Positive and Negative Experiences within FIRST Robotics survery

Hi there y’all! My name is Kiri Nakagawa (she/they) and I’m a first-year UW student/FIRST alum of FRC team 2412, the Robototes, in Bellevue, WA.

I am conducting a survey for my Data Science in the Humanities and Culturally Responsive STEM Teaching classes on the Positive and Negative experiences within FIRST Robotics.

This survey is targeted at anyone who is on, has been on, mentored, or volunteered with FIRST. It takes about 5-10 minutes depending on how much detail you want to add but please fill it out and share it with others if you can.

IT IS ALSO COMPLETELY ANONYMOUS UNLESS YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH SHARING YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION WITH ME SO I CAN POTENTIALLY REACH OUT FOR MORE INFORMATION/DISCUSSION!

I want to give people a chance to share their thoughts and experiences anonymously, especially with the recent conversations here, regarding sexism and abuse working with VEX/IFI. I am curious to see how many people have experienced similar things within FIRST.

Please feel free to add as much or as little detail as you are comfortable with. If you would like to contact me to discuss or ask questions about this project, my discord is @krispehkiwi#3602 or my Instagram is also @krispehkiwi.

Here’s the link and thank you for reading this far! https://forms.gle/4zhfTBuypYU4Bo5eA

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As a professional scientist and an occasional academic, there are quite a few warning bells in my head about this. Despite the fact that this is clearly human research, classroom assignments do fall under a weird gray area. They are typically allowed if they are not intended to collect data that will be disseminated beyond the class and have little to no potential for harm.

However, I need to point out that you are 1) collecting data from potential minors; 2) collecting identifying information (e.g., team number, location, role on team); and 3) asking about sensitive information related to abuse. Any one of those is concerning. All three are alarming. This really needs to be reviewed by your school’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). I’d provide you a link to that information, which is usually on a public-facing site, but you don’t appear to mention your school.

This IRB review is particularly important if you are going to be asking about sexism and abuse. You need a clear informed consent form covering the risks/benefits to the participant, the data confidentiality plan, and the adverse impact mitigation strategy. I suggest that you reach out to your course instructor about this research. It’s important to ensure that all of us in the science and engineering communities are conducting ethical human research. Just my two cents.

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Thank you for bringing up these valuable concerns!

I notated my school as UW, instead of the University of Washington, since I’m just used to referring to it as that. My apologies for not making that clearer.

I just messaged my professor inquiring about our IRB and what I need to do to make sure I’m following the school’s guidelines for this. I will figure out those technicalities with her, but I didn’t even know that was a thing so thanks for informing me about that.

The intention of this survey is mainly to see if there are trends in topics/issues within different regions/sub-teams/etc., hence why I ask for location, role on the team, and such. I now realize I didn’t explicitly offer the option to not share that information with a “not comfortable sharing :)” box. I have now added that along with other concerns and feedback folks have given me, which I do appreciate! I want to make sure I’m doing this ethically, legally, and respectfully to everyone comfortable enough to respond.

I likely won’t now but if I release the results in any way, they will be very general. In my report, I will be taking more selective data and trends, rather than quoting specific responses from individuals, to maintain as much anonymity as possible. I will talk to my prof about it tho and I will adjust everything accordingly.

Please let me know if you have any other concerns or suggestions!! Thank you again!

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Update on the survey real quick:

I have disabled survey responses until I can properly sort out the logistics with my professor tomorrow. I may end up deleting all/some of the data that has been collected due the concerns brought up above.

Thank you for your patience, gracious professionalism, and kindness. <3

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Hi y’all,

So, I spoke with my professor and we both agreed that given the concerns brought up regarding my school’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the sensitivity of the topics within the survey, I will no longer be accepting responses on the survey and will be deleting the entirety of the data collected.

I was not aware of and did not intend to violate any rules my school has in place for conducting surveys for projects. Typically it wouldn’t be an issue if it was more general, however, it’s more complicated given the possibility of minors responding, information gathered that may not guarantee anonymity, and the potential intensity of topics submitted. (I just paraphrased what @Ankoch mentioned above, thank you again btw!) I must conduct this kind of research formally, under a professional advisor, and be approved by my IRB.

But, this is exactly what I intend on doing! Despite this survey originally just being for a final project/paper, I really am interested in understanding more about the different experiences many people within FIRST have experienced. I want to use this future research project as a chance to help mitigate those negative experiences many community members face. So stay tuned for more information on that!

Thank you to those who participated in the initial survey and for the helpful feedback and concerns brought to my attention. Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions, comments, or concerns.

Kiri :>

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Awesome! Thanks for the follow-up. I look forward to seeing your future research project. We always need more people exploring the field of STEM education. Good luck and let me know if I can help in any way.

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