image of a decent person is highly appreciated in the modern world. However, one can spend years to earn it but it doesn’t take long to lose it. One mistake and all you fought to develop is gone in an instant. That is why ethics is a point of self-development and moral awareness. One needs to follow ethical standards to boost individual progress but not to avoid punishment or lower grades.

✓ Teach students to make ethical decisions

Apart from college assignments, professors can discuss life situations with young people too. For instance, it could be a historical episode, a political event, a fact from the latest news, etc. Measured discussions in a classroom setting are quite helpful as they give a real picture of the situation.

People always need to make decisions, and sometimes the choice is extremely challenging. However, students must realize that it all starts with ethics. It is the basis for constructive solutions and long-term relations.

#3 Prevent, detect, and react to unethical cases in the classroom

Reflections on ethics are not enough to encourage students’ ethical behavior. One needs practical actions too. So, professors have to organize the learning process in accordance with moral rules.

  • The distance between desks must be enough to prevent students from cheating when they write a test.
  • The tests should be conducted in the presence of the professor.
  • Electronic devices (phones, tablets, smartwatches, etc.) must be forbidden during the test.
  • It is convenient to use modern software to find plagiarism in students’ papers. Opt for a professional online service for this purpose and buy a premium account for quick checks.
  • Professors can give individual tasks. In this case, students have fewer temptations for cheating and plagiarism.
  • It is a good idea to teach students to paraphrase texts. Thus, they learn to formulate their thoughts and come up with unique plagiarism-free essays.
  • Professors should respond to academic dishonesty properly. Depending on the seriousness of the case, it could be a lower grade, one more assignment, an additional task, etc.

Bruce Weinstein: Five ethical principles for colleges

A specialist in ethics Bruce Weinstein claims that there are five main moral rules that exist beyond religion and nationalities. College professors should follow them too.

  1. Do no harm

The profession of the educator implies bringing knowledge and skills without harm to others’ physical and mental health.

        2. Make it better

Even a couple of kind words can encourage students to do great things. They need to be mentored and taught right from wrong.

        3. Respect others

Treat others with tolerance, promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion.

        4. Be fair

Professors should take well-considered decisions in evaluating the work of students and treat all students equally except for basing grades on academic performance.

        5. Be compassionate

Kindness is an ethical value that relates to treating others well with caring and empathy. Professors need to do the same because students encounter problems during their academic careers and may seek out guidance from their professors, especially in an ethics course.\

Summing up

Expert psychologists say that college life makes a great impact on the student’s mindset. Watching an honest academic system, he/she learns ethical principles and successfully puts them into practice. Professors, on their part, can create a favorable climate of ethical behavior to encourage students to follow moral rules. It deals with a fair learning process and impartial attitude to young people.

Most important, professors should serve as role models for students to emulate during their moral development and learn how to transition to ethical decision-making throughout their lives.

Blog written by Alison McKinley with the help of Dr. Steven Mintz, aka the Ethics Sage on August 4, 2020. You can sign up for Dr. Mintz's newsletter and learn more about his activities at: Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter .