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  • Term Mode
  • Semester 2Online Unscheduled



Unit rationale, description and aim

In addition to constructing a research problem and developing a research design, education researchers must be attentive to the ethical issues involved in research.

In this unit education researchers will examine ethical issues that arise when designing and conducting research by exploring the question: In what ways is ethics important for education researchers? By supporting your moral sensitives related to research and considering issues of applied ethics in educational contexts, students will learn principles, values and conduct relevant to the moral situations that arise in educational research. Additional considerations such as the practical matters of research regulatory contexts and guidelines and research ethics approval processes will also be addressed.

Extending on ideas of professionalism, the aim of this unit is to support the development of the ethical responsibilities associated with being an educational researcher by integrating ideas of educational research with theoretical and conceptual knowledge relevant to ethics and in so doing support the researcher as a sophisticated moral thinker and education researcher capable of conducting projects that meet the highest standards of integrity, ethics, and compliance in education research.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Critically analyse the ethical dimensions of education and education research (APST 7.1, 7.2)GC1, GC2, GC3, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11
LO2Reflect on ethical issues and dilemmas encountered by education researchers when designing and conducting educational research (APST 7.1, 7.4)GC1, GC2, GC3, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11
LO3Interpret the regulatory landscape of education research, including the ethical standards outlined in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (APST 7.2)GC1, GC2, GC3, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11
LO4Generate a view of moral issues pertaining to their own education research (APST 7.1)GC1, GC2, GC3, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11


On successful completion of this unit, students should have gained evidence towards the following standards:

7.1 Meet professional ethics and responsibilities

Model exemplary ethical behaviour and exercise informed judgements in all professional dealings with students, colleagues and the community. 

7.2 Comply with legislative, administrative and organisational requirements

Initiate, develop and implement relevant policies and processes to support colleagues’ compliance with and understanding of existing and new legislative, administrative, organizational and professional responsibilities.

7.4 Engage with professional teaching networks and broader communities

Take a leadership role in professional and community networks and support the involvement of colleagues in external learning opportunities.


Topics will include:

Module 1. Introduction to educational ethics

  • Introduction to educational ethics
  • History of ethical thought
  • Applied ethics in educational contexts


Module 2.  The researcher as a moral agent

  • The researcher as a moral agent
  • The role of the education researcher
  • Moral sensitives as applied to education research contexts
  • Power dynamics and positionality in conducting education research


Module 3. Ethical case studies

  • Identifying ethical issues in a research project
  • Case studies exemplifying ethical issues in education and education research


Module 4. Regulatory contexts

  • Regulatory contexts of education research
  • Detailing the ethics application process
  • Issues related to the of professional and legal responsibilities of education researchers outlined in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research such as consent, data management, vulnerable participants, and risk

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is based on the principles of adult andragogy and experiential learning which positions adult learners with responsibility for their own learning engaging with content that is enquiry-based, learner-focused and student centred. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, online discussion, webinars, case studies podcasts, workshops, self-directed learning tasks and assignments. At times the unit content will consider controversial subjects or topics. While students are not required to agree with the viewpoints shared by others, it is expected that an approach based on respect and academic inquiry of varying perspectives will be used.

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total.

Mode of delivery: This unit will be offered in one or more of modes of delivery described below, chosen with the aim of providing flexible delivery of academic content.

  • On Campus: Most learning activities or classes are delivered at a scheduled time, on campus, to enable in-person interactions. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.
  • Intensive: In an intensive mode, students require face-to-face attendance on weekends or any block of time determined by the school. Students will have face-to-face interactions with lecturer(s) to further their achievement of the learning outcomes. This unit is structured with required upfront preparation before workshops. The online learning platforms used in this unit provide multiple forms of preparatory and practice opportunities for you students to prepare and revise. 
  • Multi-mode: Learning activities are delivered through a planned mix of online and in-person classes, which may include full-day sessions and/or placements, to enable interaction. Activities that require attendance will appear in a student’s timetable.
  • Online unscheduled: Learning activities are accessible anytime, anywhere. These units are normally delivered fully online and will not appear in a student’s timetable. 
  • Online scheduled: All learning activities are held online, at scheduled times, and will require some attendance to enable online interaction. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed for students to demonstrate achievement of each of the learning outcomes. In addition, the tasks represent an opportunity to align with the needs of students and their professional and research contexts. An emphasis on close readings of texts and case studies will support the praxis-based approach taken in this unit. Assessment one is based on the use of case studies to explore situations that might unfold in a classroom or educational research situation. This assessment will provide an opportunity to apply ethical frameworks to real-life situations in ways that address the complexity that educational researchers can encounter. Assessment two will focus on answering the guiding questions from the student's perspective, using the key ideas from the readings to explore and critical apprise issues. The goal of this activity is to help students thoroughly understand the unit content and focus on meaningful consideration of ethical issues researcher will encounter on the design and conduct of a project.

In order to pass this unit, students are required to demonstrate achievement of the unit learning outcomes by submitting all assessment tasks, obtaining a combined final mark of at least 50 per cent, and receiving a passing grade on Assessment Task 1 and 2.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1

Case Study: Analytical discussion of contemporary ethical issues presented in an education case study.


LO1, LO2

Assessment Task 2

Written Task: Discussion of ethical principles when conducting education research.


LO3, LO4

Representative texts and references

Brandenburg, R., & McDonough, S. (Eds). (2019). Ethics, self-study research methodology and teacher education. Springer Singapore.

Brooks, R., Te Riele, K., & Maguire, M. (2016). Ethics and education research. SAGE.

Busher, H., & Fox, A. (Eds). (2019). Implementing ethics in educational ethnography: regulation and practice. Routledge.

Higgins, M., & Kim, E.-J. A. (2019). De/colonizing methodologies in science education: rebraiding research theory–practice–ethics with Indigenous theories and theorists. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 14(1), 111–127.

Mejlgaard, N., Bouter, L. M., Gaskell, G., Kavouras, P., Allum, N., Bendtsen, A.-K., Charitidis, C. A., et al (2020). Research integrity: nine ways to move from talk to walk. Nature (London), 586(7829), 358–360. doi:

Midgley, W., Davies, A., Oliver, M. E., & Danaher, P. A. (2014). Echoes ethics and issues of voice in education research. SensePublishers.

Pring, R. (2015). Philosophy of education research. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Rankin, J. (2018). Research ethics in education. SAGE Publications Ltd.

Ferri, F., Dwyer, N., Raicevich, S., Grifoni, P., Altiok, H., Andersen, H. T., Laouris, Y., & Silvestri, C. (2018). Responsible research and innovation actions in science education, gender and ethics cases and experiences. Springer International Publishing.

Sheehy, K. (2013). Ethics and research in inclusive education: values into practice. Routledge.

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