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Study of Ethical Values and Practices in Academic Programmes at a Higher Learning Institution

Kogilah Narayanasamy and M.V. Shetty
 
ABSTRACT
The study on ethical values in academic programmes has attracted the attention of many researchers throughout the world especially in view of its important role today. Many academic programmes today focus on how to make profit both for the individual and the organization and on how to increase the firm’s market share and shareholders value and in the process may compromise on their ethical values and have unethical practices. Thus, this study is undertaken to evaluate the extent of integration of ethical values in the academic programmes of the higher learning operating institution involved with post graduate and higher level programs. The impact of demographics and race of the lecturer and students have been separately ascertained. The sample has been taken from one college, rated to be high in ethical values and practices, a sample of 120 students and 31 lecturers from a leading college (reputed for ethical values) have been collated and analyzed for validation of the objectives. The explanation on ethics has been done to a large extent in the study. The study also indicates the number of higher learning institutions to indicate the extent of impact if these issues are appropriately addressed. Government policy in this regard also needs to be reviewed and improved to avoid deterioration of ethical values and practices in the dynamic market place of today. This study review that, the level at which lecturers at the institutions have high ethical values and do incorporate it in their lectures and discussions in the classroom. The impact of demographic factors on the ethical values and practice of the lecturers have useful insights for academic staff recruitment and staff training. On the other hand, students’ ethical values and behavior is a cause for concern to everyone as these future pillars of the nation have been found to have their ethical values and practices at low levels. The implications for the college management as to consider further emphasis on the teaching of ethics as a single subject, while incorporating a discussion of the ethical issues (like) related to the various subjects taught in the college. The college should also ensure that they support and nurture in cultivating of ethical values and practices in all aspects of their activities and operations. Eventually, this will ensure to provide advantageous environment for not only creating knowledgeable individuals but also ethical citizens and leaders.
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  How to cite this article:

Kogilah Narayanasamy and M.V. Shetty, 2008. Study of Ethical Values and Practices in Academic Programmes at a Higher Learning Institution. Journal of Applied Sciences, 8: 1354-1370.

DOI: 10.3923/jas.2008.1354.1370

URL: http://scialert.net/abstract/?doi=jas.2008.1354.1370

INTRODUCTION

Ethics in its broadest sense is perhaps more properly regarded as supradisciplinary than interdisciplinary, for it is concerned with human actions and agency and as such, has relevance to all areas of human endeavor. Within learning and teaching, there is an assumption that learning itself is a moral endeavor but ethics is often marginal as an overt discipline. Implied values are not made clear and are often unsupported by coherent and consistent arguments. Learning and teaching which takes as its primary objective the overt statement of these implied values facilitates scrutiny and provides a sound basis for debate regarding the role of moral values in education as a whole and in the evolution of ethics education across the curriculum.

A sociologist Raymond Baumhart asked business people What does ethics mean to you? Among the replies were the following:

Ethics has to do with what my feelings tell me what is right or wrong
Ethics has to do with my religious beliefs
Being ethical is doing what the law requires.
Ethics consists of the standards of behavior our society accepts

The replies above might be typical of our own and it is very subjective and it is narrowed down to the beliefs and the principle held by the particular person. Many people tend to equate ethics with own feelings. Being ethical clearly is not a matter of following one’s feeling but the feelings may recoil from doing what is right. Moreover, being ethical is not by any mean following the law. The law often incorporates ethical standards most citizens subscribe.

Irrespective of laws and guidelines, the questions of ethical issues in academic programmes at higher institutions determine a lot on individual conscience, pride and responsibility. Every decision, judgment or action is only taken or is performed when it is ethical to do so and whether it is ethical or will not depend on the beliefs and values one have and uphold in the context of academic programmes at higher institutions.

This study has taken the view that the inculcation of ethics into academic programmes at one of the higher learning institution. The underlying theme has been that an ethical curriculum is best constructed in an environment which itself is built upon sound ethical principles reflecting the interests of each of its major stakeholders name the lecturers, students and management of the institutions. An ethical college environment thus sets the stage for dealing specifically with the issue of ethics in the curriculum.

The study thus aims to present the findings in detail as follows.

Status of the ethical values and the extent of ethical practice of the lecturers at that institute. The impact of demographic factors such as gender, age, race, marital status, level of education and years of teaching experience on the lecturers’ ethical values and ethical practice will also be analyzed
Status of the ethical values and the extent of ethical behavior among the students. The impact of demographic factors such as gender, age, race, on the students’ ethical values and ethical behavior will also be analyzed
Degree to which ethics and related issues are incorporated in class discussions and lectures and the importance of incorporating ethical issues and ethics as a subject in academic programs

Therefore the objectives of this research (related with the institute of higher learning) are mainly:

To evaluate the ethical values of the lecturers and students
To evaluate the extent to which ethics and related issues are incorporated in class discussions and lectures
For each of the above an attempt is made to analyze the impact of demographic factors such as gender, age, race etc on their ethical values and beliefs

The details that were explored and highlighted in the above areas apply not only in the area of higher learning institutions, but also in all other areas of studies, where ethical issues are considered. Nevertheless, specifics to higher learning institutions are also covered in this study.

This study discusses the different perspectives of ethical issues in higher learning education system. The adoption of ethics in high learning education can change education entirely in the aspects of organization culture, business structure, behavior of students and even profitability. This study focuses on the possible drawbacks of ethical issues as the consequence of improper use of the higher learning education system.

A quick literature review/study indicated certain interesting observations that are highlighted below:

Gosling (2004) had described various kinds of key skills and ethics that enhance both of learn and teach in higher learning and teaching institution through the number of transferable skills. The author identifies the following ethics and key skills that enhance both of learn and teach in higher learning institution.

A consideration of Moral Theory develops an aptitude for clear and logical thought. Students learn to think critically and break down complex problems. Flexibility and Independence of Mind: Moral Theorists must be able to consider issues from multiple perspectives. A willingness to challenge orthodoxies is encouraged, as is the value of setting aside one’s own personal convictions to pursue an argument wherever it might lead.

