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We each are highly experienced instructors of undergraduate- and graduate-level psychology courses. We have held faculty positions at universities located in different regions in the United States, including the Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest. Collectively we have held faculty positions in psychology departments at large and midsize universities, where conducting research and training psychology doctoral students is a major aspect of one’s professional activities, and at a small liberal arts university where teaching is the primary focus of one’s duties as a faculty member.
Our parallel and shared experience regards the ethical challenge of responding to and managing requests, made by our students, which would favor and advantage them relative to their classmates enrolled in the same course. Increasingly, we each note challenges to instructing our psychology courses, which arise when students request additional coursework or an assignment to replace incomplete coursework to improve their grade. Typically these requests occur in the absence of an extenuating circumstance or documented excuse. Our concern is that faculty members encounter this sort of challenge often enough. Moreover, the manner in which faculty resolve such matters has important implications for training students who in the future will enter professions within the behavioral sciences. For example, on several occasions and across different courses, undergraduate students have asked us during the semester to assign to them additional coursework so that they may improve their grade. In such instances the other enrolled students in the course would not have received the same opportunity to improve their grade.