Researching student absence: Methodological challenges and ethical issues
Young, P., Yates, S., Rickaby, C., Snelling, P., Lipscomb, M. and Lockyer, L. (2010) Researching student absence: Methodological challenges and ethical issues. Nurse Education Today, 30 (4). pp. 291-295. ISSN 0260-6917 Available from: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/7674
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2009.08.003
This article describes the challenges encountered in a research project aiming to explore non-attendance from the perspective of absent students. These students are nursing students in a Faculty of Health and Social Care, but the issues raised here are of wider interest. Although attendance at the sessions monitored for this project is stated to be compulsory, there is typically a non-attendance rate of around 20%. Previous studies within the Faculty have reported positively on students’ views of the sessions, but have relied on data collected from students present in the university and attending the sessions. We felt it was important to correct this imbalance with the views of those students who do not attend. We hoped to access the views of students not present in the university by means of telephone interviews, carried out by a researcher independent from the course management. This article explores a number of ethical and methodological issues which arose from the research, focusing on the difficulties in gaining informed consent from students who do not attend, and the challenges in moving beyond surface responses to questions on reasons for non-attendance.