GARNET > Sample IRB Forms

Student Release Form Sample


TITLE: GARNET (Geoscience Affective Research Network)





You are invited to be in a research study about how student motivation, attitudes, feelings, emotions, etc. affect learning. Traditionally, teachers worry about what they can do to improve student thinking. More recently, it has been discovered that all these other things (together referred to as the "affective domain") are probably more important. So, we want to collect some data to find out. Our working hypotheses are (1) yes, the affective domain is extremely important, and (2) we (instructors) can do something about it.

This project lasts for three years. During the first year we gathered baseline information. During the second year (this year), we will focus on what seem to be key issues. Finally, depending on our conclusions, we will write papers and present reports at meetings during the third year.

The project is funded by the National Science Foundation.


This research is being conducted simultaneously at over a dozen universities. In all, some 30 classes are involved – most are introductory geology classes – and more than 5,000 students. The project coordinator is Dr. David McConnell at North Carolina State University. Here at UND, the project involves classes taught by four geology professors: Dexter Perkins, Nels Forsman, Jaakko Putkonen, and Ron Matheney.


Federal law requires that we explain this project and get your consent before you participate in this research. This is because some classroom research may involve sensitive information that students would prefer not to divulge. We don't think that is a real consideration for this study, but we must comply with the regulations anyway. So, please take your time in making your decision as to whether to participate. You may take part in this study, or not, with no penalty. If you have questions at any time, just ask.


We are not asking you to do a great deal. All students – whether they choose to take part in this study or not – in participating classes will be assigned homework to answer about 15 multiple-choice questions concerning knowledge of geology (this will happen twice during the semester), and to complete two questionnaires. One questionnaire is a short (20 minute, 81 question) web form to fill out at the beginning of the semester, and then again at the end of the semester. The other web questionnaire only needs to be completed once. It contains about a dozen additional questions relating to your reasons for taking this course and your learning style.

These questionnaires and homework are designed to help you become more aware of your learning style and to become better learners. After completing the questionnaires, you will get immediate feedback that you may find useful during the semester. The feedback will be in the form of suggestions for things you may wish to consider as you study and do other things for this class.

If you choose to participate in our study, it means that you agree to let us use your responses to the multiple-choice questions and web surveys as part of our project. Once the results from the surveys are combined, we will assign a random ID number to all individuals who have given consent to participate. We will then send those names and ID numbers to UND's Office of Institutional Research. They will look up the GPAs and ACT and SAT scores for all participants and give us a list, but no one will be identified by name. The information will be attributed to the random ID number, and only the Office of Institutional Research will know which names match which numbers.

The original survey results from all participating classes at all universities will be stored and will be kept private (in a database at the University of North Dakota) to the extent permitted by law. The results, with names removed, will also be made available to others participating in this project, including several faculty at UND and about 15 faculty at a dozen other universities or colleges. In any report about this study that might be published, you will not be identified.

That's it. You will be volunteering your time for what we believe is an important project.


There are no foreseeable risks associated with this study. The survey questions are not particularly intrusive.

The survey results and personal information about you will all be anonymous. We will not be able to match the information to any individuals, nor will anyone else except the folks in the Office of Institutional Research, and they already have access to personal information about you.


We think this study may benefit you immediately by making you more aware of the sorts of things that affect your learning.

In the short term this study will also help us (the instructors) because it will help us make changes to improve our instruction.

In the long term, we hope that what we discover will eventually help improve teaching and learning in many university classrooms besides our own.


If you have questions regarding your rights as a research subject, or if you have any concerns or complaints about the research, you may contact the Institutional Review Board at [your phone number here]. Please call this number if you cannot reach research staff, or you wish to talk with someone else.

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