4.2 Where to look for help
If you are facing ethical dilemmas when planning your SoTL inquiry, it will be helpful to reach out to your mentor(s) and other colleagues (Chick, 2019), or your institution’s Research Ethics Committee. They will ask critical questions about the research design, offer perspectives about how students might feel and the possible issues that may come up in the ethical approval process.
The Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning at the University of Calgary, Canada, has published a guide on ethical issues in SoTL (Fedoruk, 2019). An overview of the ethical considerations involved in doing research on one’s own students (dual-role researchers) is contained in a document by Mount Royal University, Human Research Ethics Board (MRU-HREB, 2012). The University of Cincinnati has a guide for SoTL researchers on its SoTL research process website [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . The Australian SoTL Human Research Ethics Manual in the form of six booklets is available from AHRECS (2016). While these resources are intended for SoTL researchers in Australia, Canada and US, the overarching principles are helpful in all SoTL research. The Research Ethics Board User Guide on SoTL Research of Dalhousie University is another resource suggested by Schnurr and Taylor (2019).
You may like to check if your institution has a policy for using learning analytics and how it would influence SoTL projects. These policy documents at other institutions may be helpful to look at: Learning Analytics Policy at University of Edinburgh, UK, Ethical use of Student Data for Learning Analytics at The Open University (UK) and the Learning Analytics Policy at University of West London.
It is quite possible that your discipline and institution uses somewhat different terminology of ethics and codes of ethical practice. Finally, talk to colleagues in your institution’s Research Ethics Committee about the institutional principles and expectations for ethical research.
Activity 6 Ethical aspects in a SoTL inquiry
Think about the various ethical considerations of SoTL that you have encountered in this session.
- For the SoTL inquiry that you are designing to conduct in the near future, write a list of ethical aspects that will be important for your SoTL inquiry.
- If you are not currently planning to conduct a SoTL inquiry, list some of the ethical considerations that have most shaped your understanding about ethics in SoTL after studying this session.