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Finding participants for a study

As you develop your literature review for Unit I, you’ll also need to begin searching for possible participants for your study. Consider the following (Click the up/down arrow to the left of each question for more information):

  • Do you need any special permissions? Consider any informed consent forms for institutions, schools, businesses, teachers, students, etc. In the case of children and perhaps those with learning disabilities, permissions may be needed from their parents or guardians.
  • Is it possible to record your observations? Observations are one kind of evidence that you will need to collect during your data collection process (Unit II). When observing a live class or any live phenomenon, you will need to record the situation, class, etc. to properly analyze your data. Avoid reporting any observations that you were not able to analyze from either an audio or video recording. Choosing between an audio and video recording will depend on what it is you are analyzing. When researching non-verbal communication in the classroom, for example, a video recording is the only option. Discuss with your tutoring if it is not clear whether an audio or video recording is appropriate. Observations are necessary when combining other sources of evidence like interviews, focus groups, document analysis, surveys/questionnaires, etc.). The combining of data sources is called triangulation.
  • Have you found extra participants should any back out at the last minute? Better to have available participants and not need them than need them and not have them. Have a Plan B (contingency play) just in case something unexpected should occur. Simply thank those participants for agreeing to participate, and that you’ll be contacting them if you need them.
  • Will you need to do an intervention? Ideally, the participants of your study, teachers for example, will already have a teaching practice that is what you want to observe. But there are cases when this does not happen. Perhaps the teacher is not creating the classroom environment needed for you to observe necessary aspects that answer your research questions. In these situations, an intervention is necessary. An intervention is when you, the researcher, works with the participants (e.g., teachers) to suggest or recommend certain technologies, materials, etc. that align with what you need to observe. When doing an intervention, work closely with your tutor to find the best way to employ an intervention so not to influence the study any more than necessary.
  • Are your participants able and willing to take part in an intervention? When your participants are teachers, make sure from the beginning they are willing and able to take part in an intervention, even if you decide later that one is not required. Make sure the school, institution, or business allows the flexibility necessary for a teacher to take part in an intervention as well.