Decision making: Moral theorists search for coherent principles of thought and action and learn to determine what kinds of evidence are needed to support their views and choices.

Moral theory students must learn to express their views verbally and in writing. There is an emphasis on group discussion and the articulation of arguments in direct response to verbal questions and critiques.

The limitation of article is that the author did not mention about the importance of the incorporate to ethical issues as a subject in the academic programs.

Wilcox and Ebbs (1992) explained the leadership compass values and ethics in Higher Education. Colleges and universities are custodians of knowledge. Because the possession of knowledge is the source of power, understood here as the ability to influence decisions in contemporary society, these institutions are also the gateway to power, significantly affecting the quality of economic and social life throughout the world. Thus, insofar as colleges and universities create and disseminate knowledge within a particular society, they are institutions with moral responsibilities to maintain the well-being of that society.

The role of the higher education professional should be looked at by means of ethical analysis more broadly conceived than scrutinizing campus ethical dilemmas under the microscope of ethical theories. The author has presented a good overview on ethics in learning community in this research. However, the author did not elaborate the complexity involved in this approach as well as the ethical issues of both students and lecturers would have justified the recommendation and convinced the readers.

Keisha (2003) conducted in collaboration with The Southern Institute for Business and Professional Ethics, a survey of higher education presidents on ethical issues in personnel management found that most believe in stated ethics policies and statements of values for their institutions. They also see short-term and long-term organizational benefits to practicing high ethical standards. Similarly, understand that a diverse workforce will help their institutions meet their goals.

A quantitative survey was developed to answer the following research questions:

1. What types of ethical decisions regarding employee management are currently facing higher education presidents?
2. Are higher education presidents and corporate CEOs facing similar ethical dilemmas regarding their employees?
3. Do higher education presidents and corporate CEOs respond to these ethical dilemmas with similar solutions?

The drawback of this article is the response from the higher education presidents in terms of percentage was quite strong for a mail survey (55.6%). It is difficult to find statistical significance within cross-tabulations when the sample size is so small. Another major limitation was the comparison of two surveys that were not drafted by the same researchers or mailed to the two response groups at exactly the same time. Every effort was made, however, to replicate the Southern Institute’s instrument, with only minor wording changes necessary to apply to higher education versus corporations.

Sungho (2001) described about ethical practices in higher education has been expected in countries that colleges and universities be founded and operated according to relatively high standards of moral and ethical obligations and principles and codes of behavior. The author also defined about that institutions have never tolerated plagiarism, academic sabotage, or falsification of research data. The limitation of this article is that the author only did a preliminary study and it did not had enough in-depth empirical data to support or show the interrelationship of the research issues.

Ray (1997) discussed about the role of universities in inculcating a culture of ethics as a prelude to the integration of ethics into the business curriculum. Also the author analyzed the following variables: the business school as a social system, power and micro-politics, culture and leadership and cultural change. Eventually, the author concluded the inculcation of ethics into business school is a complex process. It requires an understanding of the business school as a social system composed of a number of constituencies including, students, faculty, administration and technology, curricular and external environments. Each of these environments interacts in a maze of complexity that can be comprehended, in part, by paying attention to key variables such as power, micro-politics, culture and leadership. An ethical university environment thus sets the stage for dealing specifically with the issue of ethics in the curriculum. The article does not analyze the impact of demographic factors such as gender, age and race on their ethical values and beliefs. However this article should not be neglected in achieving research goals.

Business Week Online's (2003) had conducted a survey from their recent readers found out need overwhelming support for improved values-oriented training about ethics in the business schools. Besides, BWO thinks graduate business schools, which train people to become top executives, deserve low marks for their efforts to improve the ethical standards of their graduates. Eventually, BWO concluded the ethical training they received in business school not very useful in dealing with ethical issues at work. Their readers think the teaching of ethics should be rooted in practical discussions of actual business situations: 46% thought that alone would be sufficient, while 47% advocate combining practical discussions with instruction on the philosophical underpinnings of ethics. The limitations of this survey are on the issue of how receptive students might be to increase values and practices for the ethics training.

Peppas (2002) explained that corporate cultures are becoming increasingly diverse, thus increasing the likelihood that individuals working side by side to maximise shareholder value do not share similar ethical values. It is learned that there are similarities and differences in values, including ethics among individuals of different cultural backgrounds.

Thomas et al. (2004) stated that ethical failures became facts of the new century, not just textbook possibilities. The durability of ethical actions, in terms of social responsibility appears to us to therefore be located on the lines of shared values that enable to ensure durability not only within the organization, but also in establishments that are geographically and culturally far away.

Thomas et al. (2004) stated that the once fashionable notion that business ethics could be safely relegated toward the bottom of the corporate things to do list exists no longer. They also added that ethical failures became facts of the new century, not just textbook possibilities.

The reports were as discouraging; it leaves them feeling cynical, pessimistic and even helpless to the status of business leadership in our society. This showed us the difficulties inherent in maintaining long-term ethical behaviors in organizations. The ethics message that starts at the top of a firm and cascades down and throughout its membership can be of positive, neutral, or negative. Only the former is acceptable. Consistent ethical behavior in organizations cannot be left to chance; it cannot be abandoned to external regulation. They also believe that for business executives the strategic leadership responsibility for initiating changes has to include the goals of creating and sustaining ethical climates within so that employees act ethically as a matter of routine. In their article they include an opinion by Lynn Sharp Paine has noted the significance of this phenomenon, saying: Unethical business practice involves the tacit, if not explicit, cooperation of others and reflects the values and behavioral patterns that define an organization’s operating culture. They also include the diagram on the cost of ethical failure.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

This methodology adopted in this study to evaluate the ethical value and behavior inherent in the lecturers and students of higher learning institution. The analysis and findings presented in this project study are mostly derived from a field study of the lecturers and students in a college (primary source).

