Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


School of Communication

First Advisor

John F. Hooker

Second Advisor

Cheri J. Simonds


Instructor flexibility, specifically in cases that contradict one’s syllabus policy, has received scant attention in communication scholarship. This study sought to understand why instructors grant or deny student requests, the ethical perspectives that instructors use when making their decisions, and the role of student engagement in those decisions. Through a thematic analysis of instructor answers to an open-ended survey, results indicated that flexible instructors consider student behavior and engagement, emphasis on learning, supporting student success, and concern for the student’s situation when granting a student request that defies a syllabus policy. Inflexible instructors reported adhering to classroom policy and promote student equality through fairness, consistency, and not considering student characteristics when making their decision. Instructors noted they consider other factors such as extenuating circumstances, communication habits, assignment details, and equality when granting student requests. Finally, evidence of all five ethical perspectives—political, human nature, dialogical, situational, and utilitarianism—were found as lenses that instructors used to grant or deny student requests that break instructor policy.


Imported from Thedorf_ilstu_0092N_12198.pdf


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