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Research on Broadening Participation in Computing

Materials for schools participating in research and for other researchers

Activities of the Illinois Computes consortium include an element of research into how to most effectively communicate the importance, excitement, and value of computing careers. The primary form of this research is through anonymous surveys of students, especially after high school classroom visits. Since high school students are typically below the age of 18, such surveys require some form of parental consent and student assent as per Institutional Review Board (IRB) regulations enforced by Illinois Computes member institutions.

Below are materials to facilitate the necessary procedures and to help with reviews by schools/districts with their own IRB. These materials may also help other investigators seeking to conduct similar research.

Letter of Cooperation

For schools at which surveys will be conducted, a letter of cooperation must be signed by the principal or other official with authority in this area. For Chicago Public Schools, the principal should be shown this Research Review Board approval and asked to use this letter of cooperation. For other schools, there are two possible versions here:

(Letter of cooperation templates are in Microsoft Word .doc format; if you would like a different format, let us know.)

Parental Consent Letter

The parental consent letter is to be sent home to a parent/guardian of each student who may participate in the survey. There are again two choices:

  • For schools that do not require active parental consent, i.e., that allow for proceeding as long as parents do not object after being given notice, please use this parental consent letter with simplified procedures.
  • For schools that do require active parental consent, i.e., for parents to return a signed consent form, please use this parent letter with active consent. In this case, students should bring the signed consent form back to school at the time of the Illinois Computes presentation.

Student Assent Form

In many cases, filling out the survey form is sufficient to constitute student agreement to participate, but some schools (e.g., Chicago Public Schools) may require signature of this student assent form; Illinois Computes staff will distribute this with the survey.

Survey Instrument

The survey will be a subset of this full questionnaire; for short in-class presentations, we will generally use this short questionnaire omitting the middle page of the long questionnaire. Illinois Computes staff will distribute the questionnaire.

IRB Application and Responses

Our protocol has been fully approved by the Institutional Review Board of Loyola University Chicago subject to approval of letters of cooperation from participating schools. As a participating school, you should not need to deal with anything in advance except the letter of cooperation and parental consent letter discussed above, unless you have your own research review process. In case it will be helpful for participating schools or other researchers, here are our IRB application and responses:
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