Thursday, November 12, 2009

Responsible Behavior Statements for AECT Conventions

One presenter at AECT 2009 felt abused by one of the participants in the session. Apparently, the participant used very derogatory language in discrediting the perspective and ideas of the researcher. The presenter was unable to respond due to severe embarrassment. The person persisted with the harsh criticism; then, another participant said that the tone of the criticism was not appropriate. Because this incident has been brought to the attention of several persons, and I have now heard about it from several sources, all of whom basically reported the same thing, I feel obliged to suggest the following guidelines for responsible behavior at the convention:

AECT session presenters will:
1. include appropriate citations of sources and funding support in their presentations;
2. indicate Institutional Review Board approval when presenting research subject to IRB;
3. acknowledge all those who have contributed to the effort being presented;
4. allow time for questions and comments to the extent possible within time constraints;
5. stop immediately when the session facilitator indicates that time has expired; and,
6. avoid all use of denigrating language and treat all participants in the session with respect.

AECT session participants will:
1. be attentive during presentations;
2. turn off cell phone and not talk to others during presentations;
3. only interrupt with questions and comments when recognized by the presenter or the facilitator;
4. be respectful of the presenter even when making critical observations or asking very challenging questions;
5. avoid lengthy comments, keep questions short and focused, and stop when the session facilitator so indicates; and,
6. avoid all use of denigrating language and treat all participants and presenters in the session with respect.

AECT Session facilitators will:
1. introduce very briefly the session and session presenters;
2. distribute and collect session evaluation forms;
3. ensure that presenters do not exceed time limits set in advance;
4. ask any participant or presenter who is using inappropriate language or behaving inappropriately to cease and desist at once; and,
5. report any disruptive activities or inappropriate behavior to one of the conference planners.


  1. In a recent discussion with our university's lawyer about creating a code of ethics for our students, I was reminded that there are codes of behavior as well as codes of ethics. He suggested that besides having a formal code of behavior or conduct, it is also important to teach the skills needed for higher order, ethical decisions. I agree.

    The Code of Ethics in place at AECT is documented with case studies that can be used to promote active discussion of ethical behaviors. The case studies are also useful tools for teaching problem-solving and inviting higher order thinking.

    As a profession, I believe we tend to focus on behaviors rather than on building cognitive and social skills to help facilitate ethical behavior. It is just as important as instructional designers or as teachers to teach those skills in addition to providing rules of behavior or conduct.

    Promotion of ethical behavior is enhanced through teaching those skills that lead to self awareness and self discipline.

  2. While an exchange of ideas, such as those that occur at our convention, will generate opposing views and healthy disagreement, derogatory language and/or ad hominem attacks are never appropriate. This is especially true in a meeting of professionals. I expect that any methodological weaknesses in my work would be pointed out by my colleagues (which is why I present my work in a peer reviewed environment). However, I should never have to be afraid of being verbally attacked.

  3. I do hope we can include a statement of expected professional and ethical behavior and conduct for the convention in the convention program this coming year. While incidents of improper behavior are rare, it might help to be proactive in this area. I have charged the AECT Ethics Committee with the task of drafting a code of conduct for the AECT convention.

  4. I was very surprised about this, since I never encountered anything like it at AECT ever. I always found the session which I was in to be very polite and they hit a nice tone. I completely agree with the codex introduced above and think it should be obvious to most of the participant anyway. Thanks for bringing this up.