Teaching Ethically: Ongoing Improvement, Collaboration, and Academic Freedom


Secondary and Middle Grades Education

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Ethical teachers habitually reflect on their teaching effectiveness and actively seek professional development opportunities that increase their mastery and repertoire of teaching pedagogies and methods of assessing student learning. Ethical teachers also view their teaching in the context of a broader program of study and collaborate with colleagues in ways that promote individual and institutional academic freedom. In this chapter, I identify resources for faculty interested in enhancing their teaching effectiveness and for documenting their professional development in applications for promotion and tenure.I argue that the ethics of effective teaching involves two potentially conflicting perspectives related to academic freedom. Teachers exercise individual academic freedom and responsibility to develop and deliver courses on the basis of their professional expertise, but they also teach courses in the context of a curriculum offered by an academic department (e.g., a baccalaureate degree in psychology) or institution (e.g., a general education program) that has the responsibility to identify program requirements. Effective teachers find ethical ways of collaborating with colleagues to support both individual and institutional academic freedom. I begin by describing the elements of the American Psychological Association’s (APA’s) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (hereinafter referred to as the Ethics Code; APA, 2010) that refer directly to teaching, students, and education. Although the Ethics Code specifically pertains to those who have a doctorate in psychology, it also applies to graduate students, secondary school teachers, and others who teach psychology but do not have a doctoral degree as affiliate members of APA. I discuss how the concepts of individual and institutional academic freedom provide opportunities and potential ethical dilemmas for evaluating effective teaching. I identify criteria for effective teaching that emerged from science experts, discuss how these criteria are consistent with sections of the APA Ethics Code, and suggest a strategy for collaboration in departments and institutions to design and improve their courses and curricula. I conclude by recommending discipline-specific resources that teachers of psychology may consult to improve their teaching, to develop a statement of teaching philosophy, and to document effective teaching in applications for promotion and tenure.

This document is currently not available here.