RESEARCH IN SCHOOLS AND BY THE DISTRICT
The District supports evidence-based practice and values the generation of new knowledge to improve teaching and learning through application of lessons garnered from rigorous and methodologically sound formal research. One way to advance knowledge and practice is to have research undertaken directly in the District when that research can be of direct benefit to students. Another way is to utilize the resources of the District to solicit feedback in ways that will inform District decisions and professional practices. This Administrative Procedure addresses both of those priorities.
Further, the District supports formal research being undertaken in the District when that research is affiliated with a bona fide post-secondary institute, the research has been granted ethics approval by that institute, the research activities themselves will have little or no impact on teaching and learning and the outcomes of the research hold promise for direct benefit to teaching and learning in the District. The District also supports feedback being solicited from school and community partners in ways that capture a wide range of diverse perspectives and enhance decision-making by the District and administrative staff.
Research will be defined as data-based investigation using rigorous, systematic and objective methodologies to obtain reliable and valid knowledge. Feedback will be defined as information gathered through surveys, interviews and interactions with schools and the broader community.
- Formal Research
- The District supports formal research that is connected to post-secondary institutions and that will benefit students and the District, either directly or indirectly.
- Research undertaken in the District will be supported when it includes:
- Formal support from a post-secondary institution;
- Systematic design and process;
- Freedom from bias;
- Methods appropriate to the question posed;
- Ethics approval; and
- Interpretation consistent with findings.
- Acceptable research activities will include the use of surveys, interviews, questionnaires and observations that do not interfere with teaching and learning.
- In addition to having been addressed as part of an ethics review, participation by adults must be with their informed consent, and participation by students must be with their and their parents informed consent.
- Any research undertaken in the District must have been approved by the Director of Instruction, Learning and Innovation in keeping with this Administrative Procedure.
- Preference will be given to research initiatives requested by District personnel. These may include individual, school-based or District priorities.
- All requests to conduct research will be directed to the Director of Instruction, Learning and Innovation. When a request is received the proponent will be required to complete a Request for Research (Form 290-1).
- All research approvals will be in keeping with this Administrative Procedure.
- Consideration for approvals will be based on satisfactory adherence to:
- The proposal meeting all ethical standards established by the post-secondary institution;
- The results being of potential benefit to the District;
- Participation by subjects being voluntary and with informed consent, including informed consent of parents where students are involved;
- Privacy and confidentiality considerations being addressed, including anonymity of participants and protection, storage and disposal of research material as it relates to privacy;
- The proposal having the approval of the Principal of any involved school;
- There being acceptable time requirements for involvement of staff and students; and
- If the researcher is a District employee, the research being conducted without affecting the employee carrying out his or her duties.
- Informed consent for participating staff members or parents on behalf of children will be by signature on a form that describes the research proposal in full, including the purpose and plan for the research as well as an explanation of any implications that the proposed research would have on the learning environment and the well-being of any children who will be involved, whether directly or peripherally.
- Results of research carried out in the District will be provided in a timely manner to the Director of Instruction, Learning and Innovation, will be shared with the Superintendent and the Board as appropriate, and will be shared with participants upon request. Privacy and confidentiality will be of paramount concern in the sharing of results.
- Any researcher, or individual associated with the research, who is expected to be in direct contact with children must have completed a satisfactory criminal record check (at his or her own expense) prior to having access to children. Such access must be in the company of a staff member or parent.
- Solicitation and Use of Feedback for Decision Making
- The District believes that effective solicitation and use of feedback is an important element of decision making. Feedback will be solicited at opportune times as determined by executive staff, or as required by procedure or statute.
- The District’s expectation is that feedback will be gathered based on:
- Well considered questions or options being shared;
- Clear explanations of what is being asked and why;
- A wide range of people with diverse perspectives being asked to respond; and
- A thorough and effective methodology being employed to summarize responses.
- The District supports feedback being gathered through means that include, but are not limited to, surveys, interviews, community forum events and online response tools.
- The District expects that when feedback is solicited and gathered, a wide range of diverse perspectives will be sought and consolidated, with particular efforts made to solicit responses from people not normally engaged with the everyday life of schools. Where appropriate, that includes people not directly connected to the school system.
- Notice of the District’s request for feedback will be provided through normal means including website notices, and efforts will be made to reach people through non-electronic means such as paper notices or personal contact.
- In solicitation of feedback, efforts will be made to involve a wide range and diversity of respondents. Where possible, analysis of responses will include delineation among types of respondents (for example, students, parents, staff).
- Where choice-response surveys are used, attention will be paid to privacy, including not being able to identify respondent’s private information.
- Where open-ended response surveys or interviews are used, the instrument will make clear the issue for which feedback is being solicited, and how the results of the survey or interview will be used. The same privacy provisions will apply as with choice-response surveys.
- From time to time, community forum events will be held in order to gather feedback for important decisions to be made by the District or senior staff. Forum events will be planned and hosted by senior staff or, in cases of school-based initiatives, school administration. Every effort will be made to involve a wide range of perspectives through involvement of a diverse group of participants. It is expected that the forum will be well organized and hosted with clarity of purpose and process, and that data will be gathered in ways that will allow for effective generation of themes and answers.
- Regardless of the mechanism used to solicit and gather feedback, it is expected that analyses of information will be thorough and in keeping with data as received. It is further expected that analysis will be triangulated through review by others with a range of different perspectives.
- Results of surveys, interviews, forum events or other feedback mechanisms will be collated for and shared in ways that will support evidence-based decision making.