Researching in schools: Ethical issues
Common Ground Publishing
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Education / Fogarty Learning Centre
Genuine contributions to a field of knowledge usually require a methodical and considered approach to research, but strict control of variables is not possible in most educational settings. Teachers and researchers must work within a data-gathering framework that allows for the realities of schools and classrooms. This paper examines a number of ethical issues that arise when researching in schools–when the “pursuit of knowledge” comes into conflict with ethical practice in schools. This can be the result of differing expectations of teachers and researchers regarding the purpose of the research; of conflicts that arise when the time commitment to the research process begins to affect planning and teaching time; or when control of variables conflicts with the need to change pedagogical practices based on student need, and the classroom as a “research site” begins to take precedence over the classroom as a place of learning. Drawing on experiences from a number of research studies across multiple school sites, this paper concludes with a number of recommendations aimed at ensuring that the best interests of students and teachers always direct the progress of research.