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

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4 Planning ethical considerations in SoTL inquiry

These questions may help guide thinking about the ethical considerations in your SoTL inquiry.

  • Who will be involved in my SoTL inquiry? Whose consent, involvement or collaboration will be required for conducting the project?
  • What is the nature of student involvement? If students are involved as co-investigators or co-researchers, are they aware/trained of the ethical issues?
  • How ‘informed’ is student permission or consent if I don’t know exactly in what forms and contexts the results of the SoTL inquiry will eventually be shared?
  • What power relationships need to be taken into account in negotiating permissions, and involvement by various participants in your project? How can these permissions be negotiated and renegotiated over time?
  • Does my institution have an ethics committee? Is there a separate department or committee that provides guidance about and approves student participation? Is there an institutional code of policy for researchers? Are there any specific ethical guidelines for SoTL projects? Are there ethical policies for using learning analytics in SoTL projects? What are the data management processes and guidelines in my institution?
  • How long do the various approvals take? Will I have the approvals in time to begin data collection as planned?
  • What will happen to the project data during and after the SoTL inquiry? Who will need access to the data? Can the data be anonymised or pseudonymised?
  • How can contributions by various participants (including both colleagues and students) be acknowledged and/or cited, while maintaining appropriate confidentiality?
  • Who can I talk to about the ethical considerations? How can I set up meetings for discussion and reflection about them? Mentor(s) and colleagues who have previous experience with SoTL projects may be able to help.

You will consider the institutional processes and committees that you would need to liaise with for ethical approvals for your SoTL research in the next section.