Ethical value of lecturer: In order to evaluate the ethical value of the lecturers a set of five questions were asked in the questionnaire as follows:

Q1 : In your opinion to what extent is it unacceptable to bribe a traffic policeman to avoid summons?
Q2 : To what extent do you keep secrets told to you by persons who confided in you?
Q3 : To what extent do you accept responsibilities for any your failures?
Q4 : To what extent do you accept ignorance when asked questions to which you don’t know the answer?
Q5 : To what extent do you live up to your promises?

The responses to these questions were based on a five point Likert Scale from Not at all to To a very large extent. A high value of 4 or 5 indicates to a large extent and to a very large extent and hence a high level of ethics with regards to each of the issues addressed. Thus the mean value of the responses to each of the five questions were tested to see if they are significantly more than or equal to 4 by using the one sample t-test.

Ethical practice/ behavior of lecturer: Next, the behaviors of the lecturers were evaluated by asking a set of four questions as follows.

Q1 : To what extent would you be willing to teach subjects that you have not really mastered?
Q2 : To what extent would you report any evidence of students cheating during examinations?
Q3 : To what extent would you allow a student’s Likeability to influence your grading?
Q4 : To what extent do you think it is alright for a lecturer to give tips for an upcoming examination?

The responses to these questions were based on a five point Likert Scale from Not at all to To a very large extent. A high value of 4 or 5 indicates to a large extent and to a very large extent and hence a high level of ethics with regards to each of the issues addressed. Thus the mean value of the responses to each of the five questions were tested to see if they are significantly more than or equal to 4 by using the one sample t-test.

Ethical values of students: In order to evaluate the ethical value of the students a set of five questions were asked as follows:

Q1 : In your opinion to what extent is it unacceptable to bribe a traffic policeman to avoid summons?
Q2 : To what extent do you keep secrets told to you by persons who confided in you?
Q3 : To what extent do you accept responsibilities for any your failures?
Q4 : To what extent do you spread rumors about your friends?
Q5 : To what extent do you live up to your promises?

The responses to these questions were based on a five point Likert Scale from Not at all to To a very large extent. A high value of 4 or 5 indicates to a large extent: and to a very large extent and hence a high level of ethics with regards to each of the issues addressed. Thus the mean value of the responses to each of the five questions were tested to see if they are significantly more than or equal to 4 by using the one sample t-test.

Ethical practice/behavior of students: The ethical behavior of the students was evaluated by asking a set of three questions as follows:

Q1 : To what extent do you think it is not acceptable to cheat during examinations?
Q2 : To what extent do you think it is not acceptable to download articles and copy and paste from the internet for your assignments and coursework?
Q3 : To what extent do you forget to return books and notes borrowed from your friends?

The responses to these questions were based on a five point Likert Scale from Not at all to To a very large extent. A high value of 4 or 5 indicates to a large extent and to a very large extent and hence a high level of ethics with regards to each of the issues addressed. Thus the mean value of the responses to each of the five questions were tested to see if they are significantly more than or equal to 4 by using the one sample t-test.

Perception on ethics: Lecturers and Students perception of the Importance of Ethics in Academic Programmes-Overall.

In the context of the lecturers their perception of the importance of the subject of ethics and the level of its incorporation in their lectures and class activities was measured by using four items in the questionnaire as follows:

Q1 : To what extent do you incorporate ethical issues in your course content?
Q2 : To what extent do you feel that ethics should be included as a subject in all academic programmes?
Q3 : To what extent do you emphasize the ethical issues related to your subjects in your lecturers?
Q4 : To what extent do you penalize your students for plagiarism in their assignments and other courses?

The responses to these questions were based on a five point Likert Scale from Not at all to To a very large extent. A high value of 4 or 5 indicates to a large extent and to a very large extent and hence a high level of ethics with regards to each of the issues addressed. Thus the mean value of the responses to each of the five questions were tested to see if they are significantly more than or equal to 4 by using the one sample t-test.

Results of the management’s emphasis on ethics: In the context of the students’ perception of the importance of the subject of ethics and the level of its incorporation in their lectures and class activities was measured by using four items in the questionnaire as follows:

Q1 : To what extent are ethical issues related to the subjects covered in the lectures?
Q2 : To what extent do the lecturers emphasize on ethical practices in class?
Q3 : To what extent do you think it is important to incorporate a course on ethics in all academic programmes?

The responses to these questions were based on a five point Likert Scale from Not at all to To a very large extent. A high value of 4 or 5 indicates to a large extent and to a very large extent and hence a high level of ethics with regards to each of the issues addressed. Thus the mean value of the responses to each of the five questions were tested to see if they are significantly more than or equal to 4 by using the one sample t-test.

Sample selection: The institutions of higher learning are primarily those institutions involved with award of qualifications leading to at a post graduate level. The higher learning institutions in Malaysia are given below:

Table: Number of higher learning institutions in Malaysia
http://www.msc.com.my/msc/CapabilityDev_InsOfHL.asp

As contacting them even on a samplified basis is impossible (due to time and cost constraints) unless government machinery is involved we restricted the study to one leading college (deemed to be high on ethics chosen was one of the earliest private education institution) and assumed that it is characteristic of the population in view of similarity of lecturers and students here with other institutes. Since the study focused both lecturers and students, from various academic programmes were included in this study. The final sample taken was made up of 120 students and 31 lecturers across many departments as given below:

Basis of sampling: Convenience sampling was selected as all participants have similar probability with respect to ethics value, practices and perceptions of ethics of lecturers and students.

Samples (lectures and students) were conducted in the following manner and their responses obtained through email, mail and personal interviews:

Questionnaire design: Two questionnaires were designed, one for the lecturers and the other for the students. The pretested questionnaire is given vide annexure.

The questionnaires were designed in line with the objectives stated above in which are restated as follows.

To evaluate the ethical values and the extent of ethical practice of the lecturers at one of the private education institution. The impact of demographic factors such as gender, age, race, marital status, level of education and years of teaching experience on the lecturers’ ethical values and ethical practice will also be analyzed
To evaluate the ethical values and the extent of ethical behavior among the students. The impact of demographic factors such as gender, age, race, on the students’ ethical values and ethical behavior will also be analyzed
To evaluate the extent to which ethics and related issues are incorporated in class discussions and lectures and the importance of incorporating ethical issues and ethics as a subject in academic programs

The questionnaire for lecturers was divided into four sections as follows.

