Appendix 1

Invitation to Participate.

Structuring Student Interactions in Online Distance Learning: Exploring the Study Buddy Activity

Dear MDDE 604 Participants,

My name is Colin Madland and I am completing my Master of Education (Distance Education) thesis through the Centre for Distance Education at Athabasca University (AU). This letter is to invite you to participate in a study of the use of the study buddy activity in online distance education.

The purpose of the project is to explore the study buddy activity and its potential role in distance learning settings.

I am seeking your participation in this study because you are currently taking or have recently completed MDDE 604 with Dr. Griff Richards whose course introduces students to the study buddy approach. Please note that I am seeking the participation of both those students who have engaged in the study buddy activity and those who have not.

If you choose to participate, you will be asked to engage in the following research activities:

  1. To complete a brief online survey regarding your perceptions of the study buddy activity. This survey should take about 10-15 minutes to complete.
  2. To potentially participate in an interview of approximately 30 – 45 minutes via Skype. A selection of 4 – 6 participants will be asked for interviews in order to allow the researcher to follow up on survey results.

There is a link to the survey near the end of this message.

To encourage participation, I will be giving away one $100 gift certificate to one person who completes the survey or both the survey and the interview. Participants who complete the survey will receive one entry into the draw and participants who complete both the survey and the interview will receive two entries into the draw. The draw will take place once all of the data have been collected.

Please be assured that your involvement in this research is completely voluntary and there are no known or anticipated risks to participation in this study. You have the right to refuse to participate and to withdraw at any time during this research, without prejudice, up until the point that the researcher begins data analysis. Your participation or your choice to withdraw will in no way affect your standing or grades in your course or program. You may also refuse to answer any question posed to you during this study by exiting the survey and choosing not to complete it or by letting the researcher know during the interview, if applicable.

You may also request to have your data removed from the study up until the point that the researcher begins analysis.

One of the supervisors of this research study is Dr. Griff Richards, who is or was your instructor for MDDE 604. Dr. Richards will not know who has chosen to participate in the study or not, he will not have access to any of the raw data nor will he have access to any of the aggregated data until after the course has ended and final grades are calculated.

All information collected from you will be stored in a secure electronic location that can only be accessed by the researcher. All personal information gathered in the survey will be held confidential. The data collected may include identifying information, but it will only be used to contact participants who indicate that they are willing to participate in an interview, or to contact the winner of the $100 gift certificate. The names of all participants will be replaced with pseudonyms by the researcher and all quantitative data will only be reported in aggregated form, such as means and standard deviations. On completion of the data analysis, a summary of the results of this research will be made available to all interested participants on request to Colin Madland at

If you have any questions about this study or would like additional information to assist you in reaching a decision about participation, please feel free to contact Colin Madland at or my supervisor, Dr. Susan Moisey at

To participate in the survey, please click the following link:

By following the link to the survey you are indicating that you consent to participate in the survey and that you acknowledge that you may be contacted to participate in the follow-up interview.

The Athabasca University Research Ethics Board has reviewed and approved this research study and may be reached by e-mailing or calling 1-780-675-6718 if you have questions or comments about your treatment as a participant.

Thank you in advance for your interest in this project.

Colin Madland