Running a research study in the classroom: week 6 report

We're now at the end of week 6, and things are ramping up and progressing well, though we hit a couple of small snags along the way.

IRB snag

First was the IRB, which was due to my own stupid fault. My students did their part and got their IRB training done on time, and I should've immediately submitted the modification to add them as co-investigators. But I got caught up in other things, forgot, and then when I went to do so, learned from the IRB staff that half of them had done the wrong training. It turns out that there are RCR and HSR courses, both of which have the words "social behavioural" in the title, and are similarly named. As a result, when I was checking that they completed the IRB protocol, I wasn't paying close enough attention, and told them they had completed it, but in fact half of them hadn't. So we had to delay recruitment until everyone completed it.

Equipment snag

The second snag was also my own stupid fault. The department kindly purchased a Zoom H4n PRO field recorder for this class, and did so through Amazon. When the department manager first asked me which one to buy, she sent me a link with the correct recorder, but it also had a ton of extras that I wouldn't need. In my attempt to be considerate and not spend money unnecessarily, I found a version that didn't have all those extras, and was cheaper. Well, it turns out that the one I ordered doesn't even come with an AC cord or USB cable for file transfers, so we had to order that separately! Luckily those arrived just a couple of hours before our first recording, but I was not looking forward to spending an arm and a leg on batteries! Anyway, moral of the storal is that I shouldn't have tried to nickel-and-dime some savings, particularly when this kind of money is really like pocket change for the department.

Participant recruitment

The initial plan was to require each student to announce the class in a class they are enrolled in, but I decided to relax the requirement, since several students pointed out they had friends that would be happy to come in and participate. I made sure that they knew they couldn't not ask or solicit any student who they have power over, whether that's as an RA, a TA, a grader, etc. The main reason for relaxing this requirement was scheduling: already we have the challenge of getting 14 students to record 28 speakers with just one recording device, why add the additional complication of having students coordinate schedules with strangers if they can more easily schedule with people they already know?

Seth saves the day

The original deadline for recordings to be done was initially today, February 22, but I had already anticipated extending it by a week, though I feared even that would be ambitious. The reason is that, without a lab or a room where I can lock the recording equipment and experiment binder, we had an additional scheduling challenge that I had to be physically in my office at the beginning and end of any recording session. Not only that, but most of the students were trying to use the seminar room when it was unoccupied, and that added yet another scheduling challenge. Luckily for us, Seth Wiener has generously offered us his lab space for the week, which means that my students can schedule participants in the evenings and weekends, when they are most available, and I am least available.

So that's about it. Students have started recording participants, and we're on track to being done in a week. I'll be doing a segmentation lab with the students at the end of next week, teaching them how to run scripts, and they've got a segmentation deadline in about 3 weeks. I'll update then with how participant recruitment and recording went.

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