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Procedures for Conducting Research

Preparations

Preparations during class with your professor

Your professor will go over all the details of your project and will have provided the administration at Wimpfheimer a copy of your assignment. You should review this assignment carefully, discussing the methodological and procedural issues for your study. It is your professional responsibility to be fully prepared before you arrive at the school. In particular, you should know:

  1. What rooms at Wimpfheimer would be appropriate observation or testing locations?
  2. What age group or class do you need to work with?
  3. How long will you need to observe or to work with each child?
  4. Does your project require familiarization time?
  5. Are there any limitations on what activities you can observe in order to complete your project or assignment? (For example, is circle time OK or do you require free play?)

Making an appointment

  • Appointments are required for all visits to the nursery school. This includes familiarization time, observational research and direct contact testing sessions.
  • All appointments are to be made at least one day in advance. Appointment requests made after regular working hours (Monday-Friday; 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) will be answered on the following business day. Please note appointments for Monday must be made no later than the previous Thursday.
  • Advanced appointments are encouraged! Appointments can be made at any time in the semester, for any week of the semester. Planning ahead helps guarantee you time slots most convenient for you.

To make an appointment, please email Julie Riess (director).

Sample email message

Please use the following format for making appointments. This will expedite your appointment request and reduce the number of email communications necessary to confirm your appointment time. Single lines of information are easiest for us to read.

Dear Ms. Riess, this is a request for a research appointment.

Name & Phone: Matthew Vassar Jr., Extension x 1861

Professor: Margaret Floy Washburn

Course: Psychology 239 - Developmental Lab

Project: Conservation Study

Type of appointment: Familiarization appointment (familiarization, observation, direct contact)

Classroom request: I need to work in the mixed age half day program.

Location request: I need to work in the observation booth (booth or classroom).

Time and Date: My first choice is Tuesday, February 19th from 9-10. My second choice is Thursday, February 21st, from 9-10.

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Procedures for Conducting Research: Observational Projects

Preparation

  1. Review assignment with professor. Understand all requirements of assignment.
  2. Make an email appointment.

Arrival at Wimpfheimer

  1. On day of appointment, arrive 5 minutes early to allow for sign in and time to get to children's classroom or observation site.
  2. Place coat and outdoor clothing in student coat closet on ground floor.
  3. Sign-in research log book located in lobby.
  4. Put on appropriate name tags. Name tags are a matter of building security. If you are not wearing a name tag, you will be stopped and asked what you are doing in the building.
    1. Write your first name on a disposable label/tag.
    2. Select the Observation Research tag. This is used for observation time for any observation of children regardless of location (classroom, booth, outdoors). It tells teaching staff that you are avoiding interactions with the children and are trying to work as unobtrusively as possible.
  5. On your first visit or if you have any questions, check in with an administrator on the first floor (Kathy Tritschler, secretary or Julie Riess, director). Someone will escort you to the classroom and introduce you to the teachers.
  6. On subsequent visits, head up to the classroom where you have your research appointment.

Classroom Protocol

  • Maintain a professional manner throughout your visit.
  • Introduce yourself to a classroom teacher and let them know the purpose of your visit.
  • Sit low to the ground - whether you are in the classroom or on the playground.
  • Avoid talking to other research partners unless necessary. Remember that the observation booths are not soundproof.
  • Keep lights off and doors shut at all times. Light in the observation booth creates shadow images in the one way glass from the children's perspective.
  • Feel free to ask teachers questions, but wait until they have a moment to address their attention to you.
  • Let a teacher know you are leaving; eye contact or a wave good-bye is fine.

Equipment Protocol

  • Read all equipment instructions carefully before beginning. If you have any doubts about using the sound equipment, come to the office and ask for assistance. Do not adjust or even think about touching the master sound boards.
  • Turn off all equipment when you are done. Bring all slider bars, especially the master volume control, back to zero.
  • Wrap cords around headsets and place them on counter.

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Procedures for Conducting Research: Direct Contact Projects

Preparation

  1. Review assignment with professor. Understand all requirements of assignment.
  2. Make an email appointment with the assistant director.

Familiarization

Researchers are required to spend two hours of familiarization time in each classroom which contains their subject pool. Familiarization time must also include a structured group time or snack time to allow the teachers to introduce the researcher to the children. Upon completion of familiarization time in each relevant classroom, researchers are responsible for noting their familiarization time on the familiarization log provided in the sign-in research log. Researchers need to repeat familiarization time if more than six weeks has lapsed since their last classroom visit. This requirement may be waived with the approval of the Director if the children are familiar and comfortable with the researcher.

