Class projects with the limited objective of teaching proficiency in performing certain tasks or using specific tools or methods do not require IRB approval.
Instructors and departments should provide guidance about ways to handle topics such as privacy, confidentiality and professional ethics when class projects are part of the course syllabus. IRB chairs and staff can share expertise related to managing risks of deductive disclosure, coercion-free recruiting, informed consent, and special considerations for projects that include potentially vulnerable individuals.
Examples of common scenarios:
CLASS PROJECTS involving secondary data analyses that are assigned and conducted as educational exercises, and that use data sets that include private information and codes that link to identifiers, but the students do not have access to the identifiers or the code key.Note – activity must be limited to class project use only.
Class instructor and department are responsible for providing the necessary training in respecting the confidentiality of the data.
→ No IRB action required (neither approval nor determination of human research status), but may be requested if instructor or students are unsure, or if documentation is required by gatekeepers (e.g., schools, businesses) for access to participants.Class instructor and department are responsible for providing the necessary training in respecting the privacy of the individuals and the confidentiality of any resulting information, along with training in the relevant professional ethics.
The Instructor should provide information about the assignment for the students to distribute to people who participate in these class projects. The information should list the instructor as the appropriate contact person should questions arise.
IRB approval required → When there are several students in a class doing similar projects, a single IRB application may be submitted by the course instructor as PI, listing all students who will be involved. The similarities and differences must be clearly explained on the application and in the protocol. If projects vary greatly, then submit individual IRB applications with the instructor as PI or faculty investigator.The instructor and all student researchers must complete research ethics education and submit certificates of completion along with the IRB application, if certificates are not already on file with the IRB.