Professor and graduate student relationship problem

professor and graduate student relationship problem

An enormous part of the sexuality between students and professors and between a major professor and doctoral or masters candidates is what Freudians call students and to use his academic chair as to solve his sexual problems, he is no . Students have been falling in love with their professors for years. the thesis advisor reciprocates this becomes a problem because they are not on equal footing. How close is the relationship between a PhD student and his/her adviser?. Professor A and Student B, a graduate student in Professor A's department, are involved in a romantic relationship. Because they are involved in a romantic.

Some examples will be given later in this paper. Despite these few recent developments, it is clear that there is still a substantial level of confusion in the academic community about the basis for any such standards.

  • Relationship Restrictions

In general, teachers are given little or no guidance as to how to deal with this issue. The remainder of this paper will attempt to develop a framework for discussion of this issue, based on the considerable literature arising from cases in the health professions and a consideration of what constitutes a productive mentoring relationship.

The fiduciary must act with the utmost good faith and solely for the benefit of the dependent party. All of these professions carry a special trust not to abuse the seen or unseen dependent elements that inevitably develop. Further, such relationships may have the effect of undermining the atmosphere of trust on which the educational process depends. Implicit in the idea of professionalism is the recognition by those in positions of authority that in their relationships with students there is always an element of power.

It is incumbent upon those with authority not to abuse, nor seem to abuse, the power with which they are entrusted…. Other amorous relationships between members of the faculty and students, occurring outside the instructional context, may also lead to difficulties. Relationships between officers and students are always fundamentally asymmetric in nature.

A teacher and student may simply be at the same institution and have no direct relationship. On the other hand, there may be a reasonable potential for a relationship to occur, for example in the case of a department chairman or dean, on whom the student may need to depend at some point. It is in such relationships that the need for both closeness and boundaries are at their greatest. Clinical supervision in the mental health professions carries special needs for appropriate boundaries because of their relative levels of intensity, intimacy, personal disclosure, and isolation2,5 Levinson19 p.

In his role as guide, he welcomes the initiate into a new occupational and social world and acquaints him with its values, customs, resources and cast of characters. As exemplar, he serves as one whom the student can emulate. He may sometimes serve as a counselor in times of stress. This role may be reflected in relatively immediate functions, such as grading, or in more temporally indefinite functions such as the writing of letters of recommendation for advanced training, licensure, or career opportunities.

The first is what Levinson19 p. The mentor represents a combination of parent and peer; he must be both and not purely either one. If he is entirely a peer, he cannot represent the advanced level toward which the younger man is striving. If he is very parental, it is difficult for both of them to overcome the generational difference and move toward the peer relationship that is the ultimate though never fully realized goal of the relationship.

Next is the issue of mutuality,1 and this is probably where the challenge of the mentoring relationship to maintain appropriate boundaries becomes greater than in other professional relationships.

As good teachers, we expect our students to contribute to our own professional growth. We learn from what they read, we want to be challenged by their questions, and we like to see their success as reflecting, at least in part, on our own professional expertise and devotion to them. A part of this mutuality is our social interaction with our students, especially in a close academic environment.

They can enhance working relationships in the training environment. They help acquaint the student with the people and the culture of the profession he or she is planning to enter. They may help contribute to the personal development of the student.

Boundary Issues in Teacher-Student Relationships

And such activities reflect a concern with the development of the whole person, not only a well-educated professional. In this way, our role as teacher is similar to that of a parent or a therapist. In an article outlining the characteristics of a helping relationship, Rogers21 wrote about the importance of warmth, caring, liking, and interest, all of which reflect a degree of closeness to our clients. We must each give up the master without giving up the search p.

The mentoring relationship traditionally has held special problems for women. And when a man becomes interested in guiding and advising a younger woman, there is usually an erotic interest that goes along with it.

What follows from that are many combinations we can easily recognize: The kicker is that the relationship of guide and seeker gets all mixed up with a confusing sexual contract. Almost without exception, the women I studied who did gain recognition in their careers were at some point nurtured by a mentor. When a woman is in the position of power, she, too, holds this responsibility. Conroe and Schank2 suggested a guideline, at least with regard to clinical supervision, emphasizing the importance of finding a balance that suits the situation at hand.

