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Ethics - A quick overview of how I feel.

In short:
The study: Tell teachers some of their students are gifted (when they are not), and see if these students excel more academically on average.
Results: It would seem they do.
Ethical Implications: Yeah... about that..

A lot of studies have various ethical implications, which today go through incredible scrutiny to make sure we actually don't harm or impact the participant in any lasting way. It's reasonable, and in my opinion, necessary. However, let me point out the difficulty in having this system too. In education, we often want to learn what impacts participants and changes the way they learn to become smarter. However, for someone to become smarter, and learn more, you are inherently required to have a control group, which won't. That is always an issue. There are ways around it, and ways you can conduct the studies to put the control group in the experiment after you are done conducting data so that they both benefit, but for the most part, there's a line in ethics where you have to realize: If we don't cross it and become unethical, we may lose the value of a new understanding in learning. However, it's impractical to even try to measure understanding and weigh it against the effects you may have on the participant. The problem lies in that any experience can alter a participant in a way that a good lawyer could argue was harmful, and every single study that is planned can be argued to fail the ecological validity test because it is a scenario that is inherently planned, and therefore, does not mimic real life. So, what does all this skepticism and being devil's advocate leave us with?

Experiments are valuable. Experiments are the very reading of this article. Experiments are every step you take in life. You can conduct studies and discuss ethics, sure, go ahead. It will probably get you published and it has a lot of educational value because it takes true genius to create studies that conform to ethical standards and prove concepts about human behavior. However, it is human observation that will lead us beyond the significance of studies, because it is ecologically valid in its form, and although probably not externally valid to the entire human race, it is valuable to the culture that surrounds you. It was human observation that created the field of psychology, and it is primarily that which I believe will lead to the greatest discoveries about who we are, and how we behave.

Although I sort of veered off topic, to answer the ethical implications of the study, I do believe it was unethical for the other students who did not get the attention from the professor, but at the same time we understood that separation in our society and labeling has drastic impacts on the development of children. It would be impossible to conclude which was valued more, because you can't devalue humans and not care about their disadvantage, but at the same time the impacts of understanding what labeling can do has a huge impact on other human beings, so there's no real answer. But those are the implications.



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