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 Capacity building resources

Ethics and Teacher Education Research

Pat Mahony


Pat is Assistant Dean Research in the School of Education, Roehampton University and Chair of UCET's Research and Development Committee.

As with any other enquiry into human behaviour, research into teacher education raises a number of ethical concerns. These include: issues of confidentiality and anonymity; potential tensions between the insider/outsider nature of the researcher's positioning; diverse accountabilities that may lead to conflicts in reconciling the needs of various constituencies not to be damaged by the research; and establishing the parameters of the research participants. The latter can pose particularly tricky problems. For example, in researching the experiences of ‘trainee' teachers, one inevitably collects data that includes information on people who have not consented to be involved such as school staff and children. Many of these issues are dealt with at .

Ethical issues become more urgent if such data reveal that harm is being perpetrated, for example that a trainee teacher is being subjected to racist comments whilst on school placement. The avoidance of harm, for those philosophers who espouse a naturalistic theory of ethics is fundamental to what constitutes behaving morally. Mahony's paper ‘What ought to be done about ought?' ( which begins to explore the potential of naturalistic theories to support teachers in developing ethical literacy, can equally be applied to researchers.


How to reference this page: Mahony P. (2007) Ethics and Teacher Education Research. London: TLRP. Online at (accessed )

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