is this unethical?

  1. I am a nursing instructor who also teaches some psych courses at a small college. Yesterday, my son, who is in another psych class, taught by Professor X, told me that Professor X told his class that stduents who are in my class (Drugs and Human Behavior) should try the following experiment: Use attending behaviors to modify my actions-specifically, try to make me stand in a certain part of the room to lecture, (by paying attention, etc. when I stand there). The purpose was to demonstrate the effectiveness of Skinnerian Behaviorist principles. Professor X told my son, "Don't tell your mother".

    My son was upset and did tell me. (I hope this is just a big misunderstanding!) Although I may not understand quite what Professor X was getting at, I feel like this may be unethical behavior. If he wants his students to perform an experinent, then he should obtain informed consent. Why is my class chosen? Is it because I am a nurse, a "good sport", or what? I enjoy teaching Drugs and Human Behavior, but the material can be very sensitive for students, and I'd rather not be dealing with game playing!

    I'm reluctant to confront the professor, because it may be clear that my son has "spilled the beans".

    The class meets in half an hour. It's possible that the students will be too busy taking notes to do anything about Professor X's suggestion! I hope i'm overreacting. Does anyone have any thoughts on handling this? If the students do act differently in class, I think I can handle it. But I'm not sure how to deal with Professor X.
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    About bookwormom

    Joined: Apr '04; Posts: 361; Likes: 192


  3. by   VickyRN
    At the very least, it's poor judgment on the part of the other professor and shows disrespect towards you.

    However, since your son is in this class and dependent on this teacher for his grade, I wouldn't make an issue of it. I would wait until the end of the semester (and after your son has received his final grade) to discuss this situation with the other instructor in private. I would do so in the least confrontational way possible, while getting the point across that this was inappropriate and should never be repeated.

    Best wishes to you.
  4. by   caliotter3
    I would also advise to take the course of action that VickyRN suggested. I am particularly concerned that he placed your son in this unfortunate position. Both of you might consider a formal complaint. No student should be compromised like this.
  5. by   talaxandra
    Given that he knew your son was in his class, I'd be a little suspicious about what experiment he was actually engineering - it all seems unnecessarily manipulative to me
  6. by   iteachob
    2 thoughts:

    1. You have a good (and ethical) son
    2. The Professor X's mother does not.
  7. by   CathyLew
    Quote from talaxandra
    Given that he knew your son was in his class, I'd be a little suspicious about what experiment he was actually engineering - it all seems unnecessarily manipulative to me
    yea, that is the first thing that struck me.... maybe the fake experiment to test the real one. Would your son tell.

    or maybe this instructor does this experiment every year. maybe picks a different teacher each year.

    or he could have thought it was innocent. I have heard instructors say *try this the next time you____blank* or try this with your parents next time.... or whatever. part of teaching something is to get the students to try it and believe in what you are teaching.
  8. by   bookwormom
    An update...
    The class went fine. Because of the nature of the room, I don't change my position much, but when I did, I didn't notice any change in behavior. The students seemed pretty focused. I appreciate all the comments. It will be interesting to see if any other students bring this up.
  9. by   Whispera
    It would be interesting to see if how YOU move can alter how the students act too!
  10. by   FireStarterRN
    The professor sounds immature. It reminds me of Seinfeld, he could make a whole episode off of something like this.
  11. by   classicdame
    if you DO notice behavior in your classroom like you described, then announce "BTW, if you are trying to manipulate me by----- or some other little trick you might have picked up in another class, I believe we are both wasting our time".
  12. by   Whispera
    ...or ask them, "how's it working for you?"