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

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3.3 Making SoTL results public

Making SoTL results public is one of the key principles of SoTL. As with other research involving human participants, it is vital to disseminate the results of the SoTL project in ways that protect the identity of your students and other participants. It may be worth considering how students and their work will be presented (Chick, 2019): does it reflect their mistakes, misconceptions or poor work; might it be embarrassing for them?

Another set of ethical dilemmas relates to whether the results could adversely affect the reputation of the module, programme, your department and the institution. Are there any political concerns that may affect your or your department’s standing?

When reporting the findings of your SoTL inquiry, it’s important to find space in your presentations/papers to discuss the management of ethical considerations. This adds credibility to your project and helps other SoTL researchers to learn from the challenges you faced and the decisions you took. Therefore, as a minimum, include a discussion on:

  • how participants were recruited
  • how informed consent was gained
  • how confidentiality and participant autonomy was ensured
  • how power relations were addressed.

Transparency in research ethics is paramount in recruitment of participants and in dissemination. Where the research involves new and innovative methodologies which raise distinctive considerations (e.g. online research, or remote research), a full, accurate and open disclosure is especially important.

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Figure 3 Mark Jones, Ann Walshe and Anne-Marie Gallen of the Faculty of STEM, The Open University (OU), UK won the Highly Commended Prize in the category ‘Enhancing the student experience’ for their SoTL project, Perceptions, Expectations and Experience of Group Tuition: towards a shared understanding amongst stakeholders [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , at the 7th annual conference of eSTEeM organised by eSTEeM, Centre for STEM pedagogy at the OU.