Ethical Implications Of Using Sensors To Research On Students: A Case Study Of University Of Arizona

Utilitarianism Theory

The paper focuses on the case of University of Arizona which will take into consideration the ethical implications of using the sensors to gather the information related to the students for the entire research of the company. The importance of these ethical principles has enhanced with the entire risk related with the cyber-attacks on the private information of the individuals. The University of Arizona has offered Cat Cards to the students that help them to enter and exit from various locations in the campus.

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This information is gathered by the university so that it can be easy to determine the reason for retaining 20 percent of the students who are not there in the University in the second year. The information consists of private data related with the students like their routines, friends and hangout places (Blue, 2018).

At the time of sending the research date, the university also ensures that the information is anonymous and also the personal information can be shared with the academic advisers related with the students. It has been investigated that the university is planning to install 8,000 WI Fi hubs in the university so that information accuracy can be maintained. It will also help to consider proper results which will help to maintain the overall process of data collection.  This information is gathered by the campus when the student enters the college and it goes on till the course end.

There are many students who are not aware about the process of data collection and also the university do not given any option related to this to them.  This essay will analyze that whether it is ethical to gather the information about the students or whether it is important to raise privacy and security issues. In this essay the emphasize will also be given on various theories like Utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ad contract theories so that proper evaluation will be made of the ethical dilemma related to this case.

In this theory it has been analyzed that it is the part of the normative ethical concepts which helps to consider the morality of the particular situation related to the consequences. The key focus of this theory offers that people and entities should emphasize on the greater good of the greater number of individuals. This theory also takes into consideration the consequences related with a situation and it determine that whether then act is ethical or not. The main key stakeholders in this case take into consideration the university and students.  The main motive of this university is to gather the information of the students so that reasons can be find out of the attrition rates of the students. Approximately there are 20 percent of the students who do not attend the second year in the university and it has been seen that university wants to search for the same by gathering the information of the students. The consequences of this evaluation can be disastrous as the privacy and security of the third party can be affected.  

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Deontology Theory

Also the information of the students is anonymous which also showcase the academic advisers of the students. It affects the privacy of the students by not having knowledge as there are many people who are unaware.  The main motive of this is to give advantage to the university by retaining the students which also contradict with the overall element of the utilitarianism approach as the individuals who are related to greater good of a greater number of people is not taken into consideration in this university. It has been analyzed that consequences can be catastrophic of the student information which is leaked (Raicu, 2018).  So, it can be stated that this decision is unethical according to this theory.

The deontology ethics is considered as the ethical theory which is basically a part of the normative ethical concepts. According to this perceptive, the morality of the individuals can be defined as right or wrong and also it is based on the rules rather than the consequences of the acts. The factors of this theory offer that maxim should be stated as the actions of the people which can be good or bad. According to theory, the research which took place is conducted by the University of Arizona which is considered as unethical.

According to EDUCAUSE review, the ethical framework is important to be managed by the parties as there is the need of considering the data of the students in context to the higher education. It has been seen that the key principle is to offer transparency to the parties at the time of gathering the data of the people.  The university has breached this factor just because it failed to maintain he clear representations in context to nature of the data which is gathered by the institution and also with the third party companies. Secondly, it also failed to explicate the overall way in which the information should be taken into consideration (Lazar, 2017).

Lastly, it has been seen that university also failed to focus on reviewing the data through clearly articulated process of governance.  The students also do not focus on the part of the research that should be considered. The students who did not focus on the research part should focus on considering this. By considering these factors he acts which are taken by the university are unethical.

It has been seen that this theory takes into consideration the moral characters of the party rather than the actions at the time of evaluating the overall morality. It is also related with the character based approach which offers the individuals to attain the virtue through experience and also with the practice (Bai, 2017).  According to Aristotle’s approach, it is important to consider the practice of the good virtue so ha moral character like honesty and bravery can be created.  In reference to this case, the university has not considered the good virtue which focuses on the decision to conduct the research on the basis of private information which is unethical.  In the first phase the University has failed to focus on honesty at the time of gathering the information and maintaining the transparency in the process (Craft, 2013).  Also it has been seen that it has breached the overall integrity by not offering an option for the students to do research. Just because of the bad virtue, the acts of the university are also not considered as unethical (Gotsis & Grimani, 2015).

Virtue Theory

This theory offers that parties should consider the set of rules that govern the behavior in the society.  The individuals have created ideal social contracts which focus on the behavior so that they can act in an ethical manner. By focusing on the principles, it has been examined that the decisions which are taken by the university to research about the students in unethical. According to social contracts, it is necessary that the university should maintain the transparency and also disclosure to the students so that private data can be maintained. It has offered them an option to focus on the research if the private information is shared. The university also failed to comply with the factors so that research which is taken into consideration is unethical which can result in breaching the various social contracts (Walsh, 2015).


The aim of the research which is conducted by the University of Arizona is to search out that why the students do not focused on continuing the academic studies after first year. The method also considered by the university which raised many ethical concerns. The aim of gathering the data collection process is not structured by the university to its students. There are many who are unaware that their data is considered for the purpose of this study for the first day on the campus. Also, the university does not offer any options to the students to prevent the information from being accessed.

So, by analyzing the case study it has been concluded that University of Arizona is considered to focus on ethical issues concerned with privacy and security.  The issue is enhanced just due to lack of transparency which is maintained by the university. So, it is important for the university o establish the ethical factors by focusing on the process in which the information of the students should be collected in reference to the purpose.


Bai, F. (2017). Beyond dominance and competence: A moral virtue theory of status attainment. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 21(3), 203-227.

Blue, A. (2018). Researcher Looks at ‘Digital Traces’ to Help Students. Retrieved from

Craft, J. L. (2013). A review of the empirical ethical decision-making literature: 2004–2011. Journal of business ethics, 117(2), 221-259.

Gotsis, G., & Grimani, K. (2015). Virtue theory and organizational behavior: an integrative framework. Journal of Management Development, 34(10), 1288-1309.

Lazar, S. (2017). Deontological Decision Theory and Agent-Centered Options. Ethics, 127(3), 579-609.

Raicu, I. (2018). Students and Sensors: Data, education, privacy, and research. Retrieved from

Walsh, R. T. (2015). Introduction to ethics in psychology: Historical and philosophical grounding. Journal of theoretical and philosophical psychology, 35(2), 69.