Teachers’ Judgments about Ethical Violations Survey

Barrett, D. E., et al. (2012). How do teachers make judgments about ethical and unethical behaviors? Toward the development of a code of conduct for teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education 28:890–98.

Comments: The 41-item survey is a modification of the original 34-item survey developed by Barrett et al. in 2006. Six of the new items relate to the possible misuse of technology.

Sample: One hundred eight preservice teachers attending a public university in the southeast participated as well as 485 practicing educators from a school district in northwest South Carolina.

Reliability: The alpha coefficients are: 0.94 (Personal Harm-Seriousness), 0.89 (Personal Harm-Frequency), 0.84 (Carelessness-Seriousness), 0.82 (Carelessness-Frequency), 0.81 (Public/Private-Seriousness), 0.76 (Public/Private- Frequency), 0.87 (Grade Inflation-Seriousness), and 0.80 (Grade Inflation-Frequency).

Validity: Factorial validity was established using a principal components analysis with varimax rotation.

Factor Analysis: Although five factors were extracted, a four-factor solution was accepted because one factor was not interpretable. The four factors are: six items on personal harm (7, 8, 16, 22, 29, and 30); six items on carelessness (5, 11, 12, 13, 21, and 26); seven items on public/private boundary violation (17, 24, 25, 33, 34, 36, and 41); and five items on grade inflation (1, 10, 14, 27, and 28).

Definition of Factors: Personal harm pertains to the possibility of physical or emotional harm to a student. Carelessness pertains to unprofessional, careless behavior. Public/private boundary violation is the failure to recognize boundaries between public and private behavior. Grade inflation pertains to subjectivity in grading.

Data Analysis: Frequency distributions were calculated for each statement in order to determine the most frequent behaviors and the most serious behaviors. The results of the factor analysis were used to identify areas of teacher misconduct. In addition, a multivariate analysis of variance was performed to test for: within-subject differences in seriousness and frequency scores for the four factors, differences between preservice and Inservice educator in seriousness and frequency scores for the four factors; and differences between men and women in seriousness and frequency scores for the four factors.


Barrett, D. E., et al. (2006). Teachers’ perceptions of the frequency and seriousness of violations of ethical standards. Journal of Psychology 140:421–33.

Boon, H. J. (2011). Raising the bar: Ethics education for quality teachers. Australian Journal of Teacher Education 35(7):76–93.

Cummings, R., et al. (2001). Principled moral reasoning and behavior of preservice teacher education students. American Educational Research Journal 38:143–58.

International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). National education technology standards for teachers (2nd ed.). Eugene, OR: Author.

Teachers’ Judgments about Ethical Violations Survey

1. A teacher raises a child’s grade due to parental pressure.
2. A teacher spends considerable class time engaged in activities irrelevant to the subject area.
3. A teacher knowingly allows a student to violate a school rule in his or her classroom.
4. A teacher fails to keep an accurate record of his or her students’ academic performance.
5. A teacher makes a statement about subject matter without being certain that it is correct.
6. A teacher teaches a course without attempting to follow state curriculum guidelines.
7. A teacher gives rewards or punishments to students based on students’ popularity.
8. A teacher engages in a romantic relationship with a student.
9. A teacher uses the classroom to promote his or her religious views.
10. A teacher raises a student’s grade due to pressure from the student.
11. A teacher returns student papers without identifying or correcting errors.
12. A teacher gossips to other teachers about a student.
13. A teacher begins a class without having prepared a lesson.
14. A teacher gives a child a higher grade than the child deserves because the teacher likes the child.

15. A teacher talks about highly personal subjects with a student.
16. A teacher uses profanity in the classroom.
17. A teacher uses technology in the classroom that has not been approved by the school’s technology administrators.
18. A teacher makes a derogatory statement to a student.
19. A teacher gives rewards or punishments to students based on students’ ethnic or cultural characteristics.
20. A teacher fails to follow special education guidelines.
21. A teacher makes a derogatory comment about a colleague to another teacher.
22. A teacher makes a sexually provocative statement to a student.
23. A teacher fails to report a colleague’s unethical behavior.
24. A teacher dresses inappropriately at work.
25. A teacher behaves in an unprofessional way while outside of work.
26. A teacher uses a lesson or materials developed by another teacher without giving credit to the teacher who devel- oped the material.
27. A teacher raises a child’s grade due to pressure from an administrator.
28. A teacher refuses to fail students, even when they perform poorly.
29. A teacher shares confidential information about a student with another student.
30. A teacher allows students to engage in romantic behavior in the classroom.
31. A teacher makes a derogatory comment about a colleague to a student.
32. A teacher copies material from a published text and distributes it to a class as though it is the teacher’s original material.
33. A teacher communicates with students about nonprofessional matters through Facebook, Twitter, or a similar social media site.
34. A teacher hires students to do chores.
35. A teacher gives students high grades in return for favors.
36. A teacher encourages students to address him or her by first name.
37. A teacher uses physical force to discipline a student.
38. A teacher changes a student’s grade or test score without justification.
39. A teacher fails to report a child’s threat of violence to self or others.
40. A teacher posts personal opinions about students on a public or semiprivate site such as Facebook.
41. A teacher downloads and implements a lesson found on the World Wide Web instead of creating an original lesson.

Scoring: A five-point Likert scale format is used. For each of the 41 statement respondents give two separate ratings:

  • the degree to which they agree or disagree that the behavior occurs frequently and (b) the degree to which they agree or disagree that the behavior represents a serious violation of professional standards. Strongly Disagree = 1; Disagree = 2; Neutral = 3; Agree = 4; Strongly Agree =