All members of the research team are appropriately qualified and supervised and all of our research is approved by the University Ethics Committee. Once a school has agreed to host our research, we then invite parents to consider whether they would like their child to participate.
We do this by sending a Participant Information Sheet, usually via your child's school. It gives all the details about what the research is, why we are doing it and what it will involve. Sometimes you will be asked to return a form if you would rather your child didn't participate. You do not have to give a reason and your child's education will not suffer in anyway if they do not take part. Sometimes we ask that you return a form to indicate that you would like your child to take part. You are very welcome to get in touch to discuss any aspect of the research at anytime.
Once we're ready to make a start, we liaise closely with your child's class teacher to make sure we fit around classroom activities. We usually work in a quiet corner or a separate room, if one is available. The children usually take part individually. First of all we explain a little bit about who we are and what we are researching. We assign the child a unique ID number: no confidential or personal information is stored that can be connected to your child.
Depending on the experiment, they might either take part in a word decision game, where words flash up on a laptop screen and they have to press a button as quickly as possible if it is a word they recognise. Or they might read some stories which have new words embedded in them. Sometimes we use an eye tracker which is a camera, attached to a computer, which measures a child's eye movements as they read. The child rests their chin on a comfortable chin rest to keep their head still and then reads normally from the computer screen, as described here. A session usually lasts for no longer than 20-30 minutes. Sometimes we ask to see your child more than once so we can see how many words they can remember after a day or two. We might ask them to read some words on flashcards, or ask a child to spell some new words, or ask them to tell us what they think a new word might mean. The sessions are very relaxed. Our research is designed to be child-friendly and fun, not a strict assessment or formal text. The children get lots of opportunities to take breaks and chat. At the end we usually give some stickers or a certificate to say thank you. We also give an explanation of what our research was all about.
When we have finished seeing all of the children at a school, its back to ReadOxford where we can discover what we have found. We prepare a summary of the key findings and share this with your child's school - and results will be posted here in due course. We never share the results for individual children and all data are stored anonymously.