Codes into consideration the values and perspectives of those

 

Codes
of ethics are put in place to ensure professionals and researchers abide by an
ethical code of behavior. These codes establish a common set of values upon
which researchers can build on their work in an ethical manner. According to
The American Educational Research Association (AERA), “The intention of these
ethical codes is to ensure the protection and welfare of individuals and groups
with whom educational researchers work” (AERA, 2011 p.146). Ethical codes set
high standards for researchers and require exemplary conduct when dealing with
students, colleagues, or research participants. By establishing a strategy and
criteria for making ethical decisions, ethical codes also take into
consideration the values and perspectives of those directly involved.
Additionally, they help reduce the number of potential ethically related issues
that may arise, particularly in terms of research practices, confidentiality,
and maintaining integrity.

Prior
to the implementation of ethical codes, professionals turned to law or policies
to guide their decisions, since there was no established criteria for dealing
with complicated ethical situations. This evidently did not work for every
situation, since “HIM professionals cannot wait for the law, policies and
procedures, and other administrative systems to guide their actions because
problems often arise and decisions must be made prior to the ability of these
systems to offer guidance.” (Flite, 2013 par 7). Since 1928, various ethical
codes have been written to establish guidelines for professional behavior. Flite
states that there are now six ethical codes that have been revised and edited
throughout time. While each code has its differences, the main goal is the same.

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The
AERA Code of ethics establishes ethical standards and principles that tie into
the responsibilities of ethical researchers’ responsibilities and conduct.  “Adhering to a set of ethical standards for
an education researcher’s work-related conduct requires a personal commitment
to a lifelong effort to act ethically; to encourage ethical behavior by
students, supervisors, supervisees, employers, employees, and colleagues; and
to consult with others as needed concerning ethical problems” (AERA, 2011 p.146).
The AERA code of ethics places an emphasis on the importance of integrity
amongst researchers and participants. The code encourages an atmosphere where
researchers are fair, honest, and respectful towards others in their setting
and all aspects related to research and practice. Educational researchers
abiding by this code conduct professional activates in ways that demonstrate
consideration and trust.

The AERA
strives to maintain all aspects of ethical behavior, and takes special
consideration when dealing with confidential information. Section 12.01 c of the AERA Code of
ethics states, “Education researchers protect confidential information and do
not allow information gained in confidence to be used in ways that would
unfairly compromise research participants, students, employees, clients, or
others” (AERA, 2011 p. 149).  Researchers ensure that all personal
information is protected and remains private. This practice ensures the
integrity of the research and protects sensitive information obtained during
the study. When considering the potential long-term use of information,
researchers examine its validity and value in public archives or databases.
Before they can utilize or share any information, the AERA requires that
confidentiality agreements are established between researchers and
participants. Agreements are reviewed periodically to ensure they adapt to any
changes in the conditions.
In addition to these guidelines, the AERA has established protocol for the
electronic transmission of confidential information, and has also established
limits and strategies for minimizing intrusions on privacy. “Educational researchers are responsible
for informing themselves about all laws, rules and circumstances that may limit
the guarantee on confidentiality” (AERA, 2011 p.150). Researchers must be able
to determine their ability to withhold information and guarantee
confidentiality. They must also be able to balance confidentiality with the
other principles listed in the AERA Code of Ethics.

When sharing scientific
studies, educators must disguise the identities of all research participants or
other subjects associated with the study. To minimize any intrusion of privacy,
educational researchers must rename their subjects and only provide information
that is essential to the comprehension of the study. “When removal or masking of
personal identifiers is not feasible, education researchers take reasonable
steps to determine that appropriate consent of personally identifiable
individuals has been obtained before they transfer such data to others or
review such data collected by others” (AERA, 2011 p. 150). Whenever feasible,
educational researchers must honor confidentiality agreements. If this not the
case, educational researchers must take steps to ensure all data collected occurs
under restricted conditions and protections are set in place to protect those
involved.

