teaching and supervising a graduate student

Ethical Dilemma #2 – Teaching Tara

Dr. Rudy, a psychology professor, has been teaching and supervising a graduate student, Tara, for about one year, since she began the Psychology doctoral program where he works. Tara is a bright and enthusiastic student, though at times she confides to Dr. Rudy that she has a lot of “personal issues” that sometimes get in the way of her graduate work, but she declines to give more detail than that.

In the classroom, Tara is usually an active and dedicated student, and completes her work on time (or ahead of schedule). Dr. Rudy appreciates the work she does in class, and in addition to giving her high grades consistent with her work, he regularly praises her in class.

As time goes on, as part of Tara’s work on her thesis, she often spends hours each week meeting with Dr. Rudy in his office at the University, discussing the project and her work progress on it. From time to time, Tara and Dr. Rudy will have a meal together, either in his office or at a nearby diner, so they can continue their work. Dr. Rudy usually pays for the meals, as he knows that as a graduate student Tara probably does not have much money.

One December afternoon, after completing their thesis meeting for the day, Tara asks for a ride home rather than having to wait for a bus or ordering a ride service. Noting that it is already getting dark, and that it is beginning to snow outside, Dr. Rudy agrees and drives Tara the 10-minute trip to her apartment. Tara thanks him for the ride and they do not mention it again.

As the new school term begins in January, Dr. Rudy notes that Tara’s work has declined somewhat. She still completes her assignments, but often will turn them in late. The quality of work is still generally good, but not to her same level as before. Knowing that Tara has “personal issues,” Dr. Rudy continues to give her high grades, hoping that eventually things will get back to normal.

Dr. Rudy privately expresses some concern about Tara to Dr. Cline, another faculty member in the program, who teaches Tara in another class. Dr. Cline says that Tara seems to be completing her work in this other class just fine (and on time), and has not mentioned any personal issues or concerns to her. Dr. Cline gently suggests that Dr. Rudy might be giving her “too much leeway” and that he should consider spending less time with Tara to “get a clearer perspective.” Dr. Rudy is shocked by this suggestion, but agrees to consider it. When he returns to his office, Dr. Rudy sees an email from Tara in which she asks for a meeting “over lunch” the next day and states that she has some things she needs to tell him about. Dr. Rudy is unsure how to respond, and decides to put off responding to the email until the next day.

 

In your essay, you will evaluate Dr. Rudy’s actions, and argue for or against his decisions. Make sure to follow the assignment instructions, and include all necessary sections of the essay!

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