eCite Digital Repository

Ethical dilemmas: a model to understand teacher practice


Ehrich, LC and Kimber, M and Millwater, J and Cranston, N, Ethical dilemmas: a model to understand teacher practice, Teachers and Teaching: Theory & Practice, 17, (2) pp. 173-185. ISSN 1354-0602 (2011) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

The definitive published version is available online at:

Official URL:

DOI: doi:10.1080/13540602.2011.539794


Over recent decades, the field of ethics has been the focus of increasing attention in teaching. This is not surprising given that teaching is a moral activity that is heavily values-laden. Because of this, teachers face ethical dilemmas in the course of their daily work. This paper presents an ethical decision-making model that helps to explain the decision-making processes that individuals or groups are likely to experience when confronted by an ethical dilemma. In order to make sense of the model, we put forward three short ethical dilemma scenarios facing teachers and apply the model to interpret them. Here we identify the critical incident, the forces at play that help to illuminate the incident, the choices confronting the individual and the implications of these choices for the individual, organisation and community. Based on our analysis and the wider literature we identify several strategies that may help to minimise the impact of ethical dilemmas. These include the importance of sharing dilemmas with trusted others; having institutional structures in schools that lessen the emergence of harmful actions occurring; the necessity for individual teachers to articulate their own personal and professional ethics; acknowledging that dilemmas have multiple forces at play; the need to educate colleagues about specific issues; and the necessity of appropriate preparation and support for teachers. Of these strategies, providing support for teachers via professional development is explored more fully.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ethical dilemmas, teachers, ethical decision-making model, scenarios
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Specialist studies in education
Research Field:Educational administration, management and leadership
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Schools and learning environments
Objective Field:Management, resources and leadership
UTAS Author:Cranston, N (Professor Neil Cranston)
ID Code:68925
Year Published:2011
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2011-04-04
Last Modified:2017-07-25
Downloads:17 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page