Opting Out of the Research Study Part 1

When I drop off the questionnaires at the different Head Start and Early Head Start schools, I find that the process is semi-quick and mildly easily. I drive to the schools, learn from the secretaries and Center Directors if the teachers are still employed, and then I drop off the questionnaire inside an envelope in the teacher’s classroom; always hand delivering it to the teachers to see if they have any questions or if they still want to participate.

So far, and we are half way done with the school year, only a few people have dropped out of the study. Not too shabby, considering that most of the teachers were afraid of losing their jobs when I talked with them about participating. Of course, once they learned about all of the anonymous steps I took to ensure confidentiality, nearly every New Hire employee agreed to participate.

But now that the research has continued on, a few people have dropped out of the study. Of course this is natural with any human subjects research. In fact, it would be pretty bizarre if a longitudinal research project retained 100% of its participants over a 9 month period. So even though the fact that some teachers have dropped out (possibly adding to the validity of the study, in that, clearly they don’t feel pressure to stay in the study), I can’t help but think what I could have done differently to support them and therefore keep them involved in the study.

I know that if I didn’t step into classrooms and give certain teachers time off to fill out their survey then they would surely have dropped–since clearly they weren’t filling out their survey until someone relieved them from their teaching duties. This was a minority of teachers, but it’s definitely a benefit to keep them in the study, not only to allow for a better understanding of the issues, but also because the sample size is small and every participate’s data counts.

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