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Outside the Classroom Walls: Perceptions of Professor Inappropriate Out-of-Class Conduct and Student Classroom Incivility among American Business Students

Abstract

Under higher education’s contemporary consumer model, students are treated as customers and professors are encouraged to increase student engagement through more personal out-of-class interactions, often in social settings. In the course of this more personal student-faculty involvement, students inevitably encounter or learn of their professors’ occasional inappropriate or unethical behavior. In the present study, we investigated the impact of 145 American undergraduate Business students’ perceptions of their professors’ inappropriate out-of-class behavior on student beliefs and in-class behavior. Results indicate that student perceptions of professors engaging in inappropriate out-of-class behavior were associated with students viewing these professors as lower in ethical character and reporting a stronger likelihood of attending these professors’ classes under the influence of alcohol and illicit drugs, swearing and using vulgarity in these professors’ class discussions, and showing disregard for these professors’ rules, time, and effort. These relationships held even when student grade satisfaction and professor in-class behavior were accounted for. Our results suggest professors’ behavior outside the classroom may impact students’ behavior inside the classroom, re-igniting dialogue regarding the professorial role and the boundaries on oversight of that role. We offer suggestions as to how higher education may address these concerns without infringing upon professors’ personal freedoms.

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Notes

  1. Student perceptions of instructor IOCB are likely based on first-hand observations (e.g., witnessing a professor getting drunk at a local bar), gossip from other students (e.g., “I heard Professor X got arrested for DUI last night”) or instructors (e.g., “Take it easy on Professor X, she is going through a tough divorce”), and/or posts on social media (e.g., instructors “following” groups supporting legalization of marijuana). Students indicated a high reliance on first-hand experiences with their instructors and/or their courses (M = 5.82, SD = 1.37 on a 1 to 7 scale) as the source of their perceptions.

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Correspondence to Rebecca M. Chory.

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Chory, R.M., Offstein, E.H. Outside the Classroom Walls: Perceptions of Professor Inappropriate Out-of-Class Conduct and Student Classroom Incivility among American Business Students. J Acad Ethics 15, 197–214 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-017-9290-1

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Keywords

  • Professor ethics
  • Student incivility
  • Student-instructor relationships
  • Professionalism
  • Professorial role