Conflicts Arising from Multiple Responsibilities, Constituents, Relationships, and Loyalties
Educational developers may encounter conflicts that arise from multiple responsibilities, constituents, relationships, and loyalties. Because educational developers are responsible to their institutions, faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, and to themselves, it is inevitable that conflict will arise. For example, multiple responsibilities and relationships to various constituencies, together with competing loyalties, may lead to conflicting ethical responsibilities. The following examples point out situations in which conflicts may arise and identify the specific conflict.
Example 1: An instructor is teaching extremely poorly and students in the class are suffering seriously as a result.
Conflict: In this situation the educational developer is faced with a conflict between the responsibility of confidentiality to the client-teacher and responsibility to the students and the institution.
Example 2: A faculty member wants to know how a teaching assistant with whom the educational developer is working is progressing in his/her consultation or in the classroom.
Conflict: In this situation the educational developer is faced with a conflict between responding to the faculty member's legitimate concern and with maintaining confidentiality vis-à-vis the teaching assistant.
Example 3: The educational developer knows first hand that a professor-client is making racist or sexist remarks or is sexually harassing a student.
Conflict: In this situation the educational developer is faced with a conflict between confidentiality vis-à-vis the professor-client and not only institutional/personal ethical responsibilities but responsibility to the students as well.
Example 4: A fine teacher who has worked with the educational developer for two years is coming up for tenure and asks that a letter be written to the tenure committee.
Conflict: In this situation the educational developer is faced with a conflict between rules regarding client confidentiality and the educational developer's commitment to advocate for good teaching on campus and in tenure decisions.
In such instances of conflict educational developers need to practice sensitive and sensible confidentiality. It is best that they:
consult in confidence with other professionals when they are faced with conflicting or confusing ethical choices.
inform the other person or persons when they have to break confidentiality, unless doing so would jeopardize their personal safety or the safety of someone else.
break confidentiality according to legal precedent in cases of potential suicide, murder, or gross misconduct. In such cases, to do nothing is to do something.
decide cases of questionable practice individually, after first informing themselves to the best of their ability of all the ramifications of their actions.
work to determine when they will act or not act, while being mindful of the rules and regulations of the institution and the relevant legal requirements.