Two weeks into the new semester, the professor in Mary’s course
on family health gives the class a special assignment that was not on
the course syllabus. Over the next week, everyone in the class is to
talk with three classmates who are not in the course about the way their
families deal with medical emergencies and chronic illness. Next week
they should come to class prepared to report on their interviews. The
Professor warns them, however, that in talking about their conversations
they should not mention any names to protect the privacy of their classmates.
The assignment makes Mary uneasy. In her basic psychology course last
semester she learned about some of the rules pertaining to the use of
human subjects in research. However, when she raises her concerns with
her professor, he assures her that her informal conversations with classmates
are not research and therefore not subject to regulation. Moreover,
since she will not be mentioning any names, there are no privacy issues
to worry about.
- Should Mary be content with these assurances and conduct the interviews?
- If she still has concerns, where should she turn for advice?
- Did the professor act properly in giving this assignment to the