ERIC Number: ED338520
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
Looking Out for Eliza Doolittle: The Ethical Treatment of Education Research Subjects. Working Paper.
George Bernard Shaw's play, "Pygmalion," tells the story of an educational experiment involving Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins. The characters set out to achieve a dramatic alteration in Eliza's linguistic ability, and they succeed. This paper uses "Pygmalion" as a case study in the treatment of education research subjects. Important moral issues in education research are highlighted and current practices in educational research are analyzed. The context created by the discussion of "Pygmalion" and the real life practice of education research provide the basis for advancing four proposals regarding the ethical treatment of education research subjects: (1) Standard practice in education research should include researchers devoting some time to educating the research subjects about the nature of the education research in which they participate. (2) Standard practice in education research should include some form of (financial) compensation to research subjects for time devoted to activities that are part of the research but that offer no significant promise of benefiting the subjects. (3) When education research projects involving different populations of students prove substantially beneficial to some, but not to other experimental groups, the unbenefitted groups should be offered the beneficial treatment, whenever feasible. (4) Researchers should entertain the possibility of conducting more risky, but no less scientifically rigorous, research experiments despite the ethical problems such research may pose. In addition to the case study provided by"Pygmalion," the discussion of these proposals includes considering the current state of the art of education research and current ethical practices, focusing on institutionalized laws, regulations, and codes governing the protection of research subjects. (Author/DB)
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC. Office of Research.
Identifiers: Human Subject Protection; Pygmalion