Return to: University Policies and Code of Conduct
All Walden University students are expected to remain in good academic standing throughout their studies in accordance with university requirements. However, there are situations in which students may be in satisfactory academic standing but exhibit behaviors that bring question upon their capacity as professionals.
Student Professional Competence Policy
There are a number of professional skills and characteristics that are important for those who provide services to children, adolescents, and adults, as well as to professional organizations, in a variety of settings. These interpersonal/professional skills include, but are not limited to, adherence to ethical standards published by professional organizations, professional deportment, sensitivity to client issues, and appropriate use of supervision. Situations can arise in which instructors, students, or other professionals observe behaviors by other students that demonstrate a lack of appropriate interpersonal or professional skills. The purpose of this policy is to provide a set of procedures that will be used by Walden instructors to address such issues.
For the purposes of this procedure, a distinction is made between different types of behaviors that impede a student’s development. These include (1) problem behaviors, (2) inappropriate/unprofessional conduct, and (3) critical behaviors.
- Problem Behaviors. Problem behaviors occur when a student’s attitude and/or behavior is of concern and requires remediation but is not unexpected for professionals in training. These types of behaviors include, but are not limited to, performance anxiety, discomfort with clients of diverse ethnic backgrounds, and lack of appreciation for agency rules and expectations. These types of behaviors can typically be remediated with feedback and further training and supervision, do not result in the potential for physical and/or emotional harm to others, are limited in duration and will likely not develop into an inappropriate/unprofessional conduct situation.
- Inappropriate/Unprofessional Conduct. Inappropriate/unprofessional conduct is defined broadly as an interference in professional functioning that is reflected in one or more of the following ways:
- An inability and/or unwillingness to acquire and integrate professional standards into one’s repertoire of professional behavior
- An inability to acquire professional skills in order to reach an acceptable level of competency
- An inability to control personal stress and/or excessive emotional reactions that interfere with professional functioning
Problems typically become identified as inappropriate/unprofessional conduct when they include one or more of the following characteristics:
- The student fails to acknowledge, understand, or address the problem when it is identified, resulting in further manifestations signifying a more pervasive problem.
- The problem is not merely a reflection of a skill deficit that can be remediated by academic or didactic training. In this case, a group of professional experts (instructors) determines that the deficit is likely not correctable.
- The quality of services delivered by the student is sufficiently negatively affected.
- The problem negatively affects other students’ learning.
- A disproportionate amount of attention and intervention by training personnel/instructors is required to remediate the problem.
- The student’s behavior does not change as a function of feedback, remediation efforts, and/or time.
- Critical Behaviors. While these behaviors can occur in the online learning environment, they are most likely to manifest during face-to-face meetings (e.g., residencies and meetings associated with coursework). Critical behaviors put, or have the potential to put, students or instructors and staff (including oneself) at risk for physical harm or serious emotional distress. These types of behaviors include, but are not limited to, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, carrying a weapon, sexual or other types of harassment, suicide ideation, verbal abuse, exhibiting psychological problems (e.g., those associated with such things as psychosis or mania), threats of harm, intimidation, and abusive or threatening postings. These behaviors may result in legal, law enforcement, medical, and/or mental health interventions. The procedures for addressing these behaviors are covered under the Review Process for Code of Conduct Violations section of the Code of Conduct in this Walden University Student Handbook.