All research conducted within the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) must receive approval from the Calgary Board of Education through the application process before the research begins. This includes graduate student research projects conducted as part of a thesis or course requirements as well as proposals from external agencies as follows:
- masters thesis candidates
- doctoral thesis candidates
- university professors on behalf of undergraduate students who are gaining field experience through course work
- CBE employees conducting research as part of course work or graduate degrees
- CBE employees conducting research in CBE schools
- institutionally funded projects or external organizations (e.g., universities, colleges, agencies, hospitals)
Distinguishing Between Research and Professional Development
As responsible professionals, teachers engage in reflective practice to examine their own pedagogical practices in the context of curriculum inquiry and as part of their daily work.
Examining pedagogical practice solely for the purpose of professional development does not constitute "research on human subjects". For details on what does and does not constitute research, refer to Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS 2): Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans.
In addition to articles submitted for publication in journals or books, documents submitted to universities for course requirements are considered public documents.
Public documents that draw from data collected in CBE schools must comply with legal and ethics protocol for the protection of participant confidentiality and anonymity.
Teachers working with other teachers for the purpose of developing curriculum or course materials and curriculum implementation are not "collecting data" intended for public documents.
Analysis of student work between and among teachers that occurs 'in house' and is not intended for the purpose of course work, publication or conference presentations does not require a research application or the approval of an ethics review board.
Ethical Implications for Teacher Practitioner Research
Action research in education is often the chosen method of inquiry for teacher practitioners wishing to investigate their own or their learning community's practice within a classroom, school or district setting.
In practitioner action research, the researcher's position as an insider working with other insiders (Herr & Anderson, 2003) presents unique ethical challenges. A summary of these concerns and suggestions for addressing them can be found in the references listed below.
The researcher's position in relation to the study setting together with strategies for addressing potential concerns (see below) must be clearly outlined in Section 7 of the CBE Application to Conduct Research.
A teacher who wishes to involve her/his own students and/or colleagues as participants in the research study must meet the standards and receive approval following ethics standards for research involving human subjects as stated in Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS 2): Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans.
In particular, the following points require careful consideration:
- Clarity regarding the role and position of the researcher in relation to the study's participants
- Potential conflict of interest, for example, if you are the teacher of students or in a supervisory role of potential participants in your research
- Avoiding the reality and appearance of coercion, however slight, to participate in the study
- Avoiding deception through withholding or misrepresenting information
Herr, K., & Anderson, G. L. (2005). The Action Research Dissertation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
University of Western of Western Ontario (2011). Ethics considerations for teachers' research with students in their own classroom. Available online from: University of Western Ontario