Elizabeth Autio on Recruiting Teachers for Your Education Study

My name is Elizabeth Autio and I am an associate at Education Northwest, a non-profit organization serving educators through research, evaluation, and technical assistance.

This is a companion piece to my earlier post on Recruiting Participants for Your Study: Practical Strategies and Advice that more specifically details tips on recruiting teachers into your study.  I found it was important to do these sessions in person so that teachers could hear my recruitment message and make informed decisions about their participation.

  1. Make it personal.  A potential participant’s decision is influenced by their personal rapport with you. Take the time to establish relationships.  These can be initiated via email or telephone, but are best solidified by an in-person visit.  If they will be interfacing with a study team, showing pictures of the other team members communicates more than sharing their vitas.
  2. Flexibility and firmness.  Scheduling your visit requires a balance of these qualities.  Some dates might be on your calendar weeks in advance, while others might come through the day prior.  At the same time, be clear about how much time you need with the teachers to adequately deliver your information and answer their questions.
  3. Add extra travel time.  Teachers are on tight schedules.  Being on time respects that; moreover, if you are late, those are lost minutes for your recruitment session that you will not get back.  Confirm addresses and directions, as schools are routinely rebuilt, closed, or temporarily housed, and such changes are not always reflected in Google or Mapquest.  These sites also often underestimate driving times; I add 50 percent, then an extra 10 minutes to get myself out the door.
  4. Take snacks.  Putting out snacks to share with the group is a small thing that goes a long way in showing your appreciation.
  5. Pool teachers across a district.  If possible, ask teachers to come together to a central site across a district.  This saves time and money.
  6. Be clear.  Explain who you are, who you work for, and who is funding the study.  Communicate essential points of the study methodology in layperson terms.
  7. Be aware of their community.  The places that you visit might be different than your own: politically, demographically, culturally, and/or religiously.  Learn about community norms in advance, if possible, or observe them while you are there.  This might affect the assumptions you make, your dress, your jokes, or even the way that you address people.
  8. Put a signature on it!  Give participants something to sign – such as a memorandum of understanding (see example here) – that outlines the details of their participation.  Leave them with ready-to-sign copies and postage paid return envelopes.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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