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Experiential Learning and Research Ethics: Enhancing Knowledge Through Action

How can instructors use experiential learning strategies to enhance student understanding of research ethics and responsible research conduct? In this article, the authors review literature on using experiential learning to teach research ethics and responsible research conduct. They present a three-step exercise for teaching research ethics and responsible research conduct using experiential learning strategies. Their primary teaching and learning objective is to broaden student understanding of ethical behavior beyond notions of “right” and “wrong” to a conception of ethical behavior involving thinking critically about all stages of the research process. The authors present assessment data that suggest that participation in the exercise increased knowledge about ethical guidelines and broadened understandings of ethical behavior.

Human Subjects Training (Beginner Level)

Throughout this workbook we’ve mentioned the need for Institutional Review Board approval for student research. There has been a great deal of discussion at the federal level about what is exempt research and what must be reviewed. Whether or not your institution requires all students to participate in the review process it is critical that students understand the need for Institutional Review Boards and what constitutes ethical research. This exercise guides you through the history of the federal legislation and allows students to participate in human subjects trainings.

Secrets and the Sociological Imagination: Using to Illustrate Sociological Concepts

Introductory sociology classes afford instructors an opportunity to expose students, often from a variety of backgrounds and majors, to the sociological imagination. In this article, I describe how the use of secrets from a popular website,, can help teach students about the sociological imagination and incorporate biographical examples in explanations of broader social trends and sociological concepts. I present results from a survey of students in an introductory sociology class in order to gauge their response to the use of anonymous secrets. Results reveal that over 75% of students indicated that PostSecret helped them understand the sociological imagination and learn sociological concepts, 93% of students reported that it helped them understand course content through the use of examples, and 69% indicated that it helped them remember important concepts. Students also indicated that the discussion of secrets helped them recognize their own assumptions about the social world and provided them with a perspective different from their own.