Ethics in Education Research; A Qualitative Study of the effect of technology on classroom practice and student outcome
A good researcher ensures all ethical issues identified in a study are addressed. There are several reasons for the above including the fact that a researcher avoids litigation as a result of an infringement of participant’s rights. Some of the participants’ rights include the right to information, informed consent, and confidentiality. A researcher is expected to observe ethical issues in research which also helps him or her to realize the research objectives.
Ethics in research is influenced by the age of the participants. Therefore, educational research involving students’ entails processes such as seeking the consent of parents and guardians. Therefore, a researcher should ensure that parents or guardians understand the objectives of the study and the risks that students are exposed to while participating in the study. As such, they can give permission for students to participate in the study.
Ethical Issues in the Proposed Study
Risk Exposure to Participants Research
The researcher conducted an in-depth analysis of the risk associated with the study. The researcher determined the risk associated with the study based on the requirements of participation in the study. The participants were not expected to ingest any substances or alter any part of their daily activities in participating in the study (National Health and Medical Research Council 2014). This would result in physical, emotional, or psychological harm.
The researcher ensured that all participants understood the objectives of the study before making the decision to participate in the study. This involved provision of adequate information to all potential participants. The researcher used an information sheet that captured all information associated with the study.
A researcher should seek informed consent from all potential participants in the study. A participant can refuse to participate in a study without giving any reason or justification (National Health and Medical Research Council 2014). Moreover, the researcher should not pursue any individual who refuses to participate using various forms of inducement or threats.
The participants in the proposed study include teachers and students. Therefore, informed consent from both sets of participants should be sought. Teachers are adults and can give express authority or consent on participation. However, students are not in a position to give informed consent. This is related to the fact that such students have not attained a legal age at which they can enter into legally binding contracts (Fisher 2012).
The Principal is obliged to make arrangements to ensure that students get informed consent from parents and guardians. Moreover, the principal should determine whether the consent should be oral or in written form. An advantage of the written consent is that it can be used for future reference in cases where controversies on participation arise.
Confidentiality affected the study in several ways. First, teachers were expected to observe each other in class while teaching mathematics. Therefore, all data collected during observation should be used for data analysis only. It was imperative that teachers understood the importance of confidentiality and thus ensure that they do not disseminate information gathered during observation to third parties.
Confidentiality also affects data integrity. In the study, an analysis of data related to performance in mathematics in the school and neighboring schools was carried out. Researchers entrusted with accessing such data should understand confidentiality and thus ensure that such data is used for the study only. Cases, where third parties have access to the data, can lead to litigation due to violation of agreements that the school has with neighboring schools regarding the use and access of the data (Sprigg 2010).
Solutions to the Ethical Issues in the Study
The Principal addressed all ethical issues in the study. The Principal addressed the issue of informed consent based on the category of participants. First, he approached all teachers and informed them of the proposed study. In order to convince all teachers to participate, the Principal illustrated all benefits of the study to the teachers and school. As such, all teachers willing to participate in the study were asked to sign the consent form.
Second, the Principal informed all concerned parents and guardians about the study. Similarly, he ensured that he gave a clear illustration of the benefits of the study to the school and students. Also, the Principal outlined any potential risks that are associated with the study. This was a low-risk study where no risks were identified. All the above information was captured in the information sheet offered to the parents. A consent form was later offered to the parents who gave permission for their children to participate in the study.
The Principal ensured that all participants understood the importance of confidentiality. The researcher clearly outlined methods through which he would maintain confidentiality in the study. All participants needed to understand the consequences of breach of confidentiality. This includes any legal liability that they would assume in cases of breach of confidentiality and its relationship to the researcher’s liability.
The Principal outlined methods through which he would maintain the confidentiality of data shared by neighboring schools. As such, the schools entered into a legally binding agreement where consequences of breach of confidentiality were clearly outlined. The Principal gave each of the participants a copy of the agreement so that they would understand the legal liability associated with such incidences.
The Principal also ensured that none of the teachers was coerced into participating in the study. Therefore, teachers were at liberty to refuse to participate in the study. Moreover, the Principal stressed that all teachers should respect each others’ decisions either to participate on not to participate in the study.
In the study, the Principal observed all the ethical issues involved which ensured that the study realized its objectives. Moreover, the study was carried out in the stipulated time period thus economical on time and money. By carrying out the study in a short time, it ensured the classroom activities and the school calendar was not interrupted. As such, all activities as stipulated under the school calendar were carried out.
Fisher , P 2012, Ethics in Qualitative Research: 'Vulnerability', Citizenship and Human Rights, Ethics & Social Welfare, vol. 6, no.1, pp 2-16
National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Research Council, Australian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee 2014, National Statement on Ethical conduct in Human Research , viewed 23 April 2014 <http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/publications/synopses/_files/e72.pdf >
Spriggs, M 2010, Ethical difficulties with consent in research involving children: Findings from key informant interviews. AJOB Primary Research, vol 1 , no.1 , pp 2-13