I'm a student in a bachelor program at a local university, while I'm also a teacher (professional school) of apprenticeship students within the same sphere of study.

A few days ago I received the participants list of a class which I going to teach next semester. I went briefly through the names and one quite unique name caught my interest. After a quick search on the web, I'm sure that one of the participants is the daughter of a lecturer who gives courses in which I'm enrolled at the university. He was grading my work and he will probably be grading my work in the future for one more course.

I had a few intense discussions with this lecturer about some topics of my studies. He also felt a bit insulted once because I missed some of his lectures, but we always stayed professional. I also feel that he graded my work and exams like the ones of any other student.

It's too late to find a replacement for me and this class? I'm wondering what should I do with this situation -- should I notify the school where I'm teaching about this?

  • 3
    Wow, this situation sounds almost too fantastical to believe. But: I have a friend that had almost the same thing happen to him (and coincidentally that friend’s name is Theo). – Konrad Rudolph Aug 16 at 9:56
  • 1
    Ideally, use anonymous grading. Also, sometimes names happen to be the same, but people are unrelated. This is the assumption I would make. – Captain Emacs Aug 16 at 11:01
  • 3
    Does your school have a policy about this? My experience is it varies per school whether it's acceptable or not. On some schools it's not unheard of for parents to teach & grade even their own children while on others it's absolutely not done. – Mast Aug 16 at 13:40
  • 2
    Seems like a couple of A grades in the making ;) – RandomUs1r Aug 16 at 19:17
  • I asked a follow-up question on whether looking up the student on the Internet is acceptable. Please take your stance on this aspect there. I will delete all comments pertaining to this issue. (@user96140) – Wrzlprmft Aug 16 at 19:22

I’ve had to teach colleagues children, nephews, and even the son & daughter of the Dean.

Be professional. Treat and grade them the same as any other student. They also think “oh sh*t s/he knows my Dad / Mum so I had better be careful”... :). Don’t call them out in class, but don’t avoid them either. If you do random questions and it’s their turn, then fine.

Don’t worry, they don’t go back to your Dean talking about your teaching performance. They just want to benefit from your wisdom / experience / knowledge same as the other students...

  • 10
    Hopefully! :) Yes, it is worth making the point that the kids themselves, if they are not entitled brats, etc., will already be conscious of the potential issues, and accommodate. It's the now-and-then entitled brat who creates difficulties, so a "paper trail" of awareness" is appropriate (with due account of FERPA, in the U.S.) – paul garrett Aug 16 at 0:14
  • @paulgarrett Question is tagged europe, and I'm not familiar with any similar laws in the EU. Although GDPR as a general rule comes close I guess. – Mast Aug 17 at 13:31

Yes, you should notify the school. However, part of being a professional is just being professional. You don't indicate any issues that seem to imply anyone behaving badly, so I think you should go ahead. But not notifying the school (and probably the lecturer as well, if the daughter is a minor) would be a mistake. If something bad happens in the future, you don't want that incident to be the first indication that there might have been a conflict of interest from the start.

I would answer quite differently if you thought there was a likelihood of conflict with the lecturer.

  • 26
    I don't think you should email the lecturer, at least in the US. It sounds like it is two different institutions and could be a FERPA violation (imagine the lecturer doesn't know his daughter is enrolled in a professional school). – StrongBad Aug 15 at 22:49
  • 4
    @StrongBad, I assumed the daughter was a minor child. If not, you are correct. I made an edit. – Buffy Aug 15 at 22:59
  • I asked a follow-up question on whether looking up the student on the Internet is acceptable. Please take your stance on this aspect there. I will delete all comments pertaining to this issue. (@Beska) – Wrzlprmft Aug 16 at 19:23

Personally, I think this is slightly more serious situation than just teaching colleagues children as the lecturer in your university will be grading your work. That means there is direct power and benefit structure existing. The angle I would be worried is that someone else will claim you are grading the daughter more positively to gain better grades from dad. I don't think that's too high of a risk, but still worth to note.

I agree that you can notify the school. In addition, if your course has assignments you are grading, I suggest that you ask colleague who has relevant enough knowledge about the topic to take a look at the student's work and give approximate grade for it (obviously without knowing what you gave). If you have TAs, one of them can do it. In case somebody brings up claims that you are unfarily grading, you have now something to show for your defence. Other possibility is to take blind grading as a policy on your courses, so that you never know who you are grading. But it might be harder to prove that you really did not know who you are grading.

In my opinion, one should disqualify themselves from grading preferably bit too easily than take changes. On the courses I have grading responsibilities, we generally try to assign the grading in such way that if you know a person (outside the role of them being your student), you won't grade their work. If everybody knows the person taking the class, then we try to have two opinions on the work. It does get difficult if you are only person working on the course without TAs.

  • 3
    Worth noting that the power/benefit conflict can go both ways here: besides the direction you mention, the father might favour OP in order to get favourable treatment for the daughter. – PLL Aug 16 at 10:28
  • 1
    I agree, but I can't think easy way for OP to do anything about that (except if he would propose such thing, to clearly decline), and if OP is grading fairly, then the unprofessionality is on the father. – Mer Aug 16 at 10:45

Your Answer

 

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.