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You’re in cruel England now!: Teaching research ethics through reality TV

Burr, Vivien and King, Nigel (2012) You’re in cruel England now!: Teaching research ethics through reality TV. Psychology Learning and Teaching, 11 (1). pp. 22-29. ISSN 1475-7257

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This paper reports findings from a one-year research project funded by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) Psychology Network. The research aimed to explore the use of ‘reality television’ in teaching research ethics to Psychology undergraduates and in this paper we report on those findings that have particular relevance for qualitative research methods. Experience of teaching research ethics suggests that students can find the process of thinking through ethical issues in qualitative work quite challenging. Ethical issues in qualitative research can be subtly different from, or more complex than, those raised by quantitative studies, and yet most text books that deal with research ethics tend to focus on the latter. We will present findings from our research project which suggest that using familiar material such as TV programmes, and in particular ‘reality TV’, can be effective in helping students address ethical issues in qualitative research. Fifteen second year psychology undergraduates were shown an extract from an episode of Big Brother (Channel 4). They were then asked to discuss in small groups the ethical issues they felt it raised, and these discussions were audio recorded. Subsequently, they were asked to apply their thinking to a research brief by discussing the ethical issues it raised, suggesting ideas for design and then writing a research proposal. In this paper we report findings from the first stage of the project. We present evidence from the discussion groups indicating that the TV material had promoted an in-depth consideration of some ethical issues that can be challenging for students to address in relation to qualitative work, notably informed consent, confidentiality and risk of harm.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences
School of Human and Health Sciences > Centre for Applied Psychological Research
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Depositing User: Graham Stone
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2012 09:56
Last Modified: 21 Aug 2015 07:37


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