SoTL and Research Ethics

The policy governing research ethics in Canada is contained in the Tri-Council Policy Statement on the Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2). All research conducted involving human participants must undergo ethics review. Mount Royal University’s Human Research Ethics Board (HREB) conducts all such review.

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning has a special relationship to human research ethics, in the sense that SoTL is usually done within the context of a teacher-student relationship. This relationship is defined by the TCPS 2 as a “dual-role” relationship. Protections must be put into place to prevent students feeling unduly obligated to participate in the SoTL research of their instructors, and to prevent any perceived repercussions of participation (or non-participation).

Dual role of researchers and their associated obligations (e.g., acting as both a researcher and a therapist, health care provider, caregiver, teacher, advisor, consultant, supervisor, student or employer) may create conflicts, undue influences, power imbalances or coercion that could affect relationships with others and affect decision-making procedures (e.g. consent of participants)” (TCPS 2, p. 95).

At the Institute for SoTL, we take this responsibility very seriously. The following resources are provided to help you design your SoTL study with rigorous attention to the ethical dimension. If you need further advice, please contact the Academic Director of the SoTL institute for general insight into how to design an ethically appropriate SoTL study. For particular advice related to the HREB review process, contact the Research Compliance Officer at

To view the Tri-Council Policy Statement, or to take the online ethics tutorial:

HREB forms (filled out using the ROMEO system):


SoTL and Ethics workshop slides (updated April 2018):

SoTL and Ethics Workshop PowerPoint


Resource created by Lisa Fedoruk at the Taylor Institute at the University of Calgary: 


HREB dual role researcher guidance document
*most SoTL research is considered dual role


Resource created by the Research Ethics Board at Dalhousie University