Section A-demographics of the lecturers: This section consisted of a set of items to extract information on the personal information of the lecturers such as gender, age and race, level of education, marital status and years of teaching experience. This was done since it is believed that some of these factors may affect the ethical values and practice of lecturers.

Section B-ethical values of lecturers: This section was designed to evaluate the ethical values of the lecturers. This was done by operationally defining the concept of ethical values of any normal person.

Section C-ethical practice of lecturers: This section consisted of a set of questions this was designed to evaluate the ethical behavior of the lecturers.

The responses to these questions were based on a five point Likert’s Scale from Not at all to To a very large extent. A high value of 4 or 5 indicates to a large extent: and to a very large extent and hence a high level of ethics with regards to each of the issues addressed. Thus the mean value of the responses to each of the five questions were tested to see if they are significantly more than or equal to 4 by using the one sample t-test and ANNOVA tests, respectively.

The administration of the questionnaire was also done by operationally defining the concept of ethical practice of lecturers.

Theoretical framework of the research: As it fairly covers over a wide area of ethical values, practices and perception amongst lecturer and students an indication of the framework around which the study has been made was felt essential and interesting.

Where:

A = An indication of overall ethical status of lecturers
B = An indication of impact of demographics ethical values of lecturers
C = An indication of impact of demographics ethical practices of lecturers
D = An indication of impact on discussions and inputs in class room lectures and other modes of participations lecturers (modifiable)
E = Expectations of inputs and value based course curriculum to the value students (as per desired outcome to be created)
A’ = An indication of overall ethical status of lecturers
B’ = An indication of impact of demographics ethical values of lecturers
C’ = An indication of impact of demographics ethical practices of lecturers
D’ = An indication of impact on discussions and inputs in class room lectures and other modes of participations lecturers (modifiable)
E’ = Expectations of transformation to a value oriented/based student (desired outcome can be created)
F’ == Expectations of transformation to a value oriented/based society in the future (Desired outcome can be planned through policies and programs)

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Demographics of the sample lecturers and students: The demographics of the sample lecturers and students have been dealt with separately.

In the context of the lecturers, emphasis is placed on demographic factors such as gender, age, race, marital status, level of education, monthly income and years of teaching experience (A).

Their effect on ethical values and practices of lecturers are analyzed as per ANOVA and other tests and given below with inferences and implications.

On the other hand, the demographics for the sample students will focus on gender, age, race, nationality and the academic programmes they are enrolled in (B).

Their effect on ethical values and practices of students are analyzed as per ANOVA and one pair test and given below with inferences and implications.

Finally the management emphasis by one sample test was undertaken and given below.

For purposes of convenience the tables have been given vide annexure and the summary with findings given below:

Demographics of the sample lecturers: Lecturer sample shows that 60% are males and 40% are females, not an absolutely equitable distribution (Table 1).

Lecturer Sample shows lecturers age of 26-30 years (50%) 31-40 years (29%) and rest is 21% thus, the lecturers are fairly young with a small group of senior lecturers (Table 2).

One observes that the marital status of the lecturers was also analyzed to see if the ethical values varied according the various categories. The above table indicates that about 58% of the lecturers are married with about 38% of them single and one widowed lecturer (Table 3).


Table 1: Gender distribution

Table 2: Age distribution

Table 3: Distribution by marital status

Table 4: Race distribution

Table 5: Distribution by level of education

One observes that the race distribution of the lecturers indicate that a large proportion of the lecturers are Indians and Chinese who are more or less equally divided with about 40% each and about 20% Malay lecturers (Table 4).

One observes that all the sample lecturers are at least degree holders and about 70% of them have at least a master degree which is very much in line with the requirements of the Local National Accreditation Board (LAN) (Table 5).

One observes that the data in the above table indicates that about 78% of the sample lecturers have at least 3 years of teaching experience. This represents that the institute has as set of reasonably mature teaching staff (Table 6).

Demographics of the sample students: One observes that the student sample is more or less quite equally divided between both genders (Table 7).


Table 6: Distribution by years of experience

Table 7: Gender distribution

Table 8: Age distribution

One observes that the students sample is quite representative of the population since it covers three main age categories into which most of the students fall namely the 16-20 years category, the 21-30 years category and the 31-40 years category. However a good majority of the students sampled namely 66.7% comprises of students in the age range of 21 to 30 years (Table 8).

One observes from the descriptive statistics presented in Table 9 that two thirds of the students sampled are Malaysians and the remaining one third are foreign students studying in the institute from China, India, Korea and Nigeria. Among the Malaysian students 60.5% of the students are Chinese followed by 23.7% Indians, 10.5% others and 5.3% Malays.

One observes that the sample of students was also analyzed by the academic programmes the students were enrolled in and the results are presented in Table 10. As can be seen most of the students sampled are from the School of Business and Marketing and the School of Economics, Accounting and Finance.

Findings on ethical values and practice of lecturers
Lecturers’ ethical values-overall: One observes that the mean for each of the items are more than four except for Q4 which is the accepting ignorance when asked a question to which they do not know the answer. Further more the means for all the items were found to be

significantly more than 4 except for Q4 which is found to be significantly less than 4. In addition the overall mean is 4.1806 which are also significantly above 4, thus indicating high level ethical values among the sample lecturers in the institute (Table 11).


Table 9: Race-nationality distribution

Table 10: Student distribution by school of academic program

Table 11: Results of the one-sample test for evaluating lecturers ethical values

However, their mean response for Q4 which was significantly lower than 4 indicates that some of the lecturers may not be willing to accept ignorance when they do not know the answer to a question asked of them. This is usually an ego related problem.

