Ethics in psychology teaching

Firth, Jonathan; Gajic, Deborah and McGinty, Jock, eds. (2022) Ethics in psychology teaching. In: Learning to Teach Psychology in the Secondary School. Learning to Teach Subjects in the Secondary School, 1 (1). Routledge, London, pp. 55-68. ISBN 9781003162223 (

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Research ethics is a fundamental part of any psychology course. As such, it is a key area which new psychology teachers must learn how to teach. However, the nature of the content and skills involved pose a number of challenges to teachers, and these differ from those that characterise other areas of the psychology curriculum. In particular, teachers must help their students to develop an understanding of ethical principles which can be recognised in context and applied to practical work. This chapter explores the teaching and application of ATP and BPS ethical guidelines in the psychology classroom. It focuses on the use of three 'desirable difficulties' – factors that can make learning more challenging but also more durable – to the teaching of ethics. Each of these pedagogical techniques has the potential to make ethics teaching better remembered and more transferable. These are: the use of spaced practice, the use of meaningful stories and vignettes to illustrate points, and the use of variation. The chapter explains how these principles can be applied to a series of classroom activity types, aiding teachers to develop their own ability to illustrate and illuminate ethical practice in psychology for their learners.