What are some ethical issues to avoid?


Situation: The survey I need students to complete is time consuming and it has no direct impact on their learning

The problem? When measuring risks and benefits, there is no benefit to the student

Solution? Provide a benefit, e.g. Psychology gives 0.5% grade for participation, a coffee shop card, cash, etc.

Situation: The instructor invites students to complete a short survey on their attitudes to the teaching methods used in class

The problem? Students may perceive a link between participation in research on their teacher's attitude towards them and, logically for some, their grade

Solution? Use a third party and or collect data after end of the course

Situation: The instructor wants to use a new method and compare it with results from previous iteration of the course

The problem? Accessing data that was collected for course purposes then using it for another purpose. The data cannot be repurposed with the informed consent of those students

Solution? Contact students for consent. Access publicly available data – in this case OIPA has the anonymized data

Situation: The instructor requests students to complete a data collection tool such as a survey, later compare grades with responses

The problem? The instructor knows the students and is able to identify which students made which responses

Solution? Gather the data using third party, use a grid to allocate a code to each student number, this is kept apart from the data and is only accessed by the third party. Alternatively, do not look at the data until after the semester is completed.

Situation: Class is divided into two, one half has the intervention, the other half acts as a control group

The problem? It is assumed that the intervention will improve learning one half of the class is deliberately disadvantaged by the study. If the hypothesis is not upheld still one half will have been disadvantaged.

Solution? Design the study such that both groups experience the intervention at different times, for example with a cross-over design

Situation: Teacher collects consent form from students

The problem? Teacher bias upon knowing who provided consent to participate

Solution? Have a colleague or research assistant collect informed consent, and/or ask students to seal consent form in envelope. Ask all students to return consent form so no there is no opting in or out of the study remains completely confidential.