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Case 33. Preservation of Confidential Information in Teaching


Case 33:  Preservation of Confidential Information in Teaching
Professor John Jay teaches courses in race and ethnicity and sex and gender. He has found that the material in both courses meets with a fair amount of resistance from some of his students for whom the courses raise issues of a very personal nature. A colleague has suggested that he might use journals as a way of giving students a forum in which they can safely vent their feelings about what they are reading and learning. Professor Jay did this for the first time this last semester. He collected the journals several times during the semester and they did give him some insights into what students were grappling with as they progressed through the course. The students also seemed to appreciate the chance to express themselves. He gave the students grades for the journals that were based more on the effort they represent than on the content. This was as the students expected. Professor Jay also required that the students write term papers for the class. After grades were passed in, he placed both the journals and the papers on the floor outside his office for the students to retrieve. This has always been his practice in returning student work and is that of his colleagues.


  1. Does this practice violate Professor Jay's obligation to protext the confidentiality of the students' journals?
  2. Has Professor Jay any legal obligation with regard to graded student work?

Reflect on the above questions and form your own answers before clicking the Discussion key to review the commentary provided with this case.