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Revista iberoamericana de educación superior

On-line version ISSN 2007-2872


DIAZ-BARRIGA ARCEO, Frida; PEREZ-RENDON, María-Maclovia  and  LARA GUTIERREZ, Yazmín. You cannot teach professional ethics in a course: Psychology students report about critical incidents in lecture rooms and real scenarios. Rev. iberoam. educ. super [online]. 2016, vol.7, n.18, pp.42-58. ISSN 2007-2872.

The subject matter of professional ethics has tended to be solved by introducing at least one course in the curriculum of universities. However, the analysis of critical incidents referred by students about actual transgressions of the ethics code, leads us to question that this is necessary but not enough. This article describes the analysis of critical incidents (IC) related to professional ethics narrated by 57 students of a Psychology Bachelor’s degree at a public university. They had taken the professional ethics course in the sixth semester. The incidents show that the ethical principles most violated in psychology are related to competition and honesty in the practice of the professionals, as well as with the quality of teaching, research or supervision in real scenarios by the university professors. More than half of the critical incidents referred, occurred in clinical scenarios or in the health sector, followed by educational scenarios in public institutions, the university itself and community contexts. The role taken on by the students in their own narrative is the one of a witness, recipient, transgressor or listener, in this order. The results are discussed in terms of the formal, hidden or non-existent curriculum, of the professional ethos and the educational institution itself, as well as the need to reconsider the ethical education of psychologists at university.

Keywords : professional ethics; university curriculum; critical incidents; education of psychologists; hidden ethos.

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