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Kent Child Development Unit

Online testing

Participate in our child studies through your computer!

Coronavirus has stopped us testing face-to-face, both in the Kent Child Development Unit and in schools. However, you and your children still have the opportunity to take part in our research via online video communication testing with one of our
DBS-checked researchers.

Answers to questions about online testing

If you have already registered your details on our database, we would contact you either via email or by phone to explain what a specific study would involve. There is no commitment for you / your child to participate and you can decide to opt out at any time before or during the appointment date. (You can also decide to withdraw your child’s data up to three months after participating, if you wish).

If we do not have your child’s / your details, you can register your interest on our sign-up page.

After we have expressed interest in participating in a particular study, we will email you a link to a questionnaire (Qualtrics) which gives you a detailed outline of what the particular research question is, what your child would do, how long it would take and how the recordings would be stored. This Qualtrics survey would store your written consent along with the participant number that we assign your child. Once you have completed this, we will then either email you again or phone you to arrange an appointment on a day and time convenient for you and the particular researcher. Please do ask the researcher if you have any questions about the particular study.

Once the appointment has been arranged, you will receive an appointment via Microsoft Teams and a link to a meeting in Zoom.

On the appointment day, you will receive a reminder email about five minutes prior to the testing session. At the beginning of the session, the researcher will ask you if you have any questions. Then the researcher will explain at an age-appropriate level to your child what will happen and will check that your child is happy with this. Once your child has started interacting with the researcher, we would ask that you no longer participate in the conversation. (You can remain in the same room but one suggestion could be to pretend to read a book, carry out your own work or cook so that your child is less likely to ask you for help if we ask him or her to answer a question).

Computer: You would need a PC, Mac or laptop, either with an in-built camera or else with a web-cam attached (e.g. via USB).  

Hearing us: Your child would need to be able to hear us well via this device. Most devices have good in-built speakers but if not, you might need to attach external speakers.  

Hearing you: We would need to be able to hear what your child says to the researcher. Again most such devices come with reasonable in-built microphones.  

Internet: If your internet connection is very poor, there might be difficulties with lag. However, in our experience the internet connection of most families in Kent – even in the villages – is adequate for the studies with are running. 

We would record the session on Zoom, which automatically make a ‘local’ copy on the researcher’s PC. Immediately after the sessions end, the tester will transfer the video-recording to a secure university web-server (where it will be stored under the participant number, not your child’s name). The researcher will then immediately delete the recording from her computer. Only the researchers involved in that particular study together with their technical team would have access to this recording. The recording is automatically transcribed and we will also analyse other behavior and responses to questions.

We will email you a ‘Young Scientist’ certificate as a pdf for you to give your child. We will also email you an e-voucher (eg from Voucher Express). 

We are interested in results at the level of a group of children. For example, we might compare two different ways of learning a new word and determine which method is on average the easiest method. When we use statistical techniques to analyse the results, we use spreadsheets containing your child’s participant number and not his / her name. The spreadsheets are thus fully anonymized. 

It typically takes us about a year to see all the children in our sample, code and analyse their data and write this up as a report. Following this, it takes about another year to publish the report in an international academic journal. At this point, we will then email parents a copy of the link to the published article.  

All our studies have been fully approved by the School of Psychology Research Ethics Committee, which can be contacted by email at psychethics@kent.ac.uk.