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102097 Ethical Scenarios
Transcript of 102097 Ethical Scenarios
Consider the ethical implications for
the following 5 scenarios...
If you want to record group conversations in class to understand how students think about mathematical problems, does it matter if the students know they are being recorded?
If I am just explaining the benefits of a study, is there any harm in gently persuading a person to participate?
The researcher mentions the high school that was studied, but not the students’ specific names. Could there be any problems with discussing your research site? Why or why not?
What are potential concerns for this conversation if it keeps going?
Are there any ethical concerns regarding a rationale for your research project? As long as you have an interesting topic and poses minimal risk to your participants, what’s the problem?
Read the following three scenarios. For each scenario, write a few sentences explaining potential ethics concerns for the scenario, linking your answer back to the
key ethics principles
discussed in this presentation. Briefly discuss
how you would navigate the concerns
The answers to these scenarios need to be submitted in the week 2 lecture task link, along with the literature search task to be counted as 'attended' for week 2.
You want to understand the implicit racist practices that occur within a school. However, asking or surveying people directly about their views of race may reveal misleading data, as many people would never label themselves as being racist. Should you pursue the study? How could you pursue it?
You are in a team of 6 history teachers who all agree to participate in your research project investigating growth in student achievement from pre- to post-test after teaching the same project-based teaching unit. Your data analysis found that 5 of the 6 teachers, including yourself, have classes with significantly improved scores while the other teacher’s class did not show improvement. The teacher with no improvement is now upset, questions your study, and does not want you to present the results at a teachers’ conference. What do you do?
You want to study the impact of a place-based learning project on students’ motivation to learn science. You plan to take students to a nearby pond for an ecology project. You get approval for your study, and your principal supports the project. However, in the process of getting consent, you find that there are several parents who do not want their children walking around in the bush. Now you have a situation in which most students will attend, but a few will not. Does this present ethical concerns? How would you proceed?
In this scenario, one person discovers that her friend or colleague has been secretly recording their conversation to use for later analysis and research purposes. While I acknowledge that this scenario is unlikely to happen, it hits upon a fundamental principle of research ethics; every human has the right to provide
. She must be fully informed about the purpose of the research project, what data will be collected and how it will be used. She should not be in a situation in which information was collected without her knowledge. She not only has the right to decline participation, but also can remove herself from the project at any time. Depending on the context, adults of 16, 17, or 18 and older decide for themselves about participation, whereas researching with minors requires parental consent.
In this scenario, a teacher is informing the class about a research project she wants to pursue (reminder – this would require parental consent). One student says he is not interested. At this point, the teacher does not demand participation, but tries to persuade the student by discussing the potential benefits of being involved. This type of action is considered unethical, as it still violates the principle of
. More to the point, every individual has the right to make a decision about participation
without any coercion from the researchers
. When you are excited about your research project, and want participants in order to move it along, it can be easy to subconsciously point out all of the benefits and therefore be more persuasive than you originally intended. One way this is often handled is to have a person not affiliated with the research project inform and ask potential subjects if they want to participate. In addition, one must also consider power relationships. Imagine asking people who work for you to participate in a research project – it is possible that your supervisory role would influence them to agree.
In this scenario, we learn that research on students from a particular high school was publicized on a website. The parents gave consent, but they did not realise that the results would be identified with the particular high school and community when published. This ethical consideration relates to
. In most examples of human subjects research, the participants agree to engage with the understanding that their specific names will not be associated with any of the data once it is published. However, concerns of privacy extend past the individual. Parents or a school may agree to participate in a research project but not want the findings to be linked back to them when publishing. The researcher’s intent in this case must be clear and agreed upon during the informed consent process. Often, you will see researchers refer to more generic descriptions, for example “at a rural school in Queensland, Australia” rather than “Renwald High School.”
In Scenario #4, we see a case in which a researcher is asking a student how she feels about going to school. The student is expressing many difficulties and eventually states that she is depressed. While this finding may be helpful for the research community to understand, there is also an ethical concern. Being an educational researcher is not the same thing as being a school psychologist, and the discussion in this scenario could lead more to a counselling situation than what the researcher originally intended. A key principle of ‘human subjects’ research is to
account for potential harm, and make efforts to minimise it
. Asking students to discuss negative feelings may cause undue harm. Therefore, it is important to provide explicit safeguards. In this example, an ethics committee may ask you to list steps for dealing with such a scenario. This might include stopping the interview and seeing the school psychologist to assess if this type of questioning is appropriate for the particular student.
In this scenario, we learn that a researcher wants to investigate teachers’ views about astrology. While this seems harmless enough, one has to consider why she is engaging in the project. She says that the topic is interesting and that she has access to a teachers’ listserv, but makes no mention of why this is a worthwhile project for the broader profession. A fundamental ethics consideration is the need to articulate
of the study to your participants or your field of study. This is a requirement by all ethics review committees. Benefits must be broader than satisfying a personal interest. By not having a clear rationale, you are taking up people’s time with a study that potentially has no value with regard to contributing useful knowledge to the profession. Wasting people’s time with research that has little potential to contribute new knowledge is largely considered unethical.