Sexual involvement not only has profound symbolic significance in a relationship, but it is relatively easy to define in operational terms. We may treat students differentially, not because of their academic or clinical qualifications, but because of a personal regard or attraction. Boundaries, therefore, refer to a spectrum of activities that have the potential to exploit the dependency of a student in a number of ways.

Prof/Grad Relationships – Grad Resources

Boundary violations compromise the integrity and effectiveness of the student-teacher relationship. If the professional relationship is an administrative one, the student may lose a potential resource for assistance in areas such as financial aid, career counseling, and so on. A dual relationship can confuse roles for the student, who is no longer sure what the relationship to his or her mentor should be. And eventually, that person is too much like her father for her own developmental good.

The known existence of a sexual relationship and its tacit acceptance by the academic community reduces the tendency to discuss the issue openly, either as an institutional issue, or as an issue in clinical supervision. Finally, one must consider the potential of personal harm to the student, especially if there is a history of poor self-esteem, dependency, or victimization. As with patients who become over-involved with their therapists, the betrayal of trust and sense of loss can sometimes lead to depression and a need for psychiatric care.

First, we need to be aware of risk factors — those things that may lead to a blurring of appropriate boundaries. There are a number of factors that could reflect a psychological vulnerability on the part of the student, such as low self-esteem, a need for authority, a pattern of repeated victimization, or difficulties with a personal relationship. For example, a student may see her teacher as the kind of father she wished she had.

There are risk factors for the teacher as well. As with therapists, we sometimes see a pattern of predatory sexism related to a characterological impairment. Attempts by the student to terminate the disturbing aspects of such a relationship often result in either intimidation or dependent, demanding entreaties on the part of the professional.

Teachers may exhibit their own psychological vulnerabilities, which play out in relationships with their students. There may be times of our lives when we begin to doubt our attractiveness or our effectiveness and feel that we need to test ourselves. Most of us get into the business of helping partly to satisfy our own narcissistic needs. We need to be needed, and that sometimes makes it hard to let go of our charges. We may be experiencing difficulties in our own personal relationships, and it becomes tempting to reach out to a student who, at the very least, respects who we are and what we do.

Even if we do not take such an initiative, we may find it harder to resist the initiative made by a needy or seductive student who hopes that we can fill personal needs that transcend our role as mentors. Finally, there is a set of risk factors that are inherent in the professional or institutional setting itself.

For example, a faculty member experiencing little collegial support from other faculty members, may depend excessively on the loyalty, sympathy and support of a devoted student. We need to be honest with ourselves about whose needs we are meeting, when we invite a student to work with us, when we decide which students we may involve in a special project or in a social engagement, or to whom we tend to disclose certain kinds of personal information.

I dated my university professor – and it was a messy, eye-opening experience

We may sometimes need to see if there are other ways for us to get certain of our own needs met, whether at home, in therapy, or through our colleagues. We also need to treat the challenge of maintaining appropriate student-teacher boundaries as an open issue. This should be done both in the orientation of new faculty members and as a part of the training and supervision of our students.

The maintenance of healthy boundaries is not only something that teachers need to do in their own relationships with students. We need also to prepare our students to monitor boundaries with their own students, patients, and clients. A student needs an advocate and an understanding counselor for the stresses he faces.

Graduate students in particular confront a number of unique pressures, often without any understanding on the part of the faculty. Faculty have personal pressures to publish that cause them to see graduate students as the vehicle for research. Many students are married and have families and their spouses may also be students.

Some grads have part-time employment in low-paying TA programs or off campus jobs. With tuition at many institutions doubling every other year and corresponding increases in books and supplies, the graduate student is hard pressed to make ends meet. The demands of class and seminars, the need to work and spend time with spouse and family rob grad students of precious hours for research to complete their thesis.

