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Education and Psychology Research Active Network (EPRAN) Seminar 2019/2020

Wednesday 16th October 2019 (1.30-3pm) in Wolfson 1 & 2:

Dr Rebecca Morris (CES)
Ethical challenges when conducting randomised trials with children in education settings

Over the last decade in the UK there has been a substantial increase in the number of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) being carried out in the field of education. This increase has been welcomed by many in the research and policy-making communities; however, RCTS – as with all kinds of research design – present challenges, both for those conducting the research and for those participating. This seminar explores some of the ethical questions and tensions that can arise in experimental study design and implementation, focusing specifically on studies which involve young children and/or those with complex learning needs. The session highlights the breadth of ethical dilemmas that researchers and practitioners face and exemplifies challenges in the following areas:

  • the difficulties of prioritising certain groups of children for recruitment to particular projects
  • the process and outcomes of randomisation
  • the potential ‘side effects’ of participation in RCTs
  • the use of additional assessments for pupils
  • the issue of consent to participate in an intervention and evaluation
  • and, finally, the challenges of using public funding to research projects where the intervention is not ready to be trialled or where schools are not able to follow the evaluation protocols.

It is hoped that the presentation will stimulate further discussion and debate around the use of RCTs in education, and a space to explore some of the ‘real-life’ ethical questions which have emerged through our current projects.