Project Title:     Middle School Students’ Intuitive Techniques for Solving Algebraic Word Problems



I am being asked to read the following material to ensure that I am informed of the nature of this research study and of how my child will participate in it, if I consent for him/her to do so.  Signing this form will indicate that I have been so informed and that I give my consent.  Federal regulations require written informed consent prior to participation in this research study so that I can know the nature and risks of my child’s participation and can allow him/her to participate or not participate in a free and informed manner.



My child is being invited to participate voluntarily in the above-titled research project.  The purpose of the project is to study how middle school students utilize algebra in solving word problems.  Are students intuitively drawn to algebraic methods, or do their approaches differ from these commonly emphasized techniques?  This study will provide insights into middle school students’ grasp of variables and their ability to develop equations with or without previous formal algebraic experience.  It will also reveal which techniques are more intuitive to a student and might indicate ways to present algebraic methods that build upon these skills. 



My child is being invited to participate because he/she is in 6th grade and has had no formal algebraic instruction, or he/she is in 8th grade and has had formal algebraic instruction.  Approximately 10 local children will be enrolled in this study from the 6th and 8th grades from the XXXXX School District.



If I agree to allow my child to be in this study, his/her participation will involve the following:


      The investigator will meet with each student individually in a quiet room in a random order.  First, my child will be asked a few questions regarding his/her previous mathematical experience, favorite and least favorite mathematical topics, etc.  Several word problems will be typed on sheets of paper for him/her to work on, with one on each sheet.  Tiles, rulers, graphing paper, a calculator, and other problem solving tools will be available to him/her on the table.  The investigator will first let each student know that they are not required to complete the problems if they do not want to or are unable to finish, and they will not be graded.  My child is free to quit at any point during the problem-solving session.  He/she may use any of the tools on the table to help in solving the problem.  The investigator will then give my child the first problem to read and will answer any questions to clarify the problem.  When my child understands the problem, he/she will work on the solution alone.  The investigator will observe how my child sets up and finds the solution to the problem, paying close attention to the tools utilized.  When the problem is completed or my child decides that he/she is finished, the investigator will ask him/her to explain his/her problem solving strategies, elaborating on what he/she is doing at each step and why each method was chosen.  This process will be repeated for a total of three word problems.  Each student in the study will receive identical problems in the same order.  The entire problem-solving session should take approximately 20 minutes and will be recorded on audiotape to aid in collecting data.  There is a possibility that this data will be used in a future publication, but my child’s name, school, and district will remain confidential.



There is minimal risk due to the possibility that my child may feel nervous or uneasy when doing mathematics.



There is no direct benefit from my child’s participation.



No students will be identified by name or school.  My child will be assigned a false name that will be used to identify them throughout the documentation.  Only the principal investigators Michelle Roehler, a mathematics major at the University of Arizona, and Dr. Virginia Horak will have access to any data collected.



There is no cost to me or my child for participating except our time (approximately 20 minutes for my child).  Steps will be taken to ensure that my child does not miss valuable class time.  Neither my child nor I will be compensated for my child’s participation.



I can obtain further information from the principal investigators Michelle Roehler, an undergraduate mathematics student, or Virginia Horak, Ph.D., at (520) 626-5987. If I have questions concerning my child’s rights as a research subject, I may call the Human Subjects Committee office at (520) 626-6721.



This project has been approved by the XXXXX School District.



Before giving my consent by signing this form, the methods, inconveniences, risks, and benefits have been explained to me and my questions have been answered.  I may ask questions at any time and I am free to withdraw my child from the project at any time without causing bad feelings.  My child’s participation in this project may be ended by the investigator or by the sponsor for reasons that would be explained.  New information developed during the course of this study which may affect either my willingness or that of my child to continue in this research project will be given to me as it becomes available.  This consent form will be filed in an area designated by the Human Subjects Committee with access restricted to the principal investigators, Michelle Roehler and Dr. Virginia Horak, or authorized representative of the Mathematics department.  I do not give up any of my or my child’s legal rights by signing this form.  A copy of this signed consent form will be given to me.




Student's Name


____________________________________                                               ______________________________

Parent/Legal Guardian                                                                                       Date



I have carefully explained to the subject the nature of the above project. I hereby certify that to the best of my knowledge the person who is signing this consent form understands clearly the nature, demands, benefits, and risks involved in his/her participation and his/her signature is legally valid. A medical problem or language or educational barrier has not precluded this understanding.


____________________________________                                               ______________________________

Signature of Investigator                                                                                    Date