IRB Proposal


Restructuring Learning Spaces with Interactive Technology and Transformative Pedagogy

Roland Lucas

CUNY Graduate Center

Answers to IRB Questions


Part III. Protocol Description


III-1. State the purpose of the research.


Include major hypotheses and research design. If the study is part of a larger study, briefly describe that larger study and indicate whether it has received IRB approval from another institution.



The purpose of this research is to extend the existing body of knowledge on effective utilization of interactive technologies and math programs in public high school mathematics classes. It will also serve as a basis for ongoing development of teaching practices that improve student competencies and success in mathematics. The major hypothesis for this research is that high school mathematic students in urban public schools, who are provided interactive technology resources during the normal course work, will experience enhanced learning of mathematics, as well as increases in positive dispositions indicative of their identity development as competent doers of math. Some interactive technologies include: Moodle, Google documents and websites, Power Point, Excel, Maple 15. Another major hypothesis of this study is that through focusing on solving and sharing solution to problems that relate to the life world of students, that students will experience an increase in the levels of solidarity with participants of the course. This will have a positive impact of the learning experiences and performance measures for students in mathematics. Students will also develop an increased value of using their developing competencies with interactive technologies with the mathematics, to analyze issues relevant to their communities that can be modeled with the math they learn. They will see the mathematics then as more relevant to them, and become more engaged with the subject.

The research design is an ethnographic / phenomenological study of evolving attitudes and practices of students as they are engaged with math problem solving using interactive technologies. Students will not be asked to produce any data solely for the purposes of the research. All activities that students do, and all data that will inform the research, will emerge from best teaching practices that are supported by the chief school administrator and that are in agreement with national core state standards. All the methods and strategies employed in this study are ones that I have used over the past six years in my role as a highly qualified math teacher in Newark public schools. Similar IRB approvals have been granted to researchers associated with the CUNY graduate center’s science, math and learning sciences specialty of the Urban Education Department.


III-2. Summary of the research plan:


The research plan is that … Using non-technical language, provide a summary of the research plan in 500 words or less.


During the normal course of my teaching high school mathematics in a Newark public high school, students will relate the skills being taught to real-life scenarios that they identify as existing in their communities. Students will be asked to demonstrate mastery of content skills taught, through their problem solving in the context of these scenarios. Students are also given the option to select problems that don’t relate to their communities, but rather have to do with their career interests.  Students will make use of interactive technology resources throughout the problem solving process. The products of this work (i.e. student developed models with determined solution sets) will be captured in electronic form where possible.  This can be done through computer applications such as in word documents, Power Point presentations, worksheets generated using Excel, calculator, Maple 15, or Geometer’s Sketch Pad, for example. These products will be shared and discussed with stakeholders, such as in teachers, other students and parents. Printouts would be posted on school bulletin boards, along with other exemplary work done by them. The products of student work may be stored in the school’s Moodle repository (content management system), or in shared folders in Google Documents, or in student’s Google Website accounts that are managed by school administrators. The Google Websites can only be viewed by accounts that are associated with the school district. Discourse analysis will be performed on the products produced and will be part of the study. Student identifier information contained in files will not be included in the student.

Students will be asked survey questions about their experience doing this work, as well as questions regarding their attitudes and goals with respect to mathematics.  Answers will be created in school’s Moodle and stored there. The school’s Moodle is a secured site, accessible only to users who are granted access by school personnel. Student responses are not part of their grades for the course. The responses will be submitted anonymously so that students will not feel pressured to respond one way or another.  Students can opt out from answering any of the survey questions. Their responses are the heart of the study. Student responses will be analyzed using discourse analysis procedures, to ascertain if students are developing positive attitudes and competencies as doers of mathematics for their own benefit and for the benefit of their communities.

As the principle investigator, I will take field notes during the research period. I will interpret student dialogue and activity as another data source. The names of these students will not be used in my research.  The students will be assigned pseudo names in my field notes and research documents.  My field notes will be taken when classes are not in session, so that this activity will not impact the normal course of my teaching. The findings of my dialogue analysis performed against all forms of data will be shared with any stakeholder who expresses interest in knowing the results.  There may be whole class discussions on the findings of this research, as a means checking if members feel the results represent their work adequately. My finding will be included in my dissertation.


III-3. Detailed non-technical research plan:


Describe the proposed research plan. Include sufficient detail for the IRB members to clearly understand the procedures involved, the recruitment and consenting of participants, the risks and benefits involved, etc. Describe the data collection procedure below.

Students, who I’ve taught high school mathematics over the past 2 years at my current public high school of employment, have already done the kind of work that I’ve described for this study. I would have my current and future students do this kind of work even if this study were not to take place. There is no risk to students as a result of engaging in the activities that I will examine for this study. If students prefer not to do projects that relate to community, they have the option to do projects on their career interests instead. The below is a description of a project that I’ve already done multiple times with my students, and that would be typical of the kind of student work that will be studied in this research.

