ETHICS AND THE ADULT AND CONTINUING EDUCATOR
AED 5230 Elmira College
Winter, 2001, On-Line Course
Roger Hiemstra, Facilitator
Educators of adults, like any other professional group, face ethical dilemmas in almost every aspect of practice. While adult and continuing educators rarely find themselves in the "life and death" kinds of situations that some professionals face, we do often find ourselves in situations where our actions can influence the decisions others make about their careers or personal lives. This is why ethics is central to adult and continuing education.
The purpose of this course is to give participants an opportunity to critically examine ethical practice relative to the education of adults. Participants will have an opportunity to explore current perspectives on ethical practice and issues in the field of adult and continuing education and to examine their own values and practices relative to ethics.
In keeping with the nature of this course's content, it is my philosophy that active involvement by an adult student involves the assuming of personal responsibility for learning. Such involvement should include adequate preparation through related course readings, critical thinking about the various issues raised, participation in class discussion where appropriate, and preparation of various materials required for the learning activities.
The nature of an on-line course also dictates that the facilitator do considerable preplanning and organizing. Thus, I have prepared much of the content that will be presented as initial on-line resources. However, considerable individual latitude is possible through a personal learning contract. Given the course purposes and this assumption of personal responsibility, students have considerable flexibility and self-directed learning opportunities. In addition, it will be the facilitator's responsibility to develop needed on-line resources in response to discussion topics and avenues.
Areas of Learning
The following are some of the major topics to be considered in this course. Additional topics can be negotiated depending on the needs and interests of the group.
By the end of the course, given active participation, each learner should be able to perform with excellence in the following ways:
1. Distinguish among several major purposes and philosophies of adult education;
2. Describe a personal philosophy of adult and continuing education;
3. Develop a personal code of ethics related to adult and continuing education;
4. Describe a process for ethical decision-making in adult and continuing education;
5. Apply the process to a critical incident from ones own practice;
6. Demonstrate familiarity with several literature sources on ethics in adult education;
7. Identify several ethical issues that can arise in adult and continuing education practice;
8. State and support a position on whether adult and continuing education should have a code of ethics.
9. Contribute to the discussion (on-line synchronous and/or asynchronous) of implications for adult educators and trainers related to ethics in adult and continuing education, including leading/facilitating one CMC discussion period. If appropriate, some students may determine a need to study or discuss issues face-to-face and the facilitator will assist in these activities whenever possible.
The Teaching-Learning Process
My teaching philosophy is based on the assumption that the most successful adult learning takes place in an environment where individuals are free to assume a high degree of self-directedness. At the same time, I recognize that individuals will be at different levels of self-direction. Therefore, I have designed the course and requirements in a way that will provide a degree of structure while encouraging a high level of flexibility for those learners who prefer greater freedom in negotiating learning activities. Similarly, we will use a wide range of teaching techniques designed to provide variety and to keep the course lively and interesting.
I recognize that ethics can be a sensitive topic, particularly when it involves sharing certain personal experiences. At the same time, in order for us to gain as much as possible from the course, we need to be willing to share openly in an environment of trust and caring. Thus, it is my hope that we can work together in an informal, open atmosphere where respect for different viewpoints is valued.
I believe that ethics is one of the most important (and most neglected) areas of adult education practice. Thus, Im pleased to have this opportunity to meet with you to examine ethical practice in our field. I look forward to working with you during this course.
Evaluation and Feedback
Evaluation and feedback are integral parts of any learning activity. Evaluation is a tool for measuring personal progress toward individual or course goals. In addition, a formal institution like Elmira College requires that grades be established as marks for transcripts and degree completion.
Thus, in terms of feedback, it is my expectation that the communication process will indeed be a two-way street. Just as I will be evaluating your work and providing feedback, I hope that you will feel free to provide electronic feedback to me at any time during or after the course. I will use informal formative evaluation techniques throughout the course to assess our progress and, if appropriate, to modify the course direction. Finally, I will ask you to complete an evaluation instruments at the end of the course designed to provide me with feedback about the course and my teaching for future improvement.
