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PURPOSE AND BACKGROUND

Ali Abedi, PhD candidate, in the Department of Graduate Education at Northwest Nazarene University is conducting a research study to investigate factors common in successful online courses. This research seeks to answer this question by comparing the performance of an online class built from scratch based on the Connectivist Learning Theory and an online class not built on the basis of this theory as well as having students of the two classes take two online courses as well as completing the pre-class and end-of-class technical aptitude tests.

We appreciate your involvement in helping us investigate how to create more effective and successful online courses for students.

You are being asked to participate in this study because you are a healthy volunteer, over the age of 18.

PROCEDURES

If you agree to be in the study, the following will occur:

  • You will be asked to sign an Informed Consent Form, volunteering to participate in the study.

  • You will be asked to answer questions related to demographics. This should take approximately 5 minutes to complete. This short questionnaire will determine if you qualify for participating in this study.

  • On the basis of the demographics questionnaire filled (if you qualify for taking the online class), you will be assigned to the online class of "High Performance Excel - Tips and Tricks for Busy Professionals". The duration of the class is three weeks.

  • You will take a pre-course assessment test. This will take about 15-20 minutes. At the completion of this test your enrollment in to the online course of "High Performance Excel - Tips and Tricks for Busy Professionals" will begin.

  • At the end of the online course, you will take a post-completion assessment test/final course exam. This will take about 20-30 minutes.

These procedures will be competed over the duration of the online Microsoft Excel education course of "High Performance Excel - Tips and Tricks for Busy Professionals" offered to you for free. The duration of the study will be four weeks. The first three weeks will be for the online Excel class itself, and the fourth weeks will be for taking the course final exam.


RISKS/DISCOMFORTS

  1. If any part of this process makes you uncomfortable, you are free to decline to answer any questions you do not wish to answer or to stop participation at any time.

  2. For the research project, the researchers are requesting demographic information. Due to the makeup of the greater metro Washington DC area population, the combined answers to these questions may make an individual person identifiable. The researcher will make every effort to protect your confidentiality. However, if you are uncomfortable answering any of these questions, you may leave them blank.

  3. Confidentiality: Participation in research may involve a loss of privacy; however, your records will be handled as confidentially as possible. No individual identities will be used in any reports or publications that may result from this study. All data from notes, audio tapes, and flash drives will be kept in a locked d file cabinet and the key will be kept in a separate location. In compliance with the Federal-wide Assurance Code, data from this study will be kept for three years, after which all data from the study will be destroyed (45 CFR 46,117).



Data Collection Method

The data collection, instruction in the online classes offered for this study, managing and grading the course assessments, access to classes statistics such as student participation, and grades are performed by a person other than the researcher himself and the data shared with the researcher will be scrubbed of any participant identifying information such as names, student ids, nick name used in the class discussions, student name used in assignments and class discussions, and any other identifying information. Participant names and IDs will be replaced by pseudo names and numbers against a master list before being handed to the study's researcher. The study is administered, managed, and monitored by a third party that has signed a non-confidentiality agreement, and the researcher will never have access to the participants' identity or interact with them directly throughout this study.

The only individual that knows your true identity is the course instructor, and the course instructor works on behalf of a third party company hired by the researcher to perform this study's data collection. The researcher and the instructor do not interact directly, and the researcher is not provided with any data that includes student names and information.

  • BENEFITS

    There will be no direct financial payment to you from participating in this study. However, the information you provide may help educators to better understand the factors leading to a successful online course.

  • PAYMENTS

    There are no payments for participating in this study. However, those who complete the online course of "High Performance Excel - Tips and Tricks for Busy Professionals" will be provided with a coupon to take the PMP Preparation Course with Simpetopia, and additionally will be entered in a draw to win a Flip Video Camcorder (in addition to coupon for the free Preparation for the PMP online course).

  • QUESTIONS

    If you have questions or concerns about participation in this study, you should first talk with the investigator. Ali Abedi can be contacted via email at aabedi@nnu.edu, via telephone at 804-549-6145(C) or Dr. Lori Werth, Faculty Advisor at LWerth@nnu.edu.

    Should you feel distressed due to participation in this, you should contact your own health care provider.

  • CONSENT

    You will be given a copy of this consent form to keep.

    PARTICIPATION IN RESEARCH IS VOLUNTARY. You are free to decline to be in this study, or to withdraw from it at any point. Your decision as to whether or not to participate in this study will have not influence on your present or future status.

