Ethics in an Academic Environment
Eric Kiszely, Christina Boland, Elaine Ready, Jacob Fontenot, and Jaime Luna
University of Phoenix (online)
The subject matter of this paper is Ethics in an Academic Environment. It is quite appropriate that this is approached in the first mandatory class within the University of Phoenix regardless of the focus of the degree, because it will set the guidelines and appropriate behavior, actions, and technique involved in any paper written beyond this class as well as the way one participates in the setting of the Academic Environment. Ethics can be approached in a variety of ways with numerous interpretations. Within the words and writings in this paper, those subject matters will be approached, discussed, analyzed and proven positive in its poignancy and application toward the intended objective of being ethical in the course of obtaining Educational degrees from the University of Phoenix. As a Team, five topics of interest were chosen to pertain to the idea of ethics in an academic environment. Those concepts that were discussed and finally chosen to apply toward the subject matter of this paper were: original content, participation equality, following set guidelines, freedom of exploration of new ideas, and finally the development of relationships with peers.
In order to begin getting absorbed into the topic of ethics in an academic environment, the most basic element of this subject must be clearly defined in a way that is approachable and clearly understood as in the definition given to us by the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, “The discipline dealing with what is good and bad or right and wrong or with more duty and obligation.” Now, that alone is the definition of ethics. As a conscious human species happening to be the singular (or supposed singular) sentient beings on our planet Earth, we are given an innate natural ability of a sense of ethics which manifests itself in a “gut-feeling” for most. Whatever may be being discussed or analyzed some sort of sensation of right or wrong is produced through thought or a physical reaction. Usually, those definitions of ethics or feelings are built upon the belief system of the individual which was set in place and intact at a young formative age by the opinions of others, thoughts, and feelings of the world at large and their definition of correct or incorrect (filters). With this being expressed, it allows us to examine that the perception of each individual of ethics can, and is, different. Now, finally imagine applying ethics to the academic environment and even more specifically in an online medium. How does one define or apply the idea of ethics in an academic environment? As the discussion continues, the aforementioned perceptions of ethics in accordance to the academic environment will be explored and integrated into a cohesive thought.
One of the first selected notions that were chosen is the theory of original content. In order for one to apply their knowledge and basic foundational learning to create an identity for oneself and participate in an honorable and just fashion, participating in any academic endeavor or assignment must include original content. Being an automaton simply repeating the words previously expressed by a peer, co-worker or classmate does not authenticate independent thought, analytical and critical thinking. Another way of viewing this is the opposition of plagiarism. What exactly is plagiarism? Plagiarism, introduced by Indiana University in their documentations within the Student Code of Conduct, expresses plagiarism as follows:
Plagiarism is defined as presenting someone else's work, including the work of other students, as one's own. Any ideas or materials taken from another source for either written or oral use must be fully acknowledged, unless the information is commonknowledge. What is considered "common knowledge" may differ from course to course.
Plagiarism is probably the most likely theory or thought that comes to mind when the notion of Ethics in an academic environment is brought up. Plagiarizing may get the assignment completed, but in the long run it diminishes the capacity of the student to function in an academic environment and to contribute original content by means of thoughts, feelings and actions.
Following along a similar thought pattern is the subject matter of participation, specifically geared toward a group setting within the Academic arena. It is all too easy to get lost in the crowd or to not voice an opinion in a group. When participating in a group, participating equally is fundamental in keeping a team on-point and focused on the objectives at hand, as well as keeping every participant feeling on level ground with the other members. If the majority of the work is completed by a single individual, that creates an environment that can breed jealousy and resentment. In order to facilitate this process of equal participation in a group setting in an academic environment is to assign roles and responsibilities (discussed and agreed upon by the members involved in the group) and the ability to follow-through with those roles and tasks. As stated by the International Journal of Educational Management, a different perspective is approached, yet remains applicable, “particularly when the agenda is one of social inclusion, and when certain groups within society are still significantly under-represented and disadvantaged at the level of participation.” The point being made is that of being included socially within the group, participating equally amongst the individuals to form a team and continue the freedom of communication between everyone as equals within the environment of academics pertaining to remaining ethical.
An important aspect that applies to the thoughts, focus, and intentions of remaining with the theme of Ethics in an Academic Environment is that of the obligation to follow the set guidelines assigned by the facilitator; this is expressed in this project in one aspect by following the American Psychological Association (APA) formatting. Unlike what some may perceive to be “traditional” higher educational systems that utilize different formatting styles like the Modern Language Association (MLA), adapting oneself to the specifc details associated with the APA formatting style can be a unique task to say the least. APA formatting is very precise in its application as seen in the Behavior Research Methods, “The processing of citations from articles represents a unique challenge, however, because deviations from strict APA formatting cause problems that are sometimes difficult to correct mechanically.” Though it may be challening to adjust to this style of formatting, it is part of the learning process and the ability to expand the mind, create new neural pathways and expand the definition of the perception of reality.
The completion of the previous thought and notion leads to one of the final subjects that will be looked at within the context of this paper which would be freedom. When the topic of Ethics in an Academic Environment is brought up, an initial reaction is to take a negative perspective of this concept, yet as the duality that is reality has shown there is also a positive, good, or right aspect to ethics. Having the ability to experience intellectual freedom and experimentation in an academic environment is also an aspect that is less explored in association with ethics. Coming from this viewpoint and perspective allows one to delve into new ideas and concepts without any pre-set limitations that may inhibit the learning process. It gives the student the ability to expand their current mental boundaries and begin to see the world through a different filter and experience life in a larger context from a metaphorical higher point on a mountain top taking in the view of the valley below in greater details than those who may not yet be as far up the mountain. Some facilitators or professors may restrict students from certain areas of education that may be perceived as taboo, but if one is not allowed the freedom to explore anything and everything within the academic environment, how is that ethical and not simply a form of intellectual slavery? It does not allow for creation of individual thought, but simple cloned processes of thinking.
As the conclusion of this exploration into Ethics in an Academic Environment comes to “the beginning of the end”, the final intellectual association of ethics pertains to the thought of the developing and formation of functional relationships with peers in the classroom or academic environment, especially when focused on team assignments. Not only is it important to interact and communicate with the other people that are in a class and Academic environment (including the facilitator), it is quite pivotal to the success of the individual, because these relationships can be the basis of a strong foundation of assets. The relationships one forms in this setting is paramount to an individuals success, as stated by Jennifer Williams in the Educational and Psychological Measurement, “I see as an indicator for success is building relationships with teachers, peers, and other staff members.” Some of the resources within the academic environment may be quite obvious to some, but to others the idea of purposefully cultivated relationships may not be as easily observed as an asset and having relation to ethics.
All of the topics, thoughts, ideas, concepts and contextualized notions that have been discussed ranging from original content, participation equality, following set guidelines by a facilitator (APA formatting), freedom of learning and exploring new ideas for mental expansion, as well as the development of relationships as assets all have a common underlying theme; ethics. These ideas are very specific to Ethics in an Academic Environment and when utilized properly enables the potential for growth, self-realization and appropriate thoughts and behaviors within the Academic Environment. Ethics in an Academic Environment gives structure and builds the foundation on which the learning and educational process is enabled to proceed organically with the rewards being a more highly evolved, conscious human (sentient) being with a degree from the University of Phoenix! References
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