The Purdy Crawford Teaching Centre (PCTC) and the Research Ethics Board (REB) provide the following guidance concerning the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) research that faculty may be considering in the classroom.
Both the PCTC and the REB actively encourage and support SoTL research as an important part of scholarly work.
All research activities involving human subjects or participants, including SoTL research where information of any type is gathered from students in your classes for research purposes, must undergo REB review using the usual processes and forms. When in doubt about whether or not a potential research activity requires REB review, it is better to contact the Office of Research Services or the Chair of the REB at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 2618 for advice and guidance.
Ethics in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, by Lisa Fedoruk, University of Calgary, provides a detailed and extremely useful precis of the key items faculty members should consider when planning a SoTL research activity involving student information or data.
The following points further clarify and assist you in thinking about your SoTL research:
- In the past, it was advised that a blanket statement on your course syllabi advising students that their course materials may be used as part of research was sufficient. However, as our collective understanding of research ethics evolves, it is clear that this statement alone is insufficient to obtain consent from students to use their course work for research purposes, including that related to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.
- Obtaining consent from research participants (students) is a deliberate and educative process, which informs them about the specific purpose of the research project and their participation, provides them with an explicit option to agree or not agree to participate, and models for them ethical research practices.
- Consent must be documented (in writing or by other means).
- Obtaining consent is an ongoing process — as new projects or research activities are undertaken in the classroom for your research purposes, consent must be obtained in each case.
At a jointly sponsored workshop on May 4, 2011, issues concerning research ethics and SoTL research were discussed and debated. The key points from that session are available here.