    I give my consent to participate in this study:

    
    BY CLICKING ON THE BUTTON IN THE 
    FORM YOU ARE GIVING YOUR CONSENT 
    TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS STUDY				              Date Captured by Computer	
    Signature of Study Participant							         Date
    
    PRINCIPAL RESEARCHER - ALI ABEDI, PhD Candidate
    Northwest Nazarene University (NNU.EDU)			              Date Captured by Computer
    Signature of Person Obtaining Consent						         Date
    
    

    THE NORTHWEST NAZARENE UNIVERSITY HUMAN RESEARCH REVIEW COMMITTE HAS REVIEWED THIS PROJECT FOR THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN PARTICIPANTS IN RESEARCH.


    This study is being conducted by Ali Abedi PhD candidate, in the Department of Graduate Education at Northwest Nazarene University to investigate factors common in successful online courses. This research seeks to answer this question by comparing the performance of an online course based on the study's theoretical framework of Connectivist Learning and a conventional online course. We appreciate your involvement in helping us investigate how to create more effective and successful online courses for students.

    Description of the survey procedures and approximate duration of the study:

    I would greatly appreciate your completing the demographic questionnaire given in the link below. Since the validity of the results depend on obtaining a high response rate, your participation is very crucial to the success of this study. Your inputs to this study will be as following:

    • The following pre-qualifying demographic questionnaire to determine your eligibility for the study.

    • A pre-course Excel aptitude test, so that at the end of the course it can be determined if the course has been successful in improving your level of expertise with Excel.

    • The assignments and activities typical of an online course (accessing the course content, participation in the discussion board, and the weekly quizzes).

    • A post-completion course Excel aptitude test (i.e., the course final exam).

    This data collection process will take approximately four weeks to complete, of which three weeks is for the online course of "High Performance Excel - Tips and Tricks for Busy Professionals", and the remaining one week is for the final course exam.

    Description of how confidentiality will be assured and the limits to these assurances, if any.

    Your return of the signed consent form placed in the consent link indicates your consent to participate in this study. Please be assured that your responses will be held in the strictest confidence, and a multi-layer structure has been implemented so that the researcher won't have visibility to participants' identities, and the course instructor works under strict control of a third party company, with both the instructor and the third party company signed separate non-confidentiality agreements. As soon as I receive the data scrubbed off personal data from the completed course (which has any identifiable information removed from it before hand and replaced with pseudo names), all data from this study will be (stored for the length of three years in a physical disk drive with a password not disclosed to the holder of the disk drive, and physically destroyed after three years. If the results of this study were to be written for publication, or any future research activity, no identifying information will be used.

    Anticipated benefits resulting from this study.

    The potential benefits to you from participating in the study are:

    • Taking the "High Performance Excel - Tips and Tricks for Busy Professionals" course. This is a short professional course put together by the researcher of this study, who has more than 20 years of experience using Microsoft Excel in various industries. This course will enable you to use Excel at a higher level of efficiency both in your personal and professional life.

    • Should you complete the course and its final exam, you will be issued a coupon code for a free admission to 30-day online PMP Preparation Course. This course satisfies the PMP exam's official project management training requirement. -Note this course will not include printed material such as a book, or posters.

    • Should you complete the course and its final exam , you will be entered in to a draw to win a Flip Video Camcorder.

    Contact information.

    
    If you have any questions about this study, you can contact the person(s) below:
    Name of Principal Investigator			Name of Supervisor: 
    --------------------------------------      ----------------------------
    Ali Abedi, PhD Candidate		   Dr. Loredana Werth
    Northwest Nazarene University		   Northwest Nazarene University
    Department of Graduate Education	   Department of Graduate Education
    
    623 South University Boulevard,			623 South University Boulevard,
    Nampa, ID 83686					Nampa, ID 83686
    (804) 549-6145					(208) 467-8062
    aabedi@nnu.edu					lwerth@nnu.edu
    
    

    This study has been reviewed and approved by Northwest Nazarene University Human Research Review Committee (HRRC). The HRRC has determined that this study meets the ethical obligations required by federal law and University policies.If you have questions or concerns regarding this study please contact the Investigator or Advisor. If you have any questions regarding your rights as a research subject, please contact Ali Abedi at (804) 549-6145.

    I hope that you will be able to participate in this study.

    Sincerely,

    Ali Abedi, PhD Candidate
    Northern Nazarene University

  • I agree with the terms and conditions of the course