The inference one draws is that the lecturers needs to be empowered to operate for transparency and integrity so that they own their true selves and operate from their values rather than their weaknesses. This enables them to improve their ethical values and practices once they recognize their importance and are convinced about it.

Impact of demographic factors on ethical values of lecturers
Gender effect: No significant difference between the ethical values based on gender.

The inference thus is that programs on ethical values and practice could be common with no differentiation or special (gender driven) programs need be worked out or implemented. The implication maybe that EV and EP are humanitarian issues and should be addressed in an egalitarian way with mature people (Table 12).


Table 12: ANOVA results for impact of gender on ethical value of lecturers

Table 13: ANOVA results for impact of age on ethical value of lecturers

Table 14: ANOVA results for impact of marital status on ethical value of lecturers

Age effect: One observes that there is a significant age effect on the ethical values of the lecturers. The mean ethical value score for lecturers in the age group of 21-25 years with a value of 3.8000 seems to be significantly less than that for the other groups. In fact the mean score for ethical value of lecturers seem to increase with the age of the lecturers from 3.8 for the youngest category to 4.44 for the above 50 years category. This indicates that the more senior lecturers generally have greater ethical values (Table 13).

The inference therefore is that either there is a gradual decline in the values of people as reflected in lower age being less value-oriented or values are generated by maturity and experience. In such cases all training programs have to be experiential and led by senior people for greater acceptance. Role plays, skits, movies, cases etc. would have a greater impact than a well structured theoretical inputs. It also indicates the urgency to stem the decline in values.

Marital status: One observes that there is a significant difference between single and married lecturers. The mean score for single lecturers was 3.9846 whereas the mean score for the married lecturers was 4.3222. Thus the married lecturers seem to have significantly higher ethical values compared to their single counterparts (Table 14).

The inference maybe that the responsibilities of marriage and social relationships leads to greater recognition and practice of ethical values, which the pleasure seeking singles may not recognize as important. It also emphasizes on the importance of ethical values and practices for trust and sound relationship building, the cornerstone of successful marriage.

The implications are the need to have a stronger orientation in values to the singles and youth and to empower the institution of marriage. A special pre nuptial program, so that marriages are well grounded on values (in perception and practice), would ensure an early take off and smooth sustenance as well as a longer and healthier social life through the family system, which unfortunately is now looked down as old fashioned and traditional.

One observes that there is no significant race effect on the ethical values of lecturers. The mean score are all races are in the range of 4.0 to 4.4. The mean score for the Chinese lecturers is 4.0, Malays 4.1 and Indians 4.3 (Table 15).

The inference is that perhaps educational growth has leveled the silly differentiation of race over value orientation. However this could also be due to the fact that Malaysia’s special feature of harmony amongst the races and may not be true in other regions, who may be differentiating strongly on race (this opens the door to further region specific research).

The implications are that common training programs for EV and EP may be reasonably accepted except for the language barrier.

Level of education: One observes that there is no significant level of education effect on the ethical values of lecturers. The mean score are all within the range of 4.0 to 4.5. However, the mean score for the lecturers’ ethical values are highest for those with MBA and Ph.D.

The inference is that one’s upbringing is more important in EV and EP rather than environmental influence and educational programs. The latter observations (of MBA and Ph.D being higher), though may due to broadening of people of the environment (wider perspective gathered during more years of interactions).

The implications are that EV and EP programs can be addressed merely by theoretical inputs to any category of qualified people if they are well grounded by education and keen in EV and EP. The programs on EV and EP can thus be addressed even by theories to thus make one grounded in cognitive intelligence (education) and keen in EV and EP, maybe by online or distance education (correspondence mode) to this segment of people. Maybe one could have common day workshops for this targeted group of participants even across different perception levels. However for EV and EP inputs to children, parent programs and their involvement are more important than theories and righteous practices as upbringing is more important than inputs (Table 16).

No. of years of teaching experience: There is a significant effect of the No. years of experience on the ethical values of lecturers. The mean score for ethical values seem to increase with the years of experience.


Table 15: ANOVA results for impact of race on ethical value of lecturers

Table 16: ANOVA results for impact of level of education on ethical value of lecturers

Table 17: ANOVA results for impact of years of teaching experience on ethical value of lecturers

Table 18: Results of the one-sample test for lecturers ethical practice

The mean score was 3.9429 for lecturers with 1-2 years of experience, 4.0833 for those with 3-5 years experience and 4.4167 for those with 11-20 years of experience (Table 17).

The inference is that ethics grow with maturity and experience that stimulate greater understanding and convictions of life, people, society and roles and responsibilities that improve relationships and trust amongst each other. As age is not a criteria here (but the length of service) it clarifies the role of maturity and experience being more vital than other demographics, in other words, if you can stimulate experiential learning for inputs the effect of EV and EP being absorbed would be more pronounce.

Findings on the ethical practices or behavior of the lecturers: The mean is only above four for Q2 and Q3. However, neither of this is significantly more than four. Furthermore the means for Q1 and Q4 are less than four. In addition Q1 is significantly less than 4. The overall mean is 3.8548 but is not significantly less than 4, thus in contrast to the findings on the ethical values of these lecturers, their behaviors of practice seem to deviate from one that can be defined as highly ethical based on the items used in the questionnaire (Table 18).

The inference is that though many are inclined (highly) to EV that could be due to upbringing or special interests in earlier years, with time and challenges that are beyond their capabilities, they fall short of expected behavior ethically. This could be due to pressure of environment or stress to perform with dire consequences otherwise. The implications are that conviction on EV as an integral part of life has not been established and needs to be addressed through motivational programs where they reaffirm their values with more grit and determination.

Impact of demographic factors on ethical practice of lecturers

Gender effect: There is no significant difference between the ethical practice or behavior of male and female lecturers. Thus the results provide no significant evidence of a gender effect on ethical practice of lecturers. The mean score for male lecturers was 2.76922 whereas the mean score for female lecturers was 2.7222 (Table 19).

This has been discussed in value earlier and the practice is merely an expression of their convictions (practice follows perception). This validates the fact that commitment level to ethical practices is more a humanitarian issue and not a gender based one. Implications as mentioned earlier are a common based programs of training.

