Potential ethical concerns and bias in my own research.

Ethics is not only institutional review boards, code of conduct, and laws, it can also be my own bias. Initial thoughts about personal bias leads me to the outcomes I want to find in my research.  I want to show that gamification can improve working memory processing.  Although many studies mention gamification and cognitive function there is very little empirical data.  Anything I contribute to this body of research would just be a steppingstone, but still exciting to uncover. It would be very easy to design survey questions that led participants into showing significant success.  I need to account for the potential of my bias in the design of my research.  All measurement questions need to be carefully worded as to avoid response bias.  In addition, the design needs to include a way to self-check and make sure my research is trustworthy.

After further study and the class discussion I realize I could encounter additional ethical concerns.  First, the researcher-participant relationship. Colleagues will be solicited to volunteer participation. This can lead to participants responding to what they believe are my wishes.   Since the research is not measuring individuals, but instead the success of the gamification, it would be possible to incorporate anonymous data collection.   This would make participants comfortable to respond freely without worry of affecting our working relationship.  The second concern is this will be design-based research.  At this point it appears I will be designing the gamification module that will be used in my research.  Is this a concern or an asset? In qualitative research the researcher is the tool used.  This should mean that all knowledge, experience, and even bias are valuable elements of the research process.  So, having an intimate knowledge of design and development of the gamified module should be an asset. As pointed out by Anderson & Shattuck (2012) “we argue that this inside knowledge adds as much as it detracts from the research.” (p18) Unfortunately an industry of exports might not agree with this perspective and find that my results are not trustworthy.  The research methodology should include a means of self-check to make sure it is staying true to finding truth.  Although my expertise can be an asset, it is important to incorporate a process that will let the gathered data light the path to the actual findings.

It is not uncommon for me to learn something and change trajectory very easily.  In qualitative research my challenge is that line between staying focused on goals and letting the research evolve through reciprocal transformation.  For this I need to establish distinct goals and logically disseminate them in order to redirect into new more progressive goals. Stay tuned as I figure out how to do this!  

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