An Exploration of Ethical Trading Challenges in Educational Psychology
Date: 1 September 2020
University of Exeter
Doctorate in Educational, Child, and Community Psychology
Abstract Over the past decade, there has been a rise in the number of educational psychologists (EPs) and services that have started trading within their respective service delivery models to generate an income and meet service costs. Due to this, EPs have had to develop new skills, such as engaging in ethical trading practices. However, ...
Abstract Over the past decade, there has been a rise in the number of educational psychologists (EPs) and services that have started trading within their respective service delivery models to generate an income and meet service costs. Due to this, EPs have had to develop new skills, such as engaging in ethical trading practices. However, identifying ethical challenges can take experience, skill, and reflection. Moreover, upon their identification, there can be questions about the degree to which the challenges to trading ethically can be fully resolved. This research is comprised of two phases. In Phase One, I aimed to explore the ethical trading challenges experienced and/or perceived by practising EPs, to inform EPs’ preparedness for practice-based ethical challenges. To do this, I conducted semi-structured interviews and thematic analyses with seven EPs from semi- and fully traded services, in order to generate themes related to participants’ personal and social experiences of ethical trading challenges. I found areas of ethical concern in the form of themes related to ‘fairness’, ‘competence’, ‘implications for trainee and assistant EPs’, ‘ethical communication’, and ‘markets’. This is in addition to two novel themes, ‘navigating agendas’ and ‘service models in transition’. In Phase Two, I aimed to explore EPs resolutions to the aforementioned challenges in order to inform service level guidance on the skills and approaches required and how best to prepare and support EPs with their resolutions. To do this, I used the findings in Phase One to create three hypothetical ethically challenging trading scenarios, which I presented to four focus groups of EPs. Following this, I conducted thematic analysis, in order to construct themes related to the participants’ views on how to resolve them. I then generated six final themes on how the EPs resolve the ethical trading challenges that they encounter: ‘gathering additional information’, ‘a focus on relationships’, ‘taking intervening action’, ‘an ethical service’, ‘a well-equipped service’, and ‘service improvement efforts’. By discussing the findings of both phases in relation to the extant literature, I concluded that the challenges cover a wide range of EP roles, while also being subjective to the individual, based on their perception of whether a decision was ethical or whether it posed a challenge to them. When faced with ethical challenges, the EPs aimed to understand the situation as best as they can whilst also ensuring that they have the resources and support in place to inform their decision-making centred around resolutions. Owing to this, it may be helpful for services shifting to these models to identify the challenges that arise in their respective contexts and to audit what ethically supportive provisions they possess, in order to enable EPs to continue to practise as ethically as they can.
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