My studies suffered so l cut back. Sometimes faculty increase the pressures on students. My advisor is the chairman of the department. I have a fellowship, and he picked me as his advisee. A student in such a position often has no recourse. Despite the lack of constructive relationships in many departments, most grads desire closer contact with faculty. The following comments were made by students who point out the importance of continuing dialogue: A mentor who knows your field well can serve as an apt counselor when it comes to the area of career advisement.

It he is up on his research and he should be and knows you well enough, he should be aware of some potential career choices that would be good for you to consider. Richard; Engineering; Ohio St. My advisor is well-connected in the academic village and when he heard I had in interest in a post-doctorate in Japan, his connections made it happen Aaron; History; U. Fifty-three percent thought that having an instructor whom they could consult on perconal matters was either important or somewhat important.

In several departments at the University of Washington in Seattle, faculty sponsor monthly socials for graduate students in the department. One student described how his department had a gourmet club in which both graduate students and professors could participate. This provided a change of pace from the normal academic activities and allowed student to get to know professors in a different setting.

The insights gained often helped in their working relationships. These people make valuable contributions to our national life as they pursue their various fields. Therefore one result of contentious relationships is a dwindling pool of impassioned, well-rounded graduates to fill the need for leadership and scholarship for our national future. Some grads have told us that they have pulled back from faculty relationships or even changed their career focus because of bad experiences.

The major result of poor relationships is alienation of the student. A low level of communication may foster misunderstanding on the part of a professor or may be perceived by the student as deception. For example, one student told his professor that he was not really ready for his qualifying exams. Go ahead and take them anyway.

You can take them over later if necessary. He never trusted any faculty again.

professor and graduate student relationship problem

The political nature of some departments may create poor atmosphere for dialogue. When the system stymies personal interaction and dialogue about problems, grads tire of what they perceive as a political game of hoops and hurdles in the department.

PhD Student Depression & Anxiety: Dealing With Mental Health Issues During Your PhD

For example, the unrealistic regulations in Yale University for time to complete degree and the intention of enforcing the rule alienated many grads. Without interaction because of an impersonal stance in higher education and pressures that create barriers to dialogue, some graduate students never find a mentor who can give them the needed guidance to obtain a quality education. But students can ameliorate even the most difficult situations.

We would like to offer some guidelines on how to circumvent the problems and open channels of communication. The Solutions No worthwhile project is accomplished overnight.

Do not expect relationships to happen overnight but plan for creating an environment that will facilitate dialogue, or if that is impossible, plan for alternatives that will help you find a mentor. The first step is to create an open, non-threatening environment to cultivate potential relationships. If that is unsuccessful, the second step is to develop an alternative by reaching out to other groups on campus that can serve as encourages.

Third, a sense of personal security will control environmental disabilities that you encounter. Relationships are not changed or built instantly and one must take small steps toward the ideal. Use the wisdom and experience you have gained to help you establish the rapport you need to open dialogue.

Boundary Issues in Teacher-Student Relationships - AdvocateWeb

These suggestions can help you in your progress: First, create an open, non-threatening environment to cultivate potential relationships.

Define expectations in your department. Each one has its own style and personality. Determine how yours functions and how you can best use the atmosphere to open dialogue. If your professors like informal, relaxed interaction, come prepared to stimulate their way of thinking. On the other hand, if your department runs formally, use restraint and courtesy to your advantage.

Get to know the most influential members of your department and understand their preferences. Actively find out what your faculty expect of you. Find out if your committee will back you. Then he protected me, steered me and disallowed one dangerous comment that would have hurt me. One student describes what he did to define expectations: I pulled together my committee to ask them what they required of me to get my Ph. They responded in silence, with no ideas. But after an hour, they had hammered out a path for me to follow.

Understand the pressures faculty face. Do you know what kinds of stresses your advisor faces? Faculty, as well as graduate students, are under many forms of pressure. They, too, operate under all sorts of time constraints. Initiate social or intellectual discussion with the professor on specialty issues.

