Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Class Projects

Periodically, instructors have students engage in research activities as part of a course.

If the activity qualifies for one of the categories of exemption, the instructor may submit a request for a “blanket exemption.” In these situations, the students in the class would be able to tailor projects for the class, without every project requiring a separate IRB application. Types of projects that would typically qualify include surveys, tests, or interviews that do not include questions that put a participant at “greater than minimal risk.”  You can find the Blanket Exemption Form on the forms page.

It is possible to have several projects fall under the “Blanket exemption,” while others require review.

The faculty member has the responsibility to:
(1) assess whether student projects/classroom activities involving human participants meet eligibility for review or exclusion from IRB review;
(2) oversee these activities; and
(3) assure that ethical principles are adhered to in the conduct of those activities.

When information is collected for a class project that does not meet the definition of "research" (as defined by the federal regulations) it is still important to "inform" the people you talk with about your class project. Make sure you tell them:

  • Who you are—introduce yourself. (This may not always be necessary, as many students enlist the help of friends or family to collect data for a class project.)
  • It is a class project.
  • What they will be asked to do. ("I would like to ask you some questions about …., . If there are any questions you don't want to answer, it is fine to skip them".)
  • How long the interview, survey, etc., may take to complete.
  • What will happen to the information you collect ("The information will be used to write my paper for the class, and I will give a presentation in class. All of my notes, surveys, etc., will be destroyed when the project is completed.")
  • If they will not be identified: examples: "I will not write your name on my notes"; "Do not write your name on the survey;" "I will not use your name in my paper."
  • That they may contact you if they have any questions (provide phone number/email).
  • Ask if they understand the information
  • Ask if they agree to participate.

You may want to have an information sheet to hand to them with all of the above information on it even though they will not sign it.