Age effect: Here is a no significant age effect on the ethical practice of the lecturers. However, the mean score for ethical practice seems to increase from 2.5 for those in the 21-25 years of age category to 3.1 for those who are over 50 years (Table 20).

As mentioned earlier in EV the attitudes and upbringing play a greater role than environment and programs has to be so addressed. The simple difference in scores could be due to decline of values in the present time due to the attitude that these are not relevant or traditional. The implications are that these are to be urgently addressed.

Marital status: There is no significant difference between single and married lecturers. The mean score for single lecturers was 2.5769 whereas the mean score for the married lecturers was 2.8611. Thus the married lecturers seem to have higher mean score for ethical practice but the difference is not significant. The mean scores are both less than 3 and this call for concern (Table 21).

This is similar to the observations on EV, but a study correlating EP with the length of marriage would confirm the importance of the role of trust and relationship building of EV and EP in a married life and needs to be researched.


Table 19: ANOVA results for impact of gender

Table 20: ANOVA results for impact of age

Table 21: ANOVA results for impact of marital status

Table 22: ANOVA results for impact of race

Table 23: ANOVA results for impact of level of education

Race: One observes that there is no significant race effect on the ethical practice of the lecturers. The mean score was 2.6250 for Chinese lecturers, 2.7692 for Indian lecturers and 2.9167 for Malay lecturers. All of which are less than 3 which is rather discouraging.

The inference here again is that attitude to value and commitment to practice are more important than race and is a humanitarian issue, not a political one. Implications are common programs except for language barriers (Table 22).

Level of education: Here is no significant level of education effect on the ethical practice of the lecturers. The mean score are all less than three and within the range of 2.6406 for master’s holders to 2.9375 for degree holders (Table 23).

This reconfirms the fact that upbringing, culture, attitude, etc. are stronger determinants of EP than cultivated steps or theoretical inputs through education. Implications is to focus on upgrading the system for parent ward relationship and upbringing than lecture or class inputs.

Surprising fact or is that in EP PGs have indicated a lesser commitment to UG’s leading one to believe that stress inputs might have led to greater compromises, which needs to be addressed.

Years of teaching experience: Data seems to indicate no significant effect of the number of years of experience on the ethical practice of lecturers. The mean score of ethical practice for all the three categories of years of experience from 1-2 years to 3-5 years to 11-20 years are all less than three and in the range of 2.75 (Table 24).

This ahs been elaborated in EV and it confirms that the practice is governed by perception of EV and convictions born of it rather than any other demographics.

Findings on ethical values and behavior of students-overall

Students ethical values: The mean values of all the five items are all significantly less than 4. This indicates that generally the ethical value of the students is low and is not very encouraging.

The inference is quite alarming to note indicating importance of EV is undermined in preference to other issues maybe commercial interests, but it validates the decline of the quality of upbringing. Implications are alarming for the pillars are shaky and society of tomorrow would be either infirm or hollow and needs urgent addressal. This leads the future generation to learn the hard way, by knocks born of neglect of values and poorer relationships, what one could have nipped in the bud through value based living. Perhaps value based education or vale oriented training programs by experts in the field inculcating attitudes and highlighting the same to parents/wards for improved upbringing is crucial (Table 25).

Impact of demographic factors on ethical values of students

Gender effect: There is a significant difference between the ethical value of male and female students. The mean score for ethical value of male students is significantly higher with a score of 3.2357 whereas the female students have a mean score of 2.9562.This indicates that male students have significantly higher ethical values compared to female students. However, these values are less than four is a bit worrying (Table 26).

The inference indicates that the decline of values in the female is faster than expected; which may be due to any of the following reasons:

Sudden freedom given to female members as against the earlier constraints of society.
Increase in coeducational participation and work force relationships and opportunities.
Lack of importance of the earlier family builder concept during the present upbringing.
Reduced or scant respect today for the regulating elders as too traditional and not fitting the modern generation as perceived by them.

Table 24: ANOVA results for impact of years of teaching experience

Table 25: Results of the one-sample test for evaluating students ethical values

Table 26: ANOVA results for impact of gender

Male members on the other hand had sufficient privileges, which have been now restrictive leaving them with little option but to follow values to avoid unnecessary legal entanglements.

The implications expected are a rapid decline of the family system and family values that have been the mainstay of society. Decline may be more rapid than expected and is losing control of the system.

This needs urgent review and addressal at the fundamental and strategic levels.

Age effect: There is no significance age effect on the ethical values of the students at the 5% level. However, the mean score seems to be increasing with age from 2.8706 for those in the age group of 16 -20 to 3.2889 for those in the age group of 26-30 years (Table 27).

This may be due to span/range being small. A more focused research may bring out more specific findings. However the elderly having better scores reflects the oft said fear of reduced living values.

Race: There is no significant race effect on the ethical values of the students at the 5% significance level. The mean score are all in the range of 2.8308 to 3.3250. The mean score for the Chinese students is 3.1135, Malays 3.3000 and Indians 2.8308 (Table 28).

The inference as highlighted earlier is the situation is an universal one and change in all regions has been revolutionary rather than gradual.

The implications expected are that in the world ethical values would be declining unless deliberate and planned inputs are introduced in a fundamental and strategic manner globally and urgently.

Students ethical behavior: Once again the mean scores for all the three items and the overall score are significantly less than four, thus indicating much to be desired with regards to the students’ behavior from an ethical point of view (Table 29).

Impact of demographic factors on ethical values of students (overall)
Gender effect: There is a significant difference between ethical behavior of male and female students. The mean score for ethical behavior of male students is significantly higher with a score of 3.3452 whereas the female students have a score of 2.7296. This indicates that male students have significantly higher ethical behavior compared to female students (Table 30).

The inference and implications are similar to those in the EV section.