Arrival at Wimpfheimer

  1. On day of appointment, arrive 10 minutes early to allow for sign in and time to get to children's classroom or observation site.
  2. Place coat and outdoor clothing in student coat closet on ground floor.
  3. Sign-in research log book located in lobby.
  4. Put on appropriate name tags. Name tags are a matter of building security. If you are not wearing a name tag, you will be stopped and asked what you are doing in the building.
    1. Write your first name on a disposable label/tag.
    2. Select appropriate tag for type of study:
      Familiarization tag
      used for familiarization time in classrooms. Tells teaching staff that you are seeking interactions with the children and need to be introduced at circle, snack or lunch time (when children are in a group).
      Direct Contact Research tag
      used for testing sessions with children participating in direct contact studies. Tells teaching staff that you are seeking specific children to approach and request participation in a direct contact study outside of the classroom.
  5. Check in with an administrator on the first floor (Kathy Tritschler, secretary; Laura Ball, assistant director; or Julie Riess, director) to obtain the current list of children who have consent for participation. This list is called the master Research Participation Log for Children. Select which children you would like to test that day.

Classroom Protocol

  • Maintain a professional manner throughout your visit.
  • Introduce yourself to at least one classroom teacher and let them know the purpose of your visit. Tell them which child you are hoping to test. Use the teachers as a resource when making decisions about which child might be ready to leave the room.
  • Remember to re-establish contact with each child. A few minutes of play may be appropriate. Time spent getting the child to feel comfortable is time invested for a smooth testing session and higher quality data. We encourage you to say, "It's your turn to play a game with me now." ALWAYS make sure a teacher knows when you have taken a child from the classroom and when you have returned with that child.
  • Let a teacher know you are finished testing that day; eye contact or a wave good-bye is fine.

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Procedures for Conducting Research: Completing the Project

The child ALWAYS has the right to refuse participation at ANY time in the task. Researchers may choose to come back at another time and try again. When a child refuses participation, the researcher needs to note this on the master Research Participation Log. Children may not be asked to participate in a study more than three separate times. They may only participate in one project on any given day.

Confidentiality

Protecting subjects' identity. Children's true identities must be protected. Pseudo first names or subject identification numbers are required in all written documents (e.g. assignments, papers). First names, last names, nicknames or initials are not to be used.

All information is confidential. Any information acquired during your visit to the nursery school (or related activities with the children) is confidential. Children should not be discussed anywhere except in the class or lab group sponsoring the research project at Wimpfheimer. Telling cute stories about the children while standing in line at ACDC, strolling across campus, or sitting around in your dorm room is not appropriate, professional conduct.

Maintaining confidentiality is standard, ethical practice in human subjects research, regardless of the location of the subject pool. In the close quarters of a laboratory school and campus community, confidentiality is of the utmost importance and sensitivity. Our families are part of the campus and town communities who have put their trust in us as researchers to respect their privacy. At the same time, they have generously offered their participation in our studies. Parental consent forms for observational and direct contact research state that the confidentiality of the child will be maintained at all times. Do not discuss the children outside of the classroom.

Incident Reports

If a child is injured while with a researcher, the researcher is responsible for reporting the injury immediately to a Wimpfheimer administrator in charge. (Examples include tripping on the stairs or bumping into a piece of furniture where an injury is incurred.) The administrator is responsible for completing a standard Incident Report in conjunction with the researcher.

Debriefing

Debriefing refers to the process of providing human subjects the full results of a research project, including the methodology of the study.

  • The Principle Investigator (or professor for a course using the lab school) needs to inform the director of the nursery school when testing is completed. All consent forms will be returned to the professor for storage/archival records at the end of the academic year.
  • The Principle Investigator needs to provide the findings of the study or project to the director of the nursery school, to the staff and to the parents at the completion of the study. This should be done in a reasonable and timely manner.
  • Professors responsible for courses need to submit a written description of the assignment or project, and any outcome results.
  • Only group data is to be shared; individual data is not to be shared with anyone, including parents.
  • Researchers are encouraged to present their findings to our parents and staff in other formats, such as a parent discussion group, poster presentation, or staff development meeting.
  • Copies of published papers or other professional works resulting from research at the Wimpfheimer Nursery School should be submitted to the Director in a reasonable and timely manner.

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