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NRS81002 Professional Practices

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NRS81002 Professional Practices

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Course Code: NRS81002
University: Southern Cross University

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Country: Australia

Question:

Write an essay on the case study: 
https://www.scu.edu/ethics/focus-areas/internet-ethics/resources/students-and-sensors-data-education-privacy-and-research/

Answer:

Introduction
This essay will highlight on the case of University of Arizona in order to understand the ethical implications of using the sensors to gather the data in relevance with the students for the purpose of the research of the organization. Since the revolution of internet cyber threats have been increased immensely and in relevance to this, significance of ethical principles has also been grown.
Introduction to case
In relation to reduce the impact of cyber threats, University of Arizona has issues CatCards to its students which will provide information regarding entry and exit of students from any of the locations in the campus. Primary reason for collecting this data for University was to determine the reasons for shortfall in the attendance in the second year. Approximately 20% students did not attended the classes in second year and with the help of this data, University will easily be able to determine the information of people who were not present in the campus with the objective of retaining them for the further classes. While the major purpose was to collect entry and exit of students but it also collected sundry private information like their routines, friends, hangouts, places they visit, etc.
University assures students that when data will be sent to the research department, it will be sent anonymously but personal information could also be shared with the academic advisers for better results. In order to make the process of data collection reliable and quick, University planned to install 8,000 Wi-Fi hubs in the campus and the collection of data starts from the first day which will be continued for further three years (Peters, 2015). Glitch in this process was that most of the students did not know about the research executed by University and neither they were giving option to back off from the research and this essay will focus over the process adopted by the University for collecting data is ethical and whether it will lead to raise any private or security concerns. In relevance with making better understanding of the case, theories such as utilitarianism, deontology, virtue and contract ethical theory will be applied for the objective of raising ethical dilemma of this case.
Utilitarianism Theory
This theory is based on normative theories and the major purpose of this theory is to determine the morality of situation on the basis of its ramifications. Another primary focus of this theory is to think for the good for greater number of individuals. This theory analyses ramifications of a particular situation in consideration to determining whether actions of an individual, entity or group of individuals are ethical or unethical. As per this case study, key stakeholders are students and University and in respect of University, their aim of collecting data was to determine the reason due to which attrition rate has been increased. In the second year, approximately 20% students did not join the campus and University was executing the research for the objective of determining reasons for the high attrition rate. With regards to this, it has been evaluated that ramifications of this research can be dangerous as it could directly affect the security and privacy of the students (Sorokin, 2017).
Although, data will be shared on anonymous manner but it is also shared with personal details to the advisors and it could affect the privacy of the students because research was being executed without informing the students. With regards to this research, University was willing to retain more students and this purpose is contradicted as per the Utilitarianism approach because University did not considered benefit of greater number of people. Ramifications of this decision are disastrous because students’ private information could be leaked, thus, this decision is unethical as per this theory (Crane & Matten, 2016).
Deontology Theory
Deontology theory is also a substantial part of normative theories and it is also a part of crucial ethical theories. In this theory, morality of actions are defined on the basis of right and wrong which are evaluated on the basis of certain rules rather evaluating on the basis of ramifications of actions. This theory contains certain elements and on the basis of those elements, it is decided that whether actions of an individual are right or wrong. It has been evaluated that research executed by University is unethical as per this deontology theory. It is necessary to maintain an unethical framework by the parties as they are responsible for using the data of students in higher education as per EDUCAUSE Review (Trevino & Nelson, 2016). While collecting the data of individuals, it is necessary to maintain the transparency as per the key principles of this theory. Actions of University are unethical because they have failed to maintain clear picture in relevance with the extent of information which is directly collected by institution and shared with the third party organizations. Another unethical actions is done by the University is the wrong way chosen for accessing the information. Further, University has also failed to review the information on the basis of clear articulated government process. Students were not given the chance to opt out from the research which is another unethical decision taken by the University.