Begin by asking them questions rather than giving your opinion. In a doctoral program, the more quickly a student becomes socialized into his department, the greater his progress. Having a clear picture of what to expect from your teachers, administrators and advisors will help you find a starting point to begin communication and socialization. Unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment and even to failure. Faculty see students come and go over the years and may not want the kinds of closeness you desire.

Most of all, keep yourself flexible and adapt to departmental quirks and personality differences. Build on faculty perceptions of analytical thinking. A study by Powers and Enright found that certain kinds of thinking skills are more valued in academia: Three of these include: Faculty also agreed upon the most serious reasoning errors and critical incidents. Then implement the most valued reasoning skills to give yourself greater acceptability and distinction. Develop your communication skills.

Strive for good, clear, honest communication with your advisor. As a student, you can initiate dialogue. But achieving and maintaining communication channels means knowing how to open a conversion, when to speak and when to listen, and how to communicate your desires and concerns. To practice active listening, the sender gets tangible feedback from the receiver as to ho v he, the receiver, should decode the message. After hearing the feedback, the sender then either confirms or corrects the message.

Should your advisor correct what you have said, then verbally confirm that correction. Your feedback avoids needless miscommunication and helps you focus your thinking in the right direction.

Active listening also involves using your interaction time wisely.

professor and graduate student relationship problem

When meeting with a professor, be organized. Allow him twenty-four hours to reflect on his response and suggestions. But in almost all cases, it is better to confront than to avoid. Destructive behaviors, such as ordering, threatening, judging or criticizing act as vehicles for communicating unacceptance rather than opening doors for further problem-solving. But confrontation and active listening are important. Many students have found that constructive conflict helps bring problems into the open where they can be dealt with.

One political science grad described his experience this way: My advisor is difficult to get along with because he has low social skills. At one point, l was running ten minutes late to get a stack of exams to his home. An electrical engineering student said: I had developed an eye problem from the stress. He agreed to let up. Using good communication skills will enable you to know your professors better and help them in assisting you.

They have an extensive network they can tap through the academic village. Create an environment for dialogue by expressing your concerns and frustrations, as well as your successes, and listening to theirs. Second, if you find it impossible to develop a mentor relationship with your advisor, reach out to other sources within the academic village.

They feel that the faculty and older students should be the first to approach them. But that can have tragic results. Seek out other faculty members. Faculty members usually will not take the initiative to come to you as many feel they should respect your privacy.

professor and graduate student relationship problem

But when you initiate the relationship, many will respond favorably. They will see that you value their advice and experience. Give up your expectations of having your advisor as your mentor and find another professor who has the time and is amenable to advising you.

One student added this caution: Many campuses have support groups for graduate students. If you have difficulty relating to your advisor or others in your department, search for other groups that can help you. Join these groups and help in working for the kinds of modifications you would like to see. Realize that you are responsible for the generation and implementation of desirable changes.

A group of students with similar concerns can do much. Get involved in your department. Involvement can begin even before going on to the next phase of training. Another grad interviewed faculty in his department to see whether he would get along with his advisor. Have an idea of the type of person you would like to study under. But he treats me like a colleague. Keep involvement high during your years in the department. Many students get so caught up in their own research and dissertation that they fail to see how their work relates to the ongoing accomplishments of the department as a whole.

Visibility will help you build bridges to faculty. Initiate a relationship with a more experienced graduate student. A person who is farther along in his program may have weathered situations similar to those you face, or perhaps both of you are currently confronting the same problems.

Such relationships could prove to be of mutual benefit. Also work within the system to help older grads free themselves to help younger students. Then identify and encourage students willing to perform that role. Keep a realistic view of a worsening situation. A grad needs to be perceptive enough to assess the situation and see when it becomes too difficult to continue. My relationship with my faculty advisor was so poor that this situation prompted me to lay out a year and change advisors.

Now, my relationship with my advisor is great. Knowing when to persevere with contact and when to move on takes thought and planning. Each of these resources can help deepen the feeling of community you realize from quality relationships. They can give you a broader and more complete vision of what you can do in your chosen field.