Colored Stickers and the IRB

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Just had an interesting discussion with the IRB board (the good kind of interesting) about how to establish consent for observing a class activity.

One of our current Educational Gaming Commons projects involves converting a face-to-face game to an online format....which will be played in every section in a hybrid course. Because every section is hybrid and because the game is an integral part of the course, we really can't have control sections without the game. If we did, the students might not have an alternative activity.

Our assessment plan therefore involves observing the original face-to-face game. Very simple, except that I couldn't figure out how to "discard" data from students who didn't want to participate in the study. The game is too chaotic to NOT observe everyone, and it was a requirement, so students had to be there to get credit.

I passed this on to the IRB board, and they had a good solution - stickers. At first, we thought to hand out stickers to those who didn't consent, but I was concerned they might feel put on the spot. So we changed it to hand out colored stickers to everyone. I might also ask them to put names or initials on it, so I can give everyone an identifier.

This is a good solution and I might use it for other in-class IRB activities (e.g. in-class focus groups). I ran a focus group in class and it was actually a real challenge to track who was and wasn't participating because I wouldn't get consent forms until the end ... after data was already recorded. Yikes.

Colored stickers...who knew.

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