Ethics and Technology: Response to Pfohl-Part II

By Jacob, Susan; Armistead, Leigh | National Association of School Psychologists. Communique, May 2011 | Go to article overview

Ethics and Technology: Response to Pfohl-Part II


Jacob, Susan, Armistead, Leigh, National Association of School Psychologists. Communique


The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) 2010 revision of its Principles for Professional Ethics (NASP-PPE) became effective in January 2011. As members of the ethics code revision team, we werepleased to see Dr. Pfohl's (2010, Vol. 39, Numbers 3 & 4) two-part commentary on "Ethics and Technology" in COMMUNIQUÉ. In Part I of our response to his commentary, we agreed with his observation that NASP's new ethics code does not provide detailed standards with respect to electronic communication and record keeping or the use of computer-assisted assessment, intervention, orresearch.Wealso provided somebackground to help readers understand why that is the case and invited NASP's Computer and Technological Applications Interest Group to draft a position statement or guidelines for the use of technology in school psychology. In this article, several contemporary ethical-legal issues associated with the use of technology in assessment, intervention, and research are identified.

"When conducting assessments, a school psychologist is ethically obligated to ensure that the psychoeducational evaluation of a student with a suspected disability is multifaceted, comprehensive, valid, fair, and useful (NASP-PPE, Principle II). Practitioners have a responsibility to ensure that all assessment procedures, including those that are computer-assisted or involve assistive devices, yield reliable and valid results prior to using them to inform decision making. Concerns about computer-assisted assessment techniques are not new. As early as the 19805, psychologists began to explore the ways in which technological innovations can improve assessment practices and discussed the potential problems associated with the use of technology in assessment (e.g., American Psychological Association,i986). Further technological advances (Naglieri et al., 2004) and societal changes have posed new questions regarding how to interpret ethical principles as they relate to the use of technology in assessment. For example, if an adolescent student is referred to the school psychologist because of suspected emotional difficulties, is it ethically appropriate for the psychologist to access the student's MySpace or Facebook webpage to gather information about the referred student without, or even with, permission to do so (Dailor & Jacob, 2010; Lehavot, Barnett, & Powers, 2010)? Additional guidelines regarding the use of technology in school psychology might address this and other emerging technology-related assessment issues.

When developing and recommending interventions, school psychologists are ethically obligated to select intervention techniques "that the profession considers to be responsible, research-based practice" (NASP-PPE 11.3.9). Access to information about potentially effective interventions for students who are struggling academically or behaviorally has grown dramatically with the Internet. In addition, many computer-assisted intervention programs are now available. An example is the popular Headsprout reading program (www.headsprout.com), which adapts instruction as student progress or difficulties become apparent. Practitioners are obligated to give preference to interventions reported to be effective based on findings from scientifically sound studies. Furthermore, practitioners must strive for fidelity to the treatment program as it is described in the research literature while at the same time adapting the intervention to the uniciue characteristics of the school> cl- - and student. They also are obligated to monitor intervention effectiveness and revise the intervention plan "when data indicate the desired outcomes are not beins obtained" (NASp-ppE Standard II, 2,2)We encourage NASP's Computer and Technological Applications Interest Group to draft guidelines to assist practitioners in using technology to locate, implement, and monitor professionally sound interventions for students, classrooms, and school systems. …

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