In terms of evaluating your written work, I will look for several things: (1) a clear, well-organized writing style; (2) utilization and understanding of a wide range of literature sources, where appropriate, and (3) critical analysis, by which I mean an ability to look at a problem/issue from several perspectives and to be able to articulate a reasoned position based on reflection and analysis, rather than simply on "personal opinion."
Kidder, R (1995). How good people make tough choices. New York: Firseside Books. This course can be ordered on-line through Amazon.com. Specific information will be emailed to registered students.
Several other readings will be provided with a course workbook (to be mailed to registered students) or electronically during the course.
1. Learning Activity #1 - Course Participation
A. Participate in the course activities, including appropriate study, on-line discussion, and evaluation activities occurring during the course. Note: Even though the learning contract process is used in this course, because this is an on-line course and we don't actually meet face-to-face in the classroom, your active involvement electronically is required. Therefore, one-fourth of the course grade will be tied to your participation in the CMC discussion. Material will be provided in the workbook devoted to CMC and on-line resources. In addition, as part of this learning activity facilitate one CMC discussion activity over Webboard (more information on Webboard and CMC discussions is contained in the course workbook).
B. Complete all readings necessary to familiarize yourself with the course topic and to be able to distinguish among several major purposes and philosophies of adult and continuing education, especially those likely to create ethical dilemmas or situations.
C. In addition to examining material on my web page devoted to this course, you will need to access various on-line resources via the Web (initial email conversations will provide appropriate access information).
Objective: To facilitate your growth through contributive group membership, active learning participation, and reading.
2. Learning Activity #2 - Learning Contract Development
Complete a self-diagnosis of needs relevant to the course (a needs diagnosis form is provided in the workbook), design and submit a learning contract for meeting many of those needs, and carry out the planned activities.
Objective: To facilitate your ability to diagnose, articulate, and meet individual learning needs.
3. Learning Activity #3* - Develop a Personal Philosophy Statement
Develop a personal statement of educational philosophy and professional style relative to working with adults as learners. This should involve reviewing the facilitator's material on educational philosophies, reading a chapter I wrote entitled Translating Personal Values and Philosophy into Practical Action (see http://home.twcny.rr.com/hiemstra/philchap.html), and then developing a statement that makes sense given requirements or constraints within your place of work, your own personality, and the ways you have developed for working with adult students or trainees.
Objective: To facilitate your study of different philosophies related to working with people so that a personal statement of educational philosophy can be developed and described to others.
4. Learning Activity #4* - Develop a Statement Representing Your Personal Code of Ethics
Develop a personal statement that represents your personal code of ethics pertaining to working in the field of adult education (if adult education is not your primary field of interest, you can certainly choose another professional field). This should involve reviewing the facilitator's material on ethics, reading other materials related to your particular area of interest, and then developing a statement that makes sense given requirements or constraints within your place of work, your own personality, your particular views of ethics, and the ways you have developed for working with adult students or trainees.
Objective: To facilitate your growth in knowledge regarding codes of ethics and your professional involvement in it.
--Alternative Suggestion for either Learning Activity #3 or #4--
If you have already developed a statement of personal philosophy or ethics for another course, consider developing a personal statement that represents your professional commitment declaration relative to working in the field of adult education (if adult education is not your primary field of interest, you can certainly choose another professional field). This should involve reviewing the facilitator's material on writing a professional commitment statement, reading other materials related to your particular area of interest, and then developing a statement that makes sense given requirements or constraints within your place of work, your own personality, and the ways you have developed for working with adult students or trainees.
5. Learning Activity #5* - Critical Incident
Develop a brief summary (one-page maximum) of a critical incident from your own experience involving an ethical dilemma. Review the material related to the Brockett/Hiemstra process for ethical decision making and the additional material on Aulanet and in your text pertaining to a process for making ethical decisions as background information This activity will be completed early in the course, discussed electronically through our CMC activities, and used as a starting point for completing Learning Activity #6.
Objective: To facilitate your growth in ability to recognize and potentially deal with critical incidents and any concomitant ethical dilemmas.
*Negotiate some alternative learning activity of your own choosing.
6. Learning Activity #6 - Code of Ethics Debate
Participate in an in-class CMC debate on the question, "Should there be a code of ethics for adult and continuing education?" Class members will be divided into two groups and asked to prepare pro and con positions on the issue. These will then be shared electronically with the whole group in a debate-like process. Note that several ethical issues can arise just in addressing the issue of creating a code of ethics.
