Source: RMC Research Corporation, October 2002
Anyone conducting service-learning research or evaluation should be aware of the research standards and guidance for protection of human subjects. The following provides a brief summary and where to go for additional information.
Standards for Quality Evaluation
The Joint Committee on Standards for Education Evaluation (1994) developed standards for evaluation that we believe must be met for the evaluation to have integrity and usefulness. Briefly, these standards include the following:
Ensures that the evaluation will meet the needs of the clients. These include identifying stakeholders; being responsive to needs and interests; performing work with integrity and trustworthiness; carefully describing the perspectives, procedures and rationale for data collection and interpretation; clearly describing programs and their contexts and purposes; disseminating information in a timely fashion; and encouraging follow through so that the information is used to improve programs.
Ensures that the evaluation will be realistic, prudent, diplomatic and efficient. Feasibility standards include practicality, political viability and cost effectiveness.
Ensures that the evaluation is conducted legally, ethically and respectfully, with due regard to those involved in the evaluation and those affected by it. These include a service orientation that explicitly recognizes the obligation to be open with all participants; formal agreements about what is to be done, how, by whom and when; protecting the rights of human subjects; keeping human interactions positive and non-threatening; being fair in all data collection and interpretation; disclosing findings to all interested parties; dealing with any conflicts of interest in a forthright manner, being ethically responsible; and maintaining fiscal responsibility and integrity so that expenditures are accounted for and appropriate.
Ensures that the evaluation will reveal and convey technically adequate information. These include program documentation, context analysis, detailed explanations of purposes and procedures, defensible information sources, valid and reliable information, systematic review of data, justified conclusions, impartial reporting, and reflection on the evaluation process itself to uncover any errors, flaws, alternative interpretations and explanations, and the need for more information.
For more information on the Joint Committee on Standards for Education Evaluation, visit their website.
Protection of Human Subjects in Research
Researchers should be aware that there are ethical guidelines for the protection of human subjects in research. To receive copies of the Department of Education's Regulations Governing the Protection of Human Subjects in Research, please call (202) 205-0667 or visit the U.S. Department of Education's Protection of Human Subjects in Research website.
The following websites provide more information on ethical guidelines for the protection of human subjects in research.
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