So this is what ethics approval looks like in a research project looking at science and creativity

Or at least what it looks like so far.

The ethics approval process was actually quite a bit of work, as it’s more or less a document that fully explains the intent, methology, and all logistical elements of the research. This means, that you pretty much need all of your ducks lined up before you hand the thing in.

UBC has a fairly standard process where you need to submit to a Behavioural Research Ethics Board who then goes through the application in fine detail. Their website is actually excellent in the sense that it’s super details, although that can also be a bit overwhelming if you’re new to the process.

For us, this meant big things like having all of our documentation in order (i.e. various permission letters that would go out to teachers, parents, and students), to seemingly minor but crucial elements like language describing how we plan on collecting and store data (especially sensitive in Canadian research as we must make sure all data is stored within Canada).

It also meant having a good crack at coming up with our survey questions (both questions asked via laptop sessions during the actual fieldtrip, as well as questioning that we would like to present when talking to kids in focus groups scenarios). An important part of this was actually, having language in our ethics approval application that make it clear that there may be several iterations of these questions as the project progresses. This is, after all, an exploratory phase!

In any event, for us, the time for the entire process was about 7 weeks from start to finish. Basically a detailed timeline is as below:

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 10.25.29 AM

Early February: Starting from the first week of February, we essentially had an extended back and forth from our research team (myself, Marie-Claire, Tathali, Janice, and Latika) until we had what look liked a copy that could be submitted. This included having all of the aforementioned documentation ready (permission/consent letter, questions in our surveys, etc), and full disclosure on various logistics (such as data gathering, storing, etc).

March 2, 2015: Submission of the application. Signed off by my Department Head (Dr. Jim Kronstad).

March 10, 2015: Feedback returned with the following provisos:

5.4 Recruitment: Please clarify how classes/teachers will be recruited for focus group follow-up.

8.1 Security of Data: Data should be stored on an encrypted computer. This should also be corrected on the consent form.

9.2 Consent form: Provide a copy of the consent form for the teachers’ participation in the follow-up focus group.

March 17, 2015: Marie-Claire sent back comments (after adjustments were made).

Thank you very much for noting these inconsistencies. We have have addressed the provisos as described below. Please note that as a result of our ongoing discussions we have also revised the questionnaire. It addresses the same themes but is shortened and worded differently. A new file, labelled V2, has been uploaded.

5.4 Recruitment: Please clarify how classes/teachers will be recruited for focus group follow-up.
The following text was added to the application:
“Classes attending the last few sessions of the SCLS field trips will be invited to participate in the focus groups in a convenience sample. Teachers of classes invited to participate in follow-up focus groups will be asked in person by a member of the research team during their visit to the SCLS. If the teacher expresses interest, he or she will be asked to contact the researchers to arrange a time for the research assistants to visit the class. The consent to participate in the focus group (if selected) is already included in the consent form so they will have discussed the possibility with the researchers already. ”

8.1 Security of Data: Data should be stored on an encrypted computer. This should also be corrected on the consent form.
Thank you for noting this oversight. The following text has been added to the application, and the word “encrypted” has been added to the appropriate phrases in the consent forms.
“Data will be entered without any identifying information and all data files will be stored in password protected, encrypted computers. Back up files will be stored in the same office and protected through encryption and password access to files.”

9.2 Consent form: Provide a copy of the consent form for the teachers’ participation in the follow-up focus group.

There are no focus groups for the teachers, only individual interviews completed when the research assistants visit the classes to conduct focus groups with the students. These are described in the submitted consent form.

March 18, 2015: Ethics application approved (yay!)

Anyway, without further ado, here are the actual documents below:

Ethic application document:
ethics application full

Permission/Consent letters:
consent assent for parents and children
IntroNoteParents_SciCreate2015
IntroNoteTeachers_SciCreate2015
invitation letter for children
invitation letter for parents

Survey Questions:
Pre-survey PARTICIPANTS …ence_Questionnaire
Post-survey PARTICIPANTS…ence_Questionnaire
Post-NON-SCLS-questionnaire
Pre-NON-SCLS -questionnaire

SCLS lesson plans for your perusal

O.K. So here we have the documentation for what outreach actually happens during one of these Science Creative Literacy symposia. A lot of these activities have evolved and morphed over the span of the program, but basically you have one science graduate student and one creative writing MFA delivering two activities. The key, of course, is that there is a little bit of blending the two conceptually.

Anyway, below are the various pdfs of the current incarnations of the lesson plans, as well as pdfs of the slides currently used. We don’t have a lot of photos of the children partaking in the activities, because we haven’t been asking for permission to do that, but maybe down the road, we’ll try to get that possibility covered as well.

Oh yeah, and these activities wouldn’t rock the way they do without the teaching prowesses of our grad students. Currently, we have on board the following:

Emily Chou (poet and graphic novelist) – link
Becca Clarkson (writer)
Elaine Corden (writer and editor)
Emmanuel Fonseca (astrophysicist) – link
Stacey Kaser (playwright and screenwriter)
Vivienne Lam (botanist)
Tissa Rahim (neuroscientist)
Marybel Soto Gomez (botanist)
Laura Trethewey (writer and editor) – link

Anyway, pdf lesson plans below!

1. Genomic DNA isolation | Writing a Screenplay | Slides

2. DIY Cloud Chamber | “What is in the jar” poetry | Slides

3. Adaptations and Microscopes | Choose Your Own Adventure | Slides