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Business students' ethical evaluations of faculty misconduct

Sean Valentine (University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, USA)
Roland E. Kidwell (University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, USA)

Quality Assurance in Education

ISSN: 0968-4883

Article publication date: 11 July 2008




This study aims to gauge business school student perceptions of the academic conduct of college professors, to determine students' ethical evaluations of certain potential faculty behaviors. The relationships between perceived faculty misconduct and several student demographic characteristics including sex and academic classification were also investigated.


A large sample of undergraduate students attending one of two diverse universities responded to an anonymous survey. Responses were analyzed using univariate and multivariate statistical methods.


Behaviors such as giving lower grades because of opposing opinions in the classroom and sharing an undergraduate student's private information with colleagues were rated the most harshly by student respondents. The 55 items that we used to measure professors' academic misconduct distilled into two basic dimensions: “inappropriate sexual situations” involving students and coworkers and “inappropriate familiarity with students.” Student sex and academic classification were related to one or both of these dimensions.

Research limitations/implications

The study did not address whether faculty misconduct might be seen as incompetent by the students rather than unethical. The survey also did not ascertain if or how often the student respondents had observed the behaviors that they judged as unethical or ethical.

Practical implications

Faculty who wish to be more effective teachers and role models should realize their behaviors are being scrutinized and evaluated by students who make ethical judgments about teacher conduct.


The study makes an important contribution by distilling 55 established items on ethical behaviors into two durable ethics scales regarding faculty‐student relationships: “inappropriate sexual situations” and “inappropriate familiarity with students.” These scales can be applied in future research.



Valentine, S. and Kidwell, R.E. (2008), "Business students' ethical evaluations of faculty misconduct", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 287-300.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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