Instructor Guidelines

Many departments on campus offer courses that require students to carry out projects involving investigations using human subjects. The Agnes Scott College IRB has developed a set of guidelines for instructors who teach courses which require student investigations using human subjects. If students in any class (undergraduate or graduate) are required to carry out a project which requires information to be obtained from human subjects, the instructor of the course must follow the guidelines articulated below.

IRB Form C must be submitted before the students can recruit, screen or begin data collection, and the IRB must approve the proposal or exempt the proposal from further review. To use Form C, all students must receive the same assignment and use the same research design. Otherwise, please use Form A.

  1. Once per academic year for each course using human subjects (or, given that it might be offered more than once a year, whenever the syllabus of such a course be substantially modified or altered), the instructor must submit an IRB proposal Form C to the IRB for review.
  2. The IRB must approve or exempt the proposal from further review from IRB oversight before students can recruit, screen, or begin data collection.
  3. Once the IRB has approved the proposal, it is the responsibility of the class instructor to evaluate the ethical soundness and risk level of each student's research project before the student can begin data collection; generally the proposals reviewed by the instructor would fall into an Exempt category.
  4. The proposal submitted by the instructor to the IRB (Form C) should include a description of the system the instructor will use to evaluate the level of risk and ethical soundness of each student's research project. That is, the proposal should include a detailed summary of the process through which the instructor will:
    1. educate the students concerning level of risk to the subjects (e.g., of physical injury in a class on methods of evaluation of athletic performance; or, e.g., of injury to self-esteem in a class on methods of interview) and relevant ethical guidelines by means of readings, class lectures, etc.; use of the CITI basic online modules in the relevant area of study is strongly encouraged (see more on research integrity); and
    2. assess whether students' projects are ethically sound and of an acceptably low level of risk of physical, social, and psychological injury by means of, for example, a mock IRB proposal that students submit to the instructor or class evaluation of each student's proposal, etc.
  5. If the predominant focus of the course is to teach research methods, a copy of the class syllabus should be submitted to the IRB. This syllabus should indicate that ethical issues will be discussed in class, and should also indicate what written sources (e.g., textbook, published ethical guidelines) which will be used to educate students concerning ethical issues.
  6. The IRB Chair may review and Exempt or give Administrative Approval to most proposals for courses which require student investigations with human subjects. If, in the Chair's opinion the nature of the student's projects may involve more than minimal risk to the subjects, review by the entire IRB will be required.
  7. Any student project that involves either (a) vulnerable populations (minors, prisoners, pregnant women, mentally impaired persons), or (b) more than minimal risk must be submitted as a separate proposal to the IRB. That student must await approval from the IRB before commencing data collection. Therefore, it is the instructor's responsibility to ensure either that (a) student projects do not deal with vulnerable populations or entail more than minimal risk, or (b) any student project that does involve vulnerable populations or more than minimal risk must come before the IRB for review, just as any such research project would.
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