I graded my strategy students’ first position/reaction paper late last week. As is usually the case on the first one, students do quite poorly, not making the conceptual leap from summarizing the contents of the article to which they had to respond, to making supported judgments about the article’s assertions. It’s a complex learning process, and as such I offer extensive handouts and scaffolding to lower their anxiety level. While the mean score is usually a low ‘C’ on the first paper, one student simply.. how should I say it.. bombed the assignment. “Bob” [not his real name, and he knows I am writing about this] did not follow any of the directions for either content or structure, and appeared to have no grasp of the assignment’s intent.
Blog No. 2012-02 (February 2, 2012)
Key Insight: Research projects are often huge undertakings that lead to more than one publication. How do authors determine whether the papers coming out of one project are sufficiently different from one another to be considered new papers? In this blog, I look at some ex ante methods that authors can use to determine whether a paper is new.
Blog No. 2012-01 (January 1, 2012)
Another Year and Another Hemisphere of Professional Life
Welcome to a new year, new semester and a new posting from The Ethicist. When writing last October, I promised to explore ethical issues in the very broad sphere of professional life, the part of our work neither falling neatly into research nor teaching. It’s the sphere of “everything else” that can be divided into hemispheres related to issues arising from membership in professional organizations like the Academy of Management and issues arising from membership in academic or research institutions. Last October, I wrote about an ethical issue arising from our work in professional organizations. This time, I thought I would travel to the other hemisphere and discuss an ethical issue more commonly (for me) encountered in academic departments, colleges and universities. The topic is service and the issue is knowing when to say no.
I am delighted with the responses to the Ethicist posts—both on the site and to me personally. Thanks for your energy and insights.
An Academy member sent me a very interesting scenario he has been facing that should resonate with many, not only in our field but with those following trends in academe as a whole. I have experienced a version of it myself just this semester. Consider this:
For the past 10 years, you’ve taught a required course you like. You’re effective at teaching this course, too: in the first several years, your course evaluations were very high and other student feedback indicated that they loved your course. However, although you manage the course in essentially the same way as you have since the beginning, and your teaching style has not changed dramatically for the worse, your course evaluations have become not so great. The reason behind this is that your students now evaluate your course’s workload as much too heavy, especially in relation to others who teach the course. When you first were teaching the course and got great evaluations, over 90% of students evaluated your course’s workload as “appropriate.” Over time, you now earn that evaluation metric from only 20% of students.
For students considering taking your course, the word on the street is that you are a very difficult instructor and your course carries an inappropriately rough workload. So, along with decreasing student evaluation numbers, you’re also facing fewer students in your section and resentful colleagues, all in the context of a dramatically increased institutional focus on student retention. You consider your assignment load completely appropriate for the course material.
As you puzzled over your change in evaluation fortunes, you reviewed syllabi from colleagues who also teach this course and found out that, based on similar student feedback, they had been gradually decreasing the workload in their courses. It appears that other sections of this course now require only a group presentation (without a corresponding written assignment) and one multiple choice exam at the end of the course. Indeed, you do have the heaviest workload now out of anyone teaching that course, although there is nothing out of the ordinary in your assignment mix: multiple writing assignments, group written project, and two essay/short answer exams.
What do you do?
Blog No. 2011-03 (November 1, 2011)
Key Insight: Double-blind peer review is one of the academy’s most cherished principles. Its purpose is to ensure that our scholarly journals make decisions to accept or reject manuscripts based solely on the quality, fit and contribution of the paper. Double-blind review, however, has costs as well as benefits, and may be more fiction than fact in today’s world of Google and PowerPoint.
The Ethics Education Committee of the Academy of Management has developed a series of eight videos of journal editors talking about ethical issues involving research and publication. The videos are posted on AOM’s YouTube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/academyofmanagement.
Please share the videos with individuals you think would be interested in viewing them. The videos are particularly useful for PhD students and junior faculty who are starting into the research process, but — even for old-timers like me — it was very instructional to watch the videos. Highly recommended! Kudos to Susan Madsen and Jim Davis for heading up this project, and to all the journal editors who participated.
Eek, my first post! Not much of a post, more of a share…
I came across this article and thought it was particularly interesting. It attempts to analyse why papers being withdrawn are on the increase, suggesting an increase in the awareness of misconduct rather than an increase in the misconduct itself.
Blog No. 2011-01 (October 1, 2011)
What’s My Domain? Everything Else
Welcome again to the ethics blog, this time from your journalist on “professional life” issues. Compared to research or teaching, it may be more difficult to define this sphere of ethical issues.
For me, research evokes a process of reading, analyses, writing, presenting, submitting to editors (and in my case, often re-submitting after editorial rejection) and publishing pieces for a variety of outlets: journals, books, book chapters, working papers, policy reports, case studies and other scholarly purposes. The ethical issues this process raises are myriad, but the process has an intuition that many can grasp pretty easily.
I had the most interesting event happen a couple of days ago and I wanted to share it on this blog with the Academy community. One of my strategy students came to my office the morning after they had all handed in an assignment—a case analysis practicing basic tools such as Five Forces and SWOT. “Scott” [not his real name] told me to remove the back page of his analysis because he had largely filled it in during our class discussion, and as such it should not be evaluated as homework completed. Scott said, “I had to come see you. I fretted [he actually used that word] about it all night.” I had already graded the assignment, and had no idea he had not filled it all out as homework.
I am delighted to engage the Academy community in discussion about the myriad ways ethics may be manifested in our teaching responsibilities. While I have a long list of topics I am eager to put out in this blog column for your input, let me echo Lorraine Eden’s introductory invitation for you, the Academy member, to send me topics you’d like to see in discussion.
What do the following have in common?
- Grading student work fairly and consistently
- Taking into account for final grades some ‘outlier’ student life experience or individual student need, such as a mid-semester baby birth or care of a sick parent or sibling
- Discovering that a student has disclosed private or inappropriate information to others in an online discussion
- Considering extreme consequences of students’ earning failing grades, such as with international students being deported if they fail a course