Document Type


Publication Date



Case Vignette: Graduate Student Teaching Assignments. Sally Student, a doctoral candidate in experimental psychology, has spent much of the summer preparing to teach an undergraduate course in experimental psychology, scheduled for the upcoming fall semester. Approximately 1 week before the semester begins, she receives a call from the department chair, who asks whether Sally could teach another course instead. The chair explains that a new faculty member has elected to teach Experimental Psychology but that she may teach the other course that is available, Clinical Psychology, an area in which Sally has little experience or training. Sally explains to the chair that she has spent some time preparing for the experimental course and that the clinical course would require additional preparation, as it is not within her field of study. The chair responds that flexibility is a part of academic life and reminds Sally that she must teach at least one course per semester to retain her funding within the graduate department.

Discussion Questions. What course of action should Sally take? What are her responsibilities in accepting a teaching assignment? How might graduate students' multiple responsibilities conflict? What are the department chair's considerations in assigning a course? How might the department chair's duties to Sally, the new faculty member, and Sally's students conflict? What are the new faculty member’s rights regarding course selection? Can this dilemma be resolved equitably for all?


This is an Author's Original Manuscript of an article whose final and definitive form, the Version of Record, has been published in the Ethics & Behavior, 2002 copyright Taylor & Francis, available online at: DOI:10.1207/S15327019EB1202_7