Course Introduction – Law and Ethics in Education (EDUC 404)

As AU`s course offerings continue to grow, Katie`s course introductions offer in-depth descriptions that can help students plan their programs. Interviews with professors bring colourful?and invaluable?details to her articles, and a fresh perspective that goes beyond most syllabi. This article originally appeared March 9, 2007, in issue 1508.

Are you planning to focus your undergraduate degree in educational studies? AU has recently launched EDUC 404 (Law and Ethics in Education), a senior level education course to ?provide an introductory understanding of the legal and ethical issues, and potential legal liability encountered by school principals, teachers and school administrators and counsellors,? according to course consultant Steven Boddington. This course, Boddington explains, is not one to ?make teachers experts in the law or ethics in education,? but one which helps give them a basis with which to make informed decisions and realize the ?important dimensions that are likely to impact their professional lives.?

EDUC 404 does not require a prerequisite, though AU’s educational studies staff recommend that students complete EDUC 301 (Educational Issues and Social Change I: Historical Social Perspectives) or EDUC 302 (Educational Issues and Social Change II: Current Debates) first. Boddington emphasizes that EDUC 404 is ?fully transferable to other educational institutions in Canada.?

Consisting of eight involved units, EDUC 404 begins with the study of teachers and ethical decision making. Boddington indicates that this is necessary, as it helps students become ?aware of the need for teachers to know the law and ethics in their field.? Students also explore Canada’s legal history, with a focus on education and how and why the current educational legislation came into being.

The next few units explore the ?legal framework that exists for the provision, regulation, and governance of education? in Canada, says Boddington, and practical knowledge of its application to teachers is emphasized.

EDUC 404 also explores the role of teachers in ?the comprehension, acceptance, and application of the legal and ethical principles? in today’s society, says Boddington, and students have the opportunity to ponder how Canadian society portrays expectations of ?ethically correct? teacher roles and how these perceptions can affect the profession.

The final units of EDUC 404 demonstrate how ?law and ethics in education are relevant to the daily practice of teachers and educational human service professionals,? explains Boddington. This includes the rights of both students and teachers, as well as responsibilities of the teacher, according to Canada’s Labour and Employment Laws. Students cover issues of diversity, equality, and fairness in the educational atmosphere. Other current issues, such as discipline and punishment in the classroom, and where to ?draw the line,? so to speak, are also debated. Additionally, topics like classroom controversy are discussed.

Student evaluation consists of four assignments and one final exam (worth 40%). The first assignment (worth 10%), consists of a multiple-choice online quiz, which is instantly computer marked for quick feedback. The next three assignments (worth 15%, 15%, and 20%, respectively) have essay components. The first is a ?medium-sized essay or two short essays?; assignment 3 is a ?long essay or case study?; and the last assignment consists of a ?mini research paper,? between 2,500 and 3,000 words in length. The passing grade in each assignment and in the course is 50%.

Course professor Andy Khan is a Professor Emeritus of Legal Studies at Athabasca University. He was AU’s first Chair of the Centre for State and Legal Studies, as well as the first director of University Research at AU. Previously, Khan occupied teaching posts in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Pakistan. Dr. Khan has published in a wide variety of legal and education journals, including the U.K.’s Business Law Review and the Canadian Chapter of the U.S. Yearbook of Law Education. Dr. Khan has authored three other AU education-based courses in addition to EDUC 404.

For more information on EDUC 404, see the course syllabus, and for information on the Centre for State and Legal Studies, visit the Centre homepage.

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