Skyline College’s process of inquiry has proven to be a wonderful collaborative effort that has great support from faculty, students, and administrators. You’d think that the campus research approval committee would be the last barrier to our success, and like us, you’d have another “think” coming. We are interested to know if any other colleges have experienced difficulty in getting their research committee to agree to the research parameters of the inquiry projects.
Skyline’s FIN group had no idea what was in store when we presented our proposal. We were given a 9-page packet of protocols and instructions from our research committee. The informed consent page template alone had 11 points to it, and there were over 40 numbered steps and clearances that we had to surmount before being approved. We dove in with aplomb, and got the proposal kicked back to us. Most of all, they were concerned that the video process would endanger student privacy and felt that students were being put at undue risk of unprotected identity (despite an informed consent clause stating that pseudonyms would be used and permission signatures would be obtained).
We were shocked to confront this, mainly because we are pretty sure that we aren’t the first research group to use video (!). After much emailing among our FIN group, we rewrote our proposal, and now, we wait to see what the committee’s response is. Meanwhile, our research hovers in the near future, waiting for the flag to drop so we can speed towards it. If anyone else has had such experiences with their research committee, we’d be interested to know how you dealt with it. FIN would do well to consider this potential snag prior to future inquiry projects so that they can provide the appropriate support to groups to help them get their research off the ground.
STUDENT TEAM DEVELOPMENT:
When first encouraged by the FIN staff to work with students on this project, it seemed to be a logical, if not difficult, choice. Students who live and breathe the lessons that we teach, or attempt to teach, should be both the subjects of our research and our co-pilots. Of course, the actual implementation of a team has become a little more difficult.
Originally, at the core of our project was the idea to tape classes, interviews, and focus groups, each built to inform the next in a spiral-like fashion that sounds much more orderly than the actual process involved. The neatness of the proposal, however, is much more difficult as more minds focus on our question of how storytelling (sharing, writing, speaking, etc.) can impact student motivation and metacognition.
We’ve finally been able to employ two students with a third has decided not to participate. One is a re-entry student who had successfully moved herself up the ladder of English classes and now is taking a critical thinking course in preparation to transfer in the next year or two. The second is a student who has started a film club on campus and is hoping to be a film major at UCLA or SF State.
In organizing this team, I thought it best to bring the team in at ground zero: brainstorming, organizing ideas, matching it to a work plan in the same way that we developed our plan to give them a sense of how we started this project and to get their input on how to move forward. I also met with our Multimedia Studies Dept. Chair who we’ll be working with in the upcoming semesters for sound room/video room time. She also recommended a course or two that students (and teachers) ought to take to familiarize themselves with video making terminology and equipment.
After taping our first focus group and our initial meetings (time sheets, hiring, and other logistics), we decided that we’re going to focus on the students who participated in the focus groups, try to tape more of the lesson plan in Cleavon’s class (if scheduling permits) and roll out an informal interview process on our question.
The students also brought up some great ideas:
- Interview support staff (counselors, EOPS folks, etc.)
- Have our student team interview the FIN teachers (this I think would be great)
- Try to understand not only the intent of our question, but how lessons around storytelling/sharing actually are framed and taught by various teachers (not just FIN teachers).
We just set a schedule to review some tape, do our first interviews, and hopefully everything will start to come together soon.
This is definitely a work-in-progress that’s evolving as we go!
|Scott Albright, Diesel Mechanics instructor and Project Lead||120 hours at $35/hr||$4,200|
|Fred Marks, Automotive Technology instructor||90 hours at $35/hr||$3,150|
|Claudia Abadia, Math instructor||90 hours at $35/hr||$3,150|
|Jane Purinton, Business Instructor||90 hours at $35/hr||$3,150|
|Benefits for faculty||8.0%||$1,092|
|Student Co-Inquirers||FIN provides additional funds||$975|
|Benefits for Students||1.60%||$16|
|Student videographer||Paid through college||$0|
The Faculty Inquiry Network’s (FIN) purpose is to support professional development which includes: conducting faculty inquiry; revisiting basic skills assumptions; interpreting and integrating data; accessing student voices; developing students as co-inquirers; making visible; using technology for teaching and learning; creating and supporting new initiatives, curriculum and program development; constructing educational tools using digital media; and hosting dialogue around student and faculty learning.