ACN - 101321555 Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)
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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

The Ethics of Learning Analytics in Australian Higher Education. A Discussion Paper (The University of Melbourne | March 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on April 11, 2019


This project brought together learning analytics experts from across Australia to explore key ethical issues relating to the development and use of learning analytics in higher education. The result of these discussions was a discussion paper that provides an outline of seven ethical principles as well as practical considerations associated with the use of learning analytics.


The ever-increasing availability of data about student activities in educational environments presents many opportunities for the improvement of learning and teaching through the use of learning analytics. In applying analytics, there is an obligation that educators and institutions ensure that data and analysis techniques are used appropriately. The range of ethical considerations that educational institutions must face is complex, and many institutions are still formulating their approach to ensuring ethical practice in this field.

The objective of this project was to draw together contemporary research and current practice in the area of ethics and learning analytics, and use this to produce a discussion paper that provides guidance to a range of higher education stakeholders including students, educators, researchers, and senior leaders.

Corrin, L., Kennedy, G., French, S., Buckingham Shum S., Kitto, K., Pardo, A., West, D., Mirriahi, N., & Colvin, C. (2019). The Ethics of Learning Analytics in Australian Higher Education. A Discussion Paper.

Portland State University Researchers May Have Violated Federal Law by Using the Personal Data of Thousands of Portland-Area K-12 Students – Williamette Week (Katie Shepherd | March 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on March 13, 2018

It appears to be a remarkable breach of trust.

Plenty of graduate students dislike the research assignments handed to them by professors.

Stories like this highlight there is media interest not only in what we research but also the ethics of our research. For SoTL researchers this emphasizes the need to be careful not to breach the trust of our students and to use care about matters such as privacy and consent. AHRECS was funded by the OLT to produce a few resource booklets about research ethics in SoTL research

Ezra Whitman, a graduate student in the 2017 class at Portland State University, had a different problem with the homework he was given. He said it broke the law.
“I didn’t want to do it, period,” says Whitman. “It didn’t meet research best practices in any aspect. [We were] illegally harvesting data.”
For two years, professors at PSU’s Graduate School of Education conducted a research project using unwitting K-12 students as subjects. The university has since acknowledged it failed to inform parents of the research and did not get their permission to access the student data. University officials say they are still examining whether any laws were broken.


7 Things You Should Know About How Learning Data Impacts Privacy – ELI (Kent Wada, et al | May 2017)0

Posted by Admin in on January 11, 2018

Institutional programs and third-party vendors provide an expanding number of instructional tools and services that generate copious amounts of learning data. These data can be combined and shared to improve learning and increase student success, but these opportunities complicate the privacy landscape. Higher education may need new and perhaps more nuanced practices and policies concerning learning data usage and privacy. Although the answers are far from clear, institutions should initiate discussions and governance conversations if they haven’t already done so—the only real mistake is to do nothing.

The 7 Things You Should Know About… series from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) provides concise information on emerging learning technologies. Each brief focuses on a single technology and describes what it is, where it is going, and why it matters to teaching and learning. Use these briefs for a no-jargon, quick overview of a topic and share them with time-pressed colleagues.

In addition to the 7 Things briefs, you may find other ELI resources useful in addressing teaching, learning, and technology issues at your institution. To learn more, please visit the ELI Resources page.

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Also see
The AHRECS resource booklets for SoTL research

Ethical issues concerning the recruitment of university students as research subjects (Papers: Albert F.G. Leentjens & James L. Levenson | 2013)0

Posted by Admin in on January 9, 2018

To discuss the ethical issues in the recruitment of university students as research subjects.

Narrative review and discussion.

The recruitment and inclusion of students in university research projects raise ethical issues specific to this population. Students may be required or coerced to participate, receive course credits for their participation, and their privacy may be violated. Some ethically questionable procedures are standard practice at some universities, and endorsed by their institutional review boards and faculties. Some changes will not be easy to achieve because this implies a change of organization of research and will affect funding and output.

The authors call for international standards to be set for research with students, that are in line with applicable standards in research with other subjects, such as medically ill patients, on which researchers, members of institutional review boards and editors can base their policies, opinions and decisions.

Ethics; Recruitment; University students

Leentjens, A. F., & Levenson, J. L. (2013). Ethical issues concerning the recruitment of university students as research subjects. Journal of psychosomatic research, 75(4), 394‐398.
Publisher (Open Access):

Also see:
The SoTL research ethics resource booklets produced by AHRECs