Graduate Ethics Education: A Content Analysis of Syllabi

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Grifith, Shannon M ; Domenech Rodriguez, Melanie M. ; Anderson, Austin J (2014)
  • Publisher: Hosted by Utah State University Libraries
  • Subject: syllabus | ethics education | objectives | professional psychology | Educational Psychology

Ethical practice of psychology is emphasized by APA accreditation requirements. The current study is a content analysis of 53 ethics courses syllabi from all APA accredited programs listed in the American Psychologist 2011 annual report. This article is a companion to Domenech Rodríguez et al. (2013) and contributes knowledge on the current state of graduate ethics education. Of the parent project respondents (N = 364), 14% returned syllabi for the present study. General information (e.g., objectives, honor code, academic honesty, common policy, and classroom expectations), assignments, APA format, and teaching sources were coded. Coding of objectives were developed from McKeachie and Svinkicki (2011) definition and de las Fuentes (2005) conceptualization of specific objectives (awareness, skill, and knowledge). A little over half (56.6%) of syllabi stated clear objectives, only 52.8% covered academic honesty, and 16 (30.2%) did not include a section to address accommodations for students with disabilities. Most syllabi used APA format to cite sources, however, most sources used were 5 years or older. Overall, syllabi were quite varied in the information they included. Greater consistency in syllabus content would make future evaluations on the state of graduate ethics education more accurate. Recommendations for observational and self-report alternatives are also presented.
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