Virtue Theory
Virtue theory majorly focuses on the moral character of the parties rather focusing on the ramifications and the actions of individuals as per utilitarianism and deontology theory respectively in terms of accessing the morality. Virtue theory is also considered as the character based approach which describes that people adopts virtues on the basis of their personal life experiences. As per Aristotle’s approach, certain moral characters such as generosity, honesty, fairness, bravery, integrity, etc. needs to be adopted in order to create good virtues. As per this case study, University has executed the research for collecting data of students without informing them and their private information is also being shared to the third parties which is an unethical action. Thus, it could be said that University has not adopt good virtues while executing the research. Apart from this, other unethical act done by University was not providing an appropriate option to the students to back off from the research if they do not want to share their personal information (Mill, 2016).
Contract Theory
Contractarianism or contract theory states that parties should comply with certain set of rules which governs their behaviour in the society. Irrelevance to thee rules which governs their behaviour, individuals have adopted ideal social contracts in order to act rational and ethical as per the situation. As per this theory, research conducted by the University is unethical because they did not took permission from the students before sharing their personal information with third parties and as per the social contracts, it is necessary for the University to maintain transparency while executing the research because University has accessed personal information of the students and that too without their consent (Charura, McFarlane, Walker & Williams, 2017). Along with this, another social breach done by the University was not providing option to the students to back off from the research, thus, University failed to comply with the elements of this theory and thus, University’s actions considered as unethical (Bai, 2017).
What you think
Main aim of the University of Arizona was to understand the reason why students’ presence falls short after attending the classes in the first year. University’s aim was clear and correct but the method used by the University to gather data raised severe ethical concerns. Before collecting personal information of the students, University should have informed the students or they should have taken permission from the students because collecting private information could lead to various severe privacy and security issues. University does not cleared to the students regarding the reason for collecting their data, thus, many students were unaware about the usage of their collected data. Apart from this, University also shared the data with the third party organizations which is a big concern because students’ private data could be used in a negative manner which could lead to generate various security and privacy issues. Thus, it has been evaluated that the reason for conducting research was correct but the method used for collecting data was incorrect and unethical so it is recommended to the University to adopt certain changes in their policies to maintain a clear and transparent system for the collection and usage of their data (Bell, Dyck & Neubert, 2017).
Conclusion
While analysing the case study of University of Arizona, it has been evaluated that actions of University was unethical with respect to the theories such as utilitarianism, deontology, virtue and contract. Amongst the whole course of action, major fault was analysed from the end of University because they did not practiced a transparent process for collecting data. In addition to this, University did not provided chance to the students to back off from the collection of data as University has also collected private data from the students. So, it is required for the University to adopt an ethical framework for the objective of collecting data and for performing actions in an appropriate and effective manner.
References
Bai, F. (2017). Beyond dominance and competence: A moral virtue theory of status attainment. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 21(3), 203-227.
Bell, G. G., Dyck, B., & Neubert, M. J. (2017). Ethical Leadership, Virtue Theory, And Generic Strategies. Radical Thoughts on Ethical Leadership, 113.
Charura, D., McFarlane, K., Walker, B., & Williams, G. A. (2017). Above all, do no harm: Towards more ethical ways of being and acting in psychological formulation. In Clinical Psychology Forum. The British Psychological Society.
Crane, A., & Matten, D. (2016). Business ethics: Managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalization. Oxford University Press.
Mill, J. S. (2016). Utilitarianism. In Seven Masterpieces of Philosophy, 337-383. Routledge.
Peters, R. S. (2015). Ethics and Education (Routledge Revivals). Routledge.
Sorokin, P. (2017). Social and cultural dynamics: A study of change in major systems of art, truth, ethics, law and social relationships. Routledge.
Trevino, L. K., & Nelson, K. A. (2016). Managing business ethics: Straight talk about how to do it right. John Wiley & Sons.

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