Age effect: There is a significant age effect on the ethical behavior of the students at the 5% level. There is a significant different between the mean score for the students in the age range of 16-20 and those in the age range of 21-25. The score for the 16-20 years age group was the lowest score with a value of 2.5294 and the highest score was for the 21-25 years age group with a score of 3.3441 (Table 31).

Inference is that the decline is being self corrected by society

Race: One observes that there is no significant race effect on the ethical behavior of the students at the 5% significant level.

The views indicated in EV apply here also and it is a universal phenomenon (Table 32).

Lecturers and students perception of the importance of ethics in academic programmes-overall: The inference is that lecturers are keen in being value oriented but have lukewarm commitment with pressures from other priorities. This maybe due to recognition of importance of ethical values but not willing to adhere to the rigorous requirements for any of the following reasons:

Not in appraisal system by management
Taking a liking for the new trends and feeling good about it
Fear of being misconstrued by the youngsters and treated as out of modern tunes (old fashioned) and righteous
May have an inherent weakness for an easier and more comfortable life that necessitates compromise in ethical values
Pressure from the top management who have other priorities overriding ethical values

The implications expected are an empowerment of the unethical youngsters by appearing to be in agreement with their ways.

The mean for all four items and the overall measure was not significantly different from 4. Thus, indicating that the lecturers in general do give importance to ethics to a large extent but not a very large extent. This is indicated by the fact the mean score for almost all of the items including the overall measure are in the close vicinity of a score of four. This finding is really encouraging (Table 33).

Furthermore an item was included in the questionnaire to find out to what extent the management of the college emphasizes on the ethical practices of these lecturers.

Management’s emphasis on ethics: The mean score for this item was 3.4194 and it is found to be significantly less that 4 thus indicating that the college management does not seem to emphasize on ethics to a great extent. In fact the management’s emphasis on ethics is perceived by the lecturers as only to a small extent.

The main inference is that priorities of those managing institutions of higher learning are different and needs to be transformed to the right perspective. The actual reason could be region specific and needs to be undertaken through a different more focused research and needs to be backed by a more practical policy by the government (Table 34). transformation of these issues or results to a more enlightened ones and the commercial focus to be subordinated to value based focus, with a broader view of bringing forth a healthier and better society of the future.

The mean scores for all three items are all significantly less than 4 indicating that the incorporation of ethics in their lecturers and courses is not really significant and the students only perceive that ethics as a subject is important to a small extent. This finding is in conflict with that indicated by the lecturers. This would seem to provide evidence that the lecturers’ emphasis on ethics in class is somewhat not made obvious to the students. Thus, the lack of awareness of the ethical issues incorporated in class may be due to the way it is presented by the lecturers (Table 35).

The inference is as feared, value based education is being relegated to the background backed by improvements in cognitive knowledge that may fetch a better job.

Table 27: ANOVA results for impact of age

Table 28: ANOVA results for impact of race

Table 29: Results of the one-sample test for evaluating students’ ethical behavior

Table 30: ANOVA results for impact of gender

Table 31: ANOVA results for impact of age

Table 32: ANOVA results for impact of race

Implications are that Corporates would have problems in getting value based employees at the later date also. It is therefore imperative to sensitize Corporates of the grave danger brewing and empower them to have value based students in their recruitment plans. This would coerce/ drive students and create awareness and slowly acceptance of the importance of value based education and life.

Finally, a question was also asked to evaluate the students’ perception of the management and the staff commitment to ethics and ethical behavior. The mean score for this item was only 2.9333 and the one sample mean test result is presented in the following (Table 36).

Table 33: Results of the one-sample test for evaluating incorporation of ethics in the course content

Table 34: Results of the management’s emphasis on ethics

Table 35: Results of the one-sample test for evaluating incorporation of ethics in the course content

Table 36: Results of the management’s emphasis on ethics

Results of the Management’s Emphasis on Ethics we observe that the results indicate that the students do not have a very good opinion or perception of the staff and management with regards to ethical behavior.

The mean score for ethical values of lecturers is generally higher with a value of 4.1806 whereas that for students is lower with a value of 3.0867. However the mean score for ethical practice is again higher for lecturers (3.8548) than that for students which was at a value of 3.0222. Thus, there is a mismatch between the ethical value and practice of lecturers. However, such a mismatch is not evident amongst students’ ethical value and ethical behavior. The findings tend to indicate that the lecturers who do have high ethical values may somehow be constrained from ethical practice due to heavy competition in the private education sector. On the other hand, in the case of the students there may not be any factors constraining their ethical behavior to deviate from their ethical values.

The inference is that we observe that the college procedures/practices are not healthy and lecturers and management do not walk the talk. There are superficial interventions and inclusions of inputs of EV (not from the heart) and hence loses its attraction of the students, who overlook trivialities and also beyond the apparent.

The implications are the poor accountability would pay destructive dividends at a crucial time.

This needs to be addressed urgently.

CONCLUSIONS

Ethical values of lecturers: Based on the field study and data analysis inferences and implications have indicated at the appropriate points.

The findings however indicated that some of the lecturers may not be willing to accept ignorance when they do not know the answer to a question asked of them. This is usually an ego related problem which is not very encouraging.

There was no significant effect on the gender, race or level of education on the ethical values of the lecturers at the learning of higher education.
The ethical values of the lecturers seem to increase with the age of the lecturers. This may be a result of years of experience, training received and mental maturity of these lecturers or decline of value system in the young lecturers This needs an exploratory research of a more focused nature.
The ethical value of married lecturers was found to be significantly higher than that of single lecturers. Thus indicating that the responsibilities and commitment involved in a marriage may seem to have some spill over effects on the ethical values of these lecturers. Single members should be sensitized to EV, least they defer marriage and its responsibilities with unhealthy/dire consequences.
The ethical values of the lecturers also seemed to increase with the years of teaching experience. This may be in line with the findings with regards to age of the lecturers since there could be a high correlation between age of lecturers and the years of teaching experience and the expectations of leadership role is serious (in the Asian culture).

Ethical practice of lecturers:

The data indicated that the lecturers’ ethical behavior is acceptable.
There was no significant effect of the gender, age, race and marital status, level of education and years of teaching experience effect (demographics) on the ethical behavior of the lecturers.

