Two key ethical principles of research in the secondary school classroom are voluntary participation and informed consent. Voluntary participation is the principle that participants should be able to freely choose whether or not they participate in the research, in any way, big or small (Mutch, 2005). Informed consent is the principle that the participants should be thoroughly and accurately informed of the purpose, processes and dissemination of the findings of the research, and give their consent accordingly (Mutch, 2005). Ethical principles have been established by research institutions, such as universities, to ensure that participants in educational research are not treated as passive objects by the researcher (Snook, 2003), and so that no personal harm results from the research process. This article will discuss these two ethical principles, and examine two research scenarios in secondary schools where ethical dilemmas arise. Potential ways to address these ethical concerns and minimise risk are explored, with a view to encouraging teacher reflection and consideration of research situations that may require the voluntary participation and informed consent of secondary school students in classrooms.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.