Any individual engaged in any form of work can complain of having gone through the problem of ethical dilemma. Also referred to as the ethical paradox, the ethical dilemma involves a situation in which an individual encounters problem in taking an effective decision. Usually, in such circumstances, the individual is encountered with two possible moral imperatives, out of which neither appears to be more acceptable or preferable as an option (Rom et al. 2017). The instances of ethical dilemmas are also common in universities, and Mr. Walker, a Guest Lecturer working at Western Sydney University had also complained of facing ethical dilemma within the college premise. Hence, it is important to analyze the cause of his ethical dilemma and offer probable recommendations that can help in resolving problems in similar situations.
Situation Involving Ethical Dilemma:
It is important to consider the case of Walker and analyze the source of ethical dilemma. Walker has always been known as a loving and caring guest lecturer, imparting education with much passion. Walker believes that his duty of teaching the students is not confined to the class rooms only, but he must care for them and cater to their academic needs even outside the classrooms. Accordingly, Professor Walker teaches the students within the class room, providing them with lecture notes, helping them analyze each chapter with a sharp focus on elaborate details. Yet, he observes that the analytical skills or reflective skills of some of the students are not admirably good. Hence, Walker feels that it is his obligation to teach and assist the students outside the classroom as well (Salvador 2017). Walker thought that this would contribute to the creation of a supportive, positive learning environment that could boost the student’s academic progress. However, as he started teaching some of the students outside his classroom, he found out that these students became over-friendly with him and did not even hesitate asking about additional academic support on a regular basis. This gave rise to a sense of ethical dilemma as the weaker students started asking for more hours of lectures and additional lecture notes outside the classrooms. While often some students would have clarity of concepts, they would still ask for additional notes and reference materials outside the classrooms. As a teacher, it is the duty of Walker to help the students out, and create a caring climate for them, by offering maximum help (Nucci et al. 2014). On the other hand, as a professor, it is his professional obligation to create a formal relation with his students, maintain his authority and ensure equitable distribution of educational resources amongst his students.
Ethical Alternatives Available:
Faced with the moral dilemma, Walker has two moral imperatives to choose from. First of all, he can offer additional lecture notes to the students, that he would not otherwise provide the students in the classrooms. As a teacher, it is his responsibility to help each one, and if a selected group of students are academically lagging behind, he should come forward and offer them assistance. Since these students are unable to derive sufficient benefit from the class notes, it is Walker’s duty to provide them additional resources necessary to develop their academic skills. In a way, this is the right alternative, as he is not depriving anyone, but providing additional assistance to the weaker ones. Dedication to one’s own duty is an integral moral concept and as a lecturer, it is his duty to ensure the academic success of all the students. However, the second alternative that Walker can choose is, to offer help to the weaker students as and when they require, without offering them lecture notes that he is not providing in class. As a lecturer, fairness and transparency are two integral principles that have to be taken care of. In case, he chooses the first alternative his action would be unfair as he would provide additional class notes to the weaker students and as a lecturer of the University, it is his responsibility to ensure equitable distribution of educational resources (Beck et al. 2016). Though he can offer academic guidance to the students outside the classrooms, he should not offer them any extra class note that he does not provide in his class rooms.
Evaluation of the Chosen Action:
The action that has been finally chosen by Walker is to help the weaker students with additional reference materials and lecture notes. While evaluating the moral imperative, it is important to understand how the decision affected people, if any. As far as this decision of Walker was concerned, it definitely helped in boosting the confidence of the students who might have scored higher because of the additional reference materials. As a lecturer, it is his duty to extend his help as and when his students require him (Nather 2013). However, Walker was unaware of the ethical ramification of his action. He should not have provided any lecture notes to the students outside the class. There could be students who were comparatively weaker inside the class and they might have been too shy to come up or ask for academic assistance outside the classrooms. This could create a situation in which some students got access to educational resources while others did not (Liu and Ditto 2013). Walker should have shared the lecture notes with the students in the classrooms, and if needed, could have explained the notes outside the class. This would at least have ensured equitable distribution of educational resources. However, in case of Walker, most of the students (deemed to be strong or moderately strong in studies) were deprived of the additional lecture notes that might have affected their grades in a way.
To conclude, it can be stated that Walker did encounter a serious ethical dilemma that gave rise to a dramatic conflict. However, he failed to act in the best interest of all the parties concerned. While extending assistance to a handful of students, he ended up taking up an action that could be considered to be “unfair”. Walker should have shared the lecture notes with the students in the classrooms, and if needed, could have explained the notes outside the class and hence his chosen action cannot be deemed to be morally correct an alternative.
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Salvador, R.O., 2017. Reexamining the “Discussion” in the Moral Dilemma Discussion. Journal of Business Ethics, pp.1-16.
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