The lecturers’ ethical practice is not really as high as their personal ethical values although it seems to be at an acceptable rate as indicated by the mean overall score. The likely reasons for have been indicated in the data analysis section, but the difficulty in maintaining EV in a competitive environment.

Ethical value of students:

Generally the ethical value of the students is low and is not very encouraging.
The ethical values of the male students were found to be significantly higher than their female counterparts.
The ethical values of the students seem to be significantly increasing with age at the 10% significance level. Thus indicating that older students are generally more ethical.
There was a significant race effect on ethical values at the 10% significance level.

The student’s ethical value is low and unsatisfactory indicating the need for more emphasis on ethics in the subjects and courses taught at the college. The inputs are to be fundamental in nature and motivation should be in the upbringing leading one to recognize he importance for parental training. Detailed analysis has been made in the section on data analysis.

Ethical behavior of the students:

The ethical behavior of students at the College is inadequate.
The mean score for ethical behavior of male students is significantly higher with a score of 3.3452 whereas the female students have a score of 2.7296. This indicates cause for concern with the family builder being an indifferent no role player.
There is a significant different between the mean score for the students in the age range of 16-20 and those in the age range of 21-25. The score for the 16-20 years age group was the lowest score with a value of 2.5294 and the highest score was for the 21-25 years age group with a score of 3.3441. `
There was no significant race effect on the ethical behavior of students.

There is a mismatch between the ethical value and behavior of students in institutions of higher learnings. Here the ethical behavior is more of concern Basically this calls for more emphasis on imparting ethics and in making students inculcate ethics in the academic programmes in colleges and institutions of higher learning today and urgently too, since these students are going to be tomorrow’s leaders and pillars of the nation.

Importance of ethics in subjects and courses: The lecturers in general do give importance to ethics and incorporate it to a large and large extent. This is indicated by the fact the mean score for almost all of the items including the overall measure are in the close vicinity of a score of four. This finding is encouraging. They should be sensitized on corporate ethics in MNCs leading to a better placement opportunity.

The students in general do not consider the incorporation of ethics in their lecturers and courses as really significant and the students only perceive that ethics as a subject is important to a small extent. This lack of emphasis towards ethics is really discouraging. One reason for this is the lack of awareness of association of ethics with long run profitability and happiness. Thus, there is a reason to highlight and emphasize that success in business and career is to a great extent dependent on ethical values and behavior (learnings form Enron and AA). Is that not what Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is all about?

The management emphasis on ethical values and practice or behavior: The lecturers’ perception is that the college management does not seem to show great emphasis on ethical values or ethical practice and credibility has to be built by the management.

The students do not have a very good opinion or perception of the staff and management with regards to ethical behavior which is a fundamental malady as students would take everything for granted and ignore any genuine efforts or inputs in transformation.

The ethical values and practice among the lecturers of the College is noteworthy. However, the relatively sad state of ethical values and behaviour amongst the students in the College may the result of the environment and the students past education experience. Thus it may be beyond the control of the management of the College. However, they can certainly ensure that the students acquire high levels of ethics before they graduate and leave the college. This should in fact be one of their missions namely to create not only professionals who are not only equipped with knowledge but also with high levels of ethical values which is reflected in their behaviours and practice as well.

Recommendations to the college: Based on the findings reported in the foregoing sections the following recommendations are made to the management of the College.

In the recruitment of lecturers the management should emphasize on the years of teaching experience in order to build a pool of lecturers who are of high ethical values. It would also be good to have younger lecturers assigned to a senior lecturer to as a mentor for healthy sharing of their teaching experience and ethical values.
The college should also look into incorporating ethics in all subjects taught at the college.
The management should also nurture the high ethical values of the lecturers by providing them with the necessary environment and support so that they are able to create a highly ethical teaching environment for the students.

The management should also ensure that the all staff including the administrative staff exhibit high ethical values in their day to day activities and operations.

The management should walk the talk and show genuine interest (amongst all other priorities) to Value orientation.

Limitations of the study: It must also be noted that this was just an exploratory study and thus has several limitations which are outlined as follows.

The sample size is only of on institution and the unit number was restricted to 120 students and 31 lecturers from one of the branches of the College. Thus the findings reported in this study may be limited with regards to its universal nature.
The questionnaire was designed for this study merely based on the literature reviewed. Thus the instrument is not a pre-tested one whose validity is ensured.
 

The sample was on a convenient mode.

Future research: Based on the limitations highlighted above, the following recommendations are made for future research in this area.

The research should focus on a larger sample of colleges to enhance the universal applications of the result.

The future research should also consider a larger sample of students and lecturers so that the validity of the findings is ensured.

It would also be good to include foreign universities and colleges to compare the emphasis on ethical values and practice or behavior in both foreign and local colleges operating in Malaysia.

REFERENCES
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Gosling, D., 2004. Approaches to ethics in higher education teaching ethics across the curriculum 2004. Centre of the Learning and Teaching. http://www.prs.heacademy.ac.uk/publications/ethics_across_curriculum.pdf.

Keisha, L.H., 2003. Ph.D. and judith bischof, kennesaw state university's RTM institute for leadership. Ethics and Character.

Peppas, S., 2002. Attitudes towards business ethics: Where East doesn’t meet West. Cross Cultural Manage., 9: 42-49.
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Ray, F.C.P., 1997. Ethics in higher education-setting the stage. http://web.utk.edu/~unistudy/values/ proc1997/rfc.htm.

Sungho, H.L., 2001. International higher education fall. The Graduate School, Yonsei University. http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/soe/cihe/newsletter/News25/text013.htm.

Thomas, T., J.R. Schermerhorn and J.W. Dienhart, 2004. Strategic leadership of ethical behaviour in business. Acad. Manage. Executive, 18: 56-66.

Wilcox, J.R. and S.L. Ebbs, 1992. Promoting an ethical campus climate: The values audit. NASPA J., 29: 253-260.

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