Saturday, September 29, 2012

Consent Form / Research

As I may have shared earlier this week, I said I would send out more specific information on some research I will be conducting in our classroom within the next few weeks. I am about to begin the second phase of my dissertation research. The first part took place during a trip to Oregon in which teachers from CFI conducted climate change research alongside Dr. Brian Helmuth, former CFI parent and leading researcher in climate studies. While working alongside Dr. Helmuth, I identified a model of learning that seemed to take place naturally as we worked in the field collecting data, conducting experiments, and learning about climate change.

This model of learning, an apprenticeship model, is when a more experienced person(s) guides the participation of less experienced persons in a variety of learning experiences such as problem solving or the use of culturally appropriate tools. This model is used much in the real world such as pairing mentor teachers with student teachers, when a parent shows their child how to cook a recipe, a new worker working alongside a more experienced worker in order to learn a trade, or a coach working alongside their players showing them drills, how to hit a ball, etc.

While teachers at CFI incorporate this model of learning into their everyday activities, I will deliberately be collecting data on how I incorporate this model of learning during a unit of study on climate change. What this means is I'll be using video and audio recordings as my primary way of documenting the apprenticeship model and student understanding. I will also be collecting samples of student work when appropriate. I am asking you, the parents, for permission to use video and audio samples your child may be in, as a part of my data collection. I also ask that I may use samples of their classroom work when appropriate.

In no way will this research interfere with your child's classroom learning. The types of learning experiences you have come to expect at CFI will continue. In fact, I'm hoping that by reflecting on this work, I will actually improve the kinds of learning experiences in order to make them more meaningful and reflect more real world experiences.

I also understand that the issue of climate change can be somewhat delicate since there are many opinions on the matter. The goal of my unit of study on climate change reflects the life of an inquirer - to take the knowledge one has gained and come to a conclusion. So during this study of climate change we will look at a variety of opinions on the matter. Some students may come to believe climate change is taking place and some may not. But as time passes they will continue altering their view. More important, do they know why they believe the way they do and can they articulate their understanding.

While I will be sending you a consent form with Monday's homework, I am also attaching a link to a pdf version of the consent form. On this form, you can type your name on the parent signature line giving me consent. There is also a line for your child's signature. Your child's signature lets me know your child understands their right as a participant in the study. Upon completion of the consent form, you may email it back or send it back to school with your child. The copy I send home can be signed and returned to school with your child. Here is the link to the pdf version.

I thank you in advance your help. My family thanks you as well since this is my last step in the process of obtaining my doctorate. I have been looking forward to this study for some time. Thanks again for all your help.

Scott Johnson

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