In regards to
electronic transmission and storage of confidential information, educational
researchers must protect all data and communication in storage networks or
other electronic storage solutions. They are trusted to secure any sensitive
information and data that may leak through an unsecure server. The preservation
of confidential data is extremely important to the AERA. Steps to ensure
preservation are established in the Code of Ethics, which acknowledges that
ownership of recorded data and/or other information is governed by laws and
principles. Educational researchers plan so that all confidential records and
related information is secure in the event of a researcher’s death, withdrawal
from the study, or inability to proceed with their position. When it is time to
transfer confidential information, data, or other records, organizations obtain
assurances that the new recipients of this information will establish protocol
that matches the level of measures taken by the AERA to protect
confidentiality. All researchers take a pledge to honor the guidelines set
forth, and to protect the identity and act in the best interest of those
participating in the study. Assuring confidentiality is the first step to
upholding ethical standards.

            As
listed on Principle D in the AERA code of ethics, educational researchers
respect the rights and take care to do no harm in the conduct of their work
(AERA, 2011). These individuals have a unique obligation to protect the welfare
and rights of all participants. Respect includes but is not limited to,
“remaining sensitive to cultural, individual, and role differences in teaching,
studying, and providing service to groups of people with distinctive
characteristics” (AERA, 2011 p. 147). Researchers also strive to eliminate any
bias associated with their participants and have a zero-tolerance policy
regarding discrimination based on gender, race, or sexual orientation. In all work-related
activities, researchers hold values and respect the rights of others whom are
different and treat them ethically. Other forms of respect include the practice
of informed consent. The AERA makes this practice a requirement for educational
researchers. Section 13.02 d states that oral or written language must be used
when communicating the risks and potential benefits of the study. Utilizing
informed consent ensures that all participants are willing and comfortable to proceed
(AERA, 2011).

            In
regards to a more localize ethical code, I would like to shift focus towards
the Florida Department of Education’s Principles of Professional Conduct for
the Education Profession in Florida. I will analyze this code through the same
three lenses mentioned above. The state of Florida places a strong emphasis on
the importance on integrity. Per section 6A-10.081 (a), “The educator values
the worth and dignity of every person, the pursuit of truth, devotion to
excellence, acquisition of knowledge, and the nurture of democratic
citizenship. Essential to the achievement of these standards are the freedom to
learn and to teach and the guarantee of equal opportunity for all” (FDOE, 2016
p. 1). It is evident that the FDOE values inclusivity when dealing with
students from different religions and cultural backgrounds.

            The
FDOE strives to demonstrate respect for all students and feels they are
entitled to their own rights. One of their main principles states that, “No one
should intentionally expose a student to unnecessary embarrassment or
disparagement… also shall not intentionally violate or deny a student’s legal
rights” (FDOE, 2016 p.1). Harassment and discrimination are also against the
established policy. This ensures that students feel safe and comfortable in any
given school related environment. Educators must respect all personal views
despite how strongly they may feel against them. Creating an open and inclusive
environment will ensure that students’ personal and educational needs are being
met. The FDOE also ensures that students are also protected from being
exploited for one’s personal advantage. The policies and principles outlined by
the FDOE ensures that students are treated with respect and are allowed their
rights (FDOE, 2016).

            Confidentiality
is another key principle of the FDOE’s Principles of Professionalism. Educators
must keep private any personally identifiable information obtained during their
course of service. Establishing confidentiality ensures the protection of the student
and prevents any possible ethical issues that may arise from said knowledge.
There is one exception to this principle, which states that if disclosure is
required by law then it must be shared. The law may require personal
information for the benefit of the student on to protect them from possible
harm. It is also the responsibility of the educator to protect children from
any conditions harmful to the learning environment and/or to the student’s
mental or physical health.

 

It is evident that in terms of ethical
practices, there are certain universal principles that are practiced by all
educators. The same sentiments listed on the AERA’s site are also resonate
within the FDOE Principles of Professionalism. Research, Confidentiality,
Integrity, are three principles emphasized in both codes of ethics, and are
implemented to ensure that proper ethical procedure is being followed. The more
we practice these principles, the better researchers and ethical leaders we
become. 

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