4th Marking Period Project – Using a quadratic function to Model a real-life scenario”

Project requirements:

1) Find a word problem in chapter 4 of the course text that can be modeled and solved using a quadratic function.

2) Solve the problem completely as is.

3) Modify the problem to relate to your community or career interests in some significant way.

4) No two people can work on the same problem, so reserve your problem.

5) You may create your community or career related problem from scratch if you want.

6) Describe your original problem in the Moodle Forum discussion topic Titled, “4th Marking Period Project”.

7) Explain in Moodle discussion topic you created how you modified an existing problem to relate to your community or career interests.

8) Reply to 3 other project descriptions in the Moodle Forum with your feedback on how problem relates to community.

9) Explain the meaning of the vertex and the function intercepts of your problem.

10) Incorporate Excel (i.e. formulas and graphs), Maple, and/or any other appropriate technology to solve and present your problem.

11) Place all the electronic files of your work in a folder on Google Documents that you have shared with me (teacher).

12) You may share your work with any one you decide.

The following are some questions I’ve asked students to respond to within the course Moodle forum at various stages of their math course:

  • What is a problem solver?
  • Identify a problem / issue in your community that can be modeled by a math function.
  • What is the usefulness of doing projects related to community?
  • What do you think you want to major at in college? What is your career choice?  How can proficiency in math help in those areas?
  • Describe your experience with co-teaching.
  • Describe how you think others are experiencing co-teaching.
  • Get opinion of community members on the issue you selected to do a math project on.
  • Describe your current attitude towards math.
  • Describe a past experience with math that helps explain your current attitude towards math.
  • Describe how your attitudes towards math may have changed over the course of this school year to this point.

Students will create the descriptions of and solutions to their problem on the school Moodle, in Maple 15 or in Google Documents. All products produced can be shared with teachers and students in the school, once students submit them.

Typically I will ask students to dialogue with each other and other stakeholders about the problem scenario that they are investigating and any solutions that they have discovered. Students will be invited to modify solutions to their problems based on feedback given by others. I will ask students to record or transcribe this dialogue in the school’s Moodle. This dialogue will be used as input data for my study. Students also will be invited to discuss their opinions of this approach to problem solving that references issues encountered in their life world. These voluntary conferences will be held in groups led by fellow students. Representatives of these groups will be invited to share ideas and conclusions discussed, with the whole class. This form of dialogue will typically occur during class time for about 20 minutes.

If a student does not wish to participate in a class conference, then they are allowed to do other class work during that time. The results of this dialogue will be used as a basis by all participants in the course for improving the practice of integrating technology in the classroom. The results may also be used as primary data in my research field notes and integrated into my dissertation. I will perform discourse analysis over this data and draw conclusions about the levels of meaning making, authorial knowledge construction, and solidarity of students in their problem solving endeavors.

III-4. If you are using vulnerable population(s), specify the methods to be used to protect the rights and welfare of any vulnerable subjects. Address issues regarding recruitment, coercion, informed consent and assent.

Students will be asked to answer questions about their math experiences, and submit their responses anonymously on the course Moodle. The course Moodle will be accessible only to those who have a course key provided by me. Moodle allows for anonymous submission of survey responses. I will only use anonymous surveys. Responses to every question will be optional, and will not be factored into student grades. Students will be asked survey questions over throughout the duration of the study. Since NO student identifier that associates student responses with the student will be captured or otherwise used in this study, there is no risk of students feeling pressured to answer one way or another to survey questions. There is no risk of exposure of student’s answers since responses will be submitted anonymously, unless the student decides to share them in normal class discussions with others. Student responses will be analyzed using discourse analysis methods. All students will be made aware that I am studying the impact of doing this kind of work that relates math content to student lived experiences.  When peer-conferencing and sharing of findings with the whole class occurs, students will be given the choice to opt out, and do other work. No student is required to participate during that 20-minute period of dialogue about practices of integrating technology in the course.

Where I perform discourse analysis and report findings using student-produced data such as electronic files, or using field notes that I create after classes, I will not use student identifier information (i.e. file names that may have student names embedded in them). Where necessary I will use pseudo names in place of actual names. Based on my discourse analysis I will draw conclusions as to whether or not students express a marked development of their competencies and identities as doers of mathematics.  I will also draw conclusions about the development of their identities as doers of mathematics on the behalf of their communities. Students will be made aware of my findings after the formal course is completed. Their interpretations of my findings will be welcomed and incorporated into my dissertation.

Students will be given a parental permission form for their parents to sign to use student responses and produced work in the research, even though personal student identifier information will ever be used in this research. My research will involve no deceptive practices of any type, and I will make full disclosure, to all study participants and their parents/guardians, of my dissertation goals and interests.


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