How Have Ethical Responsibilities Changed in the Classroom Term Paper

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Ethical Changes in the Classroom Over the Past 50 Years

The ethical responsibilities of teachers have undergone dramatic changes over the past fifty years, reflecting the changes in our culture today. As contemporary society becomes increasingly diverse and complex, so does the process of preparing young people for life as independent thinkers, productive citizens, and future leaders. The changing nature of students, the collegiate experience, learning, teaching, and outcome assessment all have substantive implications for altering educational practice. Trends such as appearance, actions and language have set the pace that there are no absolutes, no common values, and no core set of moral ideas. Ethical relativism has become the norm due to our current society's vast historical events that have led to distinct changes in the responsibilities of teachers and ethics over the past fifty years.

The classrooms of today are filled with students of diverse age, socioeconomic status, gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, and learning and physical ability. Their diversity is definitely greater today than at any other time in the history of American higher education. What was at one time the traditional college student, a white male of 18 to 20 years old, attending a four-year, liberal arts college full-time, and living on campus, is now a minority student in higher education. In addition to those students, the current college population also includes significant proportions of older students returning to school due to changes in the economy, women's roles, and work environments. Over half of the undergraduate population is over 21 years of age, and 41% are over 24 years of age.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Another difference is the socioeconomic status of current students. This ranges from those whose families are able to finance their education fully, to adults whose incomes must also cover family expenses, to low-income students who require financial assistance. Students from lower economic and societal classes during their youth have led many of today's college students to value vocational training over learning for learning's sake. As compared to the past, women currently make up the majority of most institutions' undergraduate student bodies. The current changes in women's educational and political interests have expanded in some traditionally male-dominated fields and have decreased other traditionally female dominated fields as well. This increased presence of women and different needs have altered campus services and raised the issue of bias toward particular groups of students.

Additionally, members of historically under-represented racial and ethnic groups, such as African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, and Native American now constitute approximately a fourth of the current number of undergraduates. This dramatic diversity in the student body requires the expansion of perspectives taught in higher education. It also requires educational communities to be open to different implications regarding levels of preparation, learning styles, and available time for study. Educational communities now need to take into consideration family and occupational responsibilities.

Awareness of and understanding the differences in sexual orientation are also crucial to the growing population of gay, lesbian, and bisexual students whose marginalization can affect their educational experience.

Physical, learning, and health-related disabled students are also attending college in increasing numbers and usually require accommodations to maximize their educational opportunities. Students are increasingly coming from single-parent homes, have experienced mental or physical abuse, have experienced substance abuse, and seek counseling for these personal and family mental health issues while attending college. The complexity of this student body produces multiple educational goals, learning approaches, and situational factors that can present teachers with many new ethical challenges unknown in prior years.

The increasing complexity of students' backgrounds and educational goals is reflected in the varying approaches students take to higher education. The amount of students enrolling in graduate and professional degree programs is rapidly growing, as well as the number of those enrolling in certificate programs. Diverse educational goals, as well as varying life and economic circumstances, produce different patterns in student attendance. Enrollment in part-time programs is increasing, and part-time students currently make up approximately 40% of the undergraduate enrollment. Sporadic enrollment is expected to grow as family, work, and economic resources constrain students' abilities to attend college on a continuous and regular basis. Transfers among institutions are also more widespread and commonplace than they were before.

Although higher education tends to be a part of students lives, in many cases college attendance is not the core activity in their lives. For these students, college must compete with employment and family obligations. Distance learning and increasingly sophisticated technology, such as online courses, have changed the possibilities for engaging in higher education and the nature of the educational experience. The traditional four or five-year full-time program at a residential college is no longer the most frequent course of obtaining a college education.

Both the evolving nature of society and the increasingly diverse student body have led to re-conceptualizations of learning outcomes and processes. Higher education must now prepare students to shoulder their moral and ethical responsibility to confront and wrestle with the complex problems they will encounter in the real world. Critical thinking skills, the ability to gather and evaluate evidence, and the ability to communicate orally and in writing are essential learning outcomes if students are to get beyond relativity to make informed judgments. Adult students' abilities to manage their own work, take care of their own families, and contribute to their communities have become increasingly prevalent.

Recent research also indicates that the sources of influence on students' learning are as varied and interconnected as are the ways in which students learn. Current research indicates that students' out-of-class experiences promote critical thinking skills independent of their classroom experiences. This view of learning necessitates the consideration of multiple educational outcomes that include complex cognitive skills, an ability to apply knowledge to practical problems, an appreciation of human differences, and practical competence skills. Teachers must recognize that students are active participants in the learning process and that students approach this process from multiple frameworks. Teachers of today must also realize that students' academic and cognitive development are shaped by their out-of-class experiences as well as their formal academic experiences.

Education reform efforts increasingly emphasize that the traditional transmission of knowledge from teacher to student is no longer sufficient. Teaching students to actively develop knowledge, to evaluate information and evidence, and to become adept at making informed decisions requires modeling these processes and engaging students in practicing them. Trends in undergraduate education in America reveal that there is a movement in perceptions of the faculty member's role in the classroom away from that of the provider of instruction to that of the facilitator of student learning. In this way, students are able to discover and learn for themselves, become members of learning communities as they make discoveries and solve problems.

Collaboration, active engagement, and inclusion characterize some current instructional approaches. Nowadays teachers and students collaborate, as do students and their peers. The old traditional boundaries between the roles, responsibilities, and activities of teachers and learners are eliminated. This collaboration takes place in learning communities in which learners respect one another and work toward common goals for everyone's success. Active engagement involves bringing one's experience to learning, being willing to expand one's understanding, integrating new perspectives into one's thinking, and applying that changed thinking to one's own life. These forms of teaching are inclusive because they invite all students' experiences and thoughts into the learning interaction. This teaching trend revolves around the way educators view knowledge, authority, and learning capability.

The rapid evolution of information technology also plays a part in reshaping the nature of the instructional process. The availability of a vast array of information technologies have significantly increased students' power and opportunities to learn under conditions with limited supervision of an instructor.

However, the educational consequences of technology-enhanced classrooms are as still to be known.

The Vietnam War also spurred many of the changes in the ethical responsibilities of teachers in the past fifty years. From 1968 to 1998 the list of Army values underwent four major revisions, expanding from three to seven in number, and the definition of leadership went from an art to a process, to an essential element of combat power, then back to a process. Classroom instruction in ethics increased from a handful of courses offered intermittently on various posts in the late 1960s to complete core and advanced courses in ethics at West Point, the U.S. Army War College, and the Command and General Staff College. Instruction in medical ethics for Army heath care providers increased to include courses at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and most other Army medical centers and general hospitals.

For around two centuries the American Army paid little attention to the philosophical discipline of ethics. There were courses at West Point in the 19th century in ethics and moral philosophy, however these gave way to more practical courses in leadership and military law by the end of the century. Commanders used the military law, Army regulations, and the advice of staff officers, including the chaplain, to deal with moral… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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