Objective: To facilitate your understanding of the pros and cons in creating codes of ethics for a profession.
Add the following major activity for the Grade of A:
6. Term Project - Prepare a final course paper, project, or product by choosing one of the following options (the result typically is a 5-25 page paper or product submitted by the end of the time period allotted for course completion).
A. Acquaint yourself with the literature (journal articles, book chapters, ERIC documents, Web resources, and other sources of information on professional ethics, especially as related to adult and continuing education (or your particular field of expertise). Complete an interactive reading or theory analysis experience. The focus could be of a general nature related to supplementing the readings normally done for the course. The end product would be a personal journal or diary, interactive reading log, theory log, or some other means of recording your personal ideas, reactions, and learnings. A minimum of 10 sources should be included in this log. For each reference, please give a complete citation, discuss the main ideas of the reading, and offer your own reflections on or response to the reading.The log should conclude with a 3-5 page reflective discussion of the readings with your own conclusions/recommendations.
B. Develop a case study of an ethical dilemma in adult and continuing education practice. Ideally, this case study should be taken from your own experience as an adult educator or learner. The critical incident (Learning Activity #5) can be expanded and used as the basis for this activity. In developing your paper, you should utilize the Brockett and Hiemstra ethical decision-making process (to be included in the course workbook--or some other process, but please have a discussion with me about the process before you decide to use it) and address all of the questions in the process that are relevant to your situation. In addition, if appropriate, you should discuss how the dilemma was actually resolved and explore the extent to which this decision is similar to and/or different from the one that you recommend based in the process. Also, please use APA, 4th Edition, as your stylistic guide--see http://home.twcny.rr.com/ hiemstra/apa.html for a model of this style).
C. Participate in an on-line (or face-to-face if geographical appropriate and desired) study group activity with 2 or more other people to develop in-depth understanding on some topic, problem, or issue related to ethics and adult and continuing education.
D. Write a paper or journal article on a topic related to the course theme. Possible topics might include, but are not limited to, the following: (1) A discussion of ethical dilemmas in a particular area of practice (e.g., teaching, evaluation, program planning) or a particular setting (e.g., literacy, extension, continuing professional education, community-based programs, training); (2) a position paper on a particular aspect of ethics (e.g., codes of ethics, the use of "ethics training", "whistleblowing"); and (3) a critical analysis, with applications to adult and continuing education practice, of one or two recent books on ethics in the professions or in society in general.
E. Develop and, if possible, implement a program designed to enhance the understanding of ethics and adult and continuing education (or some other professional area) within your place of work (or some other setting of your choice).
F. Negotiate some activity of your own choosing.
Objectives: (a) To facilitate your carrying out in-depth study, acquisition, and comprehension of knowledge related to some aspect of the course's content areas.
(b) To enhance your analytical skills in comparing, contrasting, and critically reflecting on various sources of information pertaining to ethics and adult education
Cervero, R. M. (1988). Effective continuing education for professionals. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Cervero, R. M. (1992). Adult and continuing education should strive for professionalization. In M. W. Galbraith & B. R. Sisco, (Eds.), Confronting controversies in challenging times: A call for action. (New Directions for Continuing Education No. 54, pp. 45-50). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Cunningham, P. M. (1992). Adult and continuing education does not need a code of ethics. In M. W. Galbraith & B. R. Sisco, (Eds.), Confronting controversies in challenging times: A call for action. (New Directions for Continuing Education No. 54, pp. 107-113). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Elias, J. L., & Merriam, S. B. (1995). Philosophical foundations of adult education. (2nd Edition ed.). Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing.
Sork, T. J., & Welock, B. A. (1992). Adult and continuing education needs a code of ethics. In M. W. Galbraith & B. R. Sisco, (Eds.), Confronting controversies in challenging times: A call for action. (New Directions for Continuing Education No. 54, pp. 115-122). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Zinn, L. M. (1990). Identifying your philosophical orientation. In M. W. Galbraith (Ed.), Adult learning methods: A guide for effective instruction . Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing.