Teaching and Learing at Indiana University Bloomington
Teaching and Learing at Indiana University Bloomington
Teaching and Learning at IUB
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Handbook Table of Contents > Preparing to Teach > Professionalism

Indiana University Teaching Handbook


Sexual Harassment

Adapted with permission from Farris, 1985, and the Indiana University Academic Handbook

The university’s educational mission is promoted by professionalism in instructor-student relationships. Professionalism is fostered by an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. Actions of instructors and students that harm this atmosphere undermine professionalism and hinder fulfillment of the university’s educational mission. Trust and respect are diminished when those in positions of authority abuse or appear to abuse their power. Those who abuse their power in such a context violate their duty to the university community.

Instructors exercise power over students, whether in giving them praise or criticism, evaluating them, making recommendations for their further studies or employment, etc. All amorous or sexual relationships between instructors and students are unacceptable when the instructor has any professional responsibility for the student. Such situations greatly increase the chances that the instructor will abuse his or her power and sexually exploit the student. Voluntary consent by the student in such a relationship is suspect, given the fundamentally asymmetric nature of the relationship. Moreover, other students and instructors may be affected by such behavior because it places the instructor in a position to favor one student’s interest at the expense of others and implicitly makes obtaining benefits contingent on amorous or sexual favors. Therefore, the university will view it as a violation of the Code of Academic Ethics if instructors engage in amorous or sexual relations with students for whom they have professional responsibility, either in an instructional context (a student enrolled in your class) or a non-instructional context (any decisions that may reward or penalize a student with whom he or she has or has had an amorous or sexual relationship, especially when the instructor and student are in the same academic unit or in allied units).

Issues of sexual harassment can be especially tricky for associate instructors because they occupy the roles of both instructor and student. Associate instructors are in a particularly vulnerable position: as an instructor you have some power over your own students, and as a graduate student you are subject to the power of the faculty over your academic record and letters of recommendation. Therefore, the issue of sexual harassment must be addressed from two directions; your potential for harassing (or being perceived as harassing) your students, and the potential for you to be harassed by those who instruct and supervise you.

The following are some general guidelines for protecting yourself and the students you teach from sexual harassment:

More information, including the formal definition of harassment and the procedures to follow in such cases, can be found in the IU Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct, Part I. A. 3 (1-2) and Appendix 2 (41-42).

Privacy of Student Records

Federal law provides for the confidentiality of student records. Each instructor must take care that student records not be revealed to anyone other than the student. If you post grades of any kind, be certain to establish for each student a special identification code (or use only a part of their ID numbers) that only you and the student know. Or you can post the grades via the World Wide Web, if you have set up an on-line grade book developed by the Bureau of Evaluative Studies and Testing (BEST, 855-1595). Use the students’ names and identification numbers to keep grade records, but do not permit any student to inspect those records.

Indiana University, in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 (also known as the Buckley Amendment), permits its students to inspect their records whenever appropriate and to challenge specific parts of them. Specific guidelines and procedures for inspection of student records may be found in Appendix 4 of the IU Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct (43-45). A detailed statement of these rights, and a summary of our institutional policies as mandated by the University Faculty Council, are set out in the Academic Handbook, the Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct, and the Schedule of Classes.

In general, the Buckley Amendment prohibits the release or disclosure to anyone other than the student her/himself of any part of the content of a student’s education records without the prior, written consent of the student. Some (relatively common) examples of the inappropriate disclosure of education records by instructors are:

Indiana University fully supports the rights of its students to access and review their education records and to prevent the disclosure of their contents to third parties without prior consent from the student. The university instructs all academic personnel to ensure that their practices comply with the university’s system-wide policy concerning the release of student information. University academic personnel who wish further clarification on these matters may contact Michael Klein or Kip Drew, Office of University Counsel, 855-9739.

(adapted by permission from an unpublished memo, K. R. R. Gros Louis, 1995)


The following links will take you to additional readings associated with this general section.

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Letters of Recommendation

Adapted with permission from University of Tennessee

Students may ask you to recommend them for a particular job, acceptance to another institution, or graduate school. If you feel you must decline, simply explain why not. If you are willing to write the letter, do so promptly, while you still have the student and his or her performance sharply in mind.

Keep in mind that you are legally responsible for statements you make in your recommendation, to the extent, at least, that you are liable for any deleterious remarks you make. If you have reason to be concerned about something you want to express, preface what you have to say with something like, “To the best of my knowledge . . . .” Under the Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a student has the right to see a copy of your recommendation unless he or she signs a waiver; however, if you wish to, you are free to give a copy of the recommendation to the student.

If you seek any further advice concerning the writing of these letters, please visit Writing Tutorial Services in the Wells Library.

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Teaching Portfolios

Teaching portfolios are becoming a common and highly successful tool for the evaluation of teaching. When done well they can be used for both summative and formative assessments of teaching. Summatively, portfolios give a much more comprehensive and accurate picture of your teaching than any other single device. Formatively, the portfolio helps an instructor reflect systematically and regularly upon his/her teaching. For anyone planning to apply for tenure or for a position at a university, a solid teaching portfolio is essential.

The Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning runs workshops every fall on how to develop a teaching portfolio. They also have handouts that provide suggestions and guidelines. Your department may also sponsor portfolio workshops.

Another good source of information is The Teaching Portfolio, by Peter Seldin. Seldin has categorized the material of a teaching portfolio into three areas, suggested by the list below. You might begin construction of your own portfolio by generating or collecting as many of these items as you can.

Documents that the teacher produces

Documents from peers, students, institutions

Documents showing student achievement

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