Since I was already connected with the University of Indianapolis through teaching, I decided to go to their Institutional Review Board (IRB) office to allow me to conduct my research, since you have to receive IRB approval any time that you conduct research on humans.
They had upgraded their IRB process from a paper version to an internet based version. This made it much easier to understand, because I could follow their online step-by-step process, to ensure that I didn’t miss any steps. But before I could start typing away, I had to develop the methodology of how I would conduct the study (what forms I would use to gather the data–attached below are some examples of forms that could be used for this research project).
First, I had to have a Site Agreement Form. The Site Agreement form is a basic form that the company signs in order to state that they give me consent to conduct the research study. I then drafted an Informed Consent form based off of the Universities template.
With those two big steps down, I then I had to develop the actual forms I would use in order to gather my research. Questionnaires needed to be developed. From what I had learned in my review of the literature, many researchers used a likert-scale (this link connects you to Wikipedia, which may not always be the best source, but for a basic instruction on a Likert scale, it’s a decent tool). The most typical likert scales range between 1 to 5 or 1 to 7 and may say words like strongly disagree, disagree, neutral/middle/don’t lean either direction, agree, strongly agree (1:5 scale).
In this case, I knew from my conversation with the Senior Management that the wanted me to target those preschool teachers who had been working for the company for two years or less, because, according to them, those were the teachers most vulnerable for quitting. So I created a questionnaire that I wanted to hand out to the New Hires. This would be on-going and would be handed out several times during the school year and later used to assess the average scores of those who stayed with the company and those who left. Also, since it’s longitudinal, it will allow me to track the effects of any intervention that the company may employ throughout the school year.
I then developed a one-time questionnaire to hand out to all employees that would show me what all employees, not just new hires, think of the agency. However, because of logistical reasons and time/resource constraints, this would only be given once. These scores would then be correlated with the semi-structured interview questions that I would give to the preschool teachers and to the Center Directors on issues pertaining to teacher retention. The interviews will allow for in-depth understanding of why preschool teachers stay or leave working for the agency, while the questionnaire will provide a view of what all of the teachers think about the agency. I also added in a Demographics Questionnaire so that I knew some background information on the participants, and to help with controls when doing regressions.
Thankfully I had already done a nice literature review, which allowed me to write a section on the contributions my research would provide to the research field.
From talking with the preschool teachers, I learned that anonymity was extremely important for them. After all, no one wanted to lose their job because of participating in a research project. Plus by being anonymous preschool teachers could share their honest feelings more comfortably. Therefore, when writing the IRB approval, I designed everything to be anonymous (by having the participants choose their own ID number, with only myself as knowing the person’s name and their ID number, which is stored separately from my data).
Because everything was anonymous, the IRB allowed me to complete an expedited review. This meant two things–one, it was a lot less work for me, and I won’t need signatures from the preschool teachers on the consent forms and two, within 24 hours I could start gathering my data, because they had approved it so fast! Which was great because the school year had just begun.