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Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in STEM
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in STEM

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3.2 Dual role as educator and researcher

Participants in SoTL inquiries are frequently the researcher’s own students. This dual role of educator and researcher and the position of authority and power of the educator can raise ethical dilemmas. The following set of principles based on Fedoruk (2019) and Chick (2019) may help to address the ethical dilemmas while being sensitive to the inherent power differential between educator and student:

  • ensuring that students’ decisions to participate in the research (or not) is informed and voluntary by telling them about the purpose, benefits, risks, and consequences of the research before asking for their consent.
  • making sure students have the autonomy to freely and privately choose to participate, and refuse to participate or withdraw from participation at any time during the research without any penalty.
  • communicating to ensure the protection of their information and the integrity of the research project by meeting confidentiality obligations in the research.
  • clarifying in the ethical review processes that due to the dual-role, it may be difficult to maintain full anonymity of the participants and their materials.
  • considering the involvement of a collaborator or consultant in the SoTL inquiry who will collect and keep the informed consent from individual students, and subsequently carry out the empirical research with the students. Third-party involvement may help the students feel comfortable and the educator wouldn’t know who’s agreed to participate or not.
  • keeping the participants informed throughout the research project lifecycle.
  • making the results available, accessible and understandable to all participants upon completion of the project.

Lisa Fedoruk and Kiara Mikita of University of Calgary, Canada have adapted from Faller and Norman (2015) and Fedoruk (2019) to develop a framework of reflective questions as a downloadable template [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] to support the planning and design of ethical SoTL research.