Historical Roots of Ethical Conduct in Research and Applications to Action Research



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Historical Roots of Ethical Conduct in Research and Applications to Action Research

By
Monique Bournot-Trites

And

Joe Belanger


Language and Literacy Education

University of British Columbia


Based on a PowerPoint presentation at the Faculty Research Day, St. John’s College, University of British Columbia, June 11, 2004


Abstract
Teachers who conduct research in their own classrooms encounter ethical dilemmas in common with external researchers, but they also face challenges unique to action researchers. Free and informed consent to participate in research—the first principle of the Nuremberg Code—is a major obstacle for teachers who exercise control over students in the natural course of their duties. The potential for coercion—real or imagined--exists if a person in the position to mete out rewards and punishments asks potential subjects (and their parents) for a favor. For some types of teacher research, this problem can be alleviated by having a third party manage the consent forms and data collection.

Teacher-researchers are also required to solve ethical problems which they have in common with external researchers: fair treatment of students’ written work (students’ copyright; anonymity vs. acknowledgement of accomplishments; revising usage errors), protecting subjects’ interests (disclosure; presenting “bad news”; audio or visual recordings of classrooms), and equitable treatment of subjects (.

These ethical considerations generally extend the principles laid out in such documents as the Nuremberg Code, the Belmont Report, and the Tri-Council Policy Statement. The most egregious ethical violations have occurred in medical studies, one of which was published in the current millennium.





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