Illuminating the Role of Reflexivity Within Qualitative Pilot Studies: Experiences From a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Project
Lees, Amanda B.
Pilot studies within qualitative inquiry are crucial yet often hidden aspects of research design. In this article, we argue for pilots to have greater visibility. We explore the role of a pilot in providing a foundation for enhancing ethical reflexivity, drawing on a recent pilot study within a tertiary healthcare education setting. The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) presents a unique environment with complex stakeholder relationships. There is a lack of consensus nationally and internationally on whether all SoTL projects require consideration by institutional ethics review bodies. A pilot study offers an opportunity for ethical steerage of a research project, reflecting ethics in practice whilst augmenting any procedural ethics review requirements. We propose that a qualitative pilot study, as a design strategy, can enhance ethical conduct by researchers. Within SoTL specifically, the pilot can provide an opportunity for researchers to demonstrate a commitment to a pedagogy of care spanning the project’s duration, signifying a commitment to enduring teacher-student relationships within the broader learning environment. Beyond tertiary settings, we believe the pilot study, as a space for ethical reflexivity, has applicability to research settings where caring for and being seen to care for the wider participant community is a critical ethical consideration.