Research in an Educational Setting

The purpose of this section is to provide guidance for developing and conducting human subjects research in an educational setting. Education studies typically involve minors in schools, but can also include upper level institutions with adult participants, as well as other non-traditional educational settings. In reviewing an education study, the board will want to know:

  • Who are the participants? Are they students, parents, teachers, and/or administrators?
  • Are the student participants minors?
  • What is the study’s setting? Do you need permission to conduct your study in the educational setting? Are you aware of state and federal regulations which could impact how you conduct your study?   
  • Are you interacting directly with participants or just gathering materials?
  • What data will you use in the study? What tools are you using to gather data (online surveys, video recordings)? Will you access student records for data?
  • What is your relationship with the school/students? Do you have grading authority over the students? Are there other social dynamics that need to be considered such as having the principal contact parents about the study?
  • How will you construct your recruitment and consent process so that everyone involved is informed but no one feels pressured to participate?

Components that are often included in an education protocol:

  • Data Sources/ Data Sources Upload: Describe and upload the instruments that you will use to collect data. See Data in an Educational Setting for more information.
  • Recruitment and Informed Consent: If the students are minors, you will likely need a Parental Consent/Minor Assent or a Parent Notification. If teachers, parents, adult students, or administrators are participants, they may need a consent form as well. See Recruitment and Informed Consent for more information.
  • Permissions Upload: If you are conducting a study at a public or private educational site, you may need permission from the administration to conduct the study. Permission documentation needs to be included in the Permissions Upload section; if permission is granted after IRB-SBS approval, email the documentation to our office and we will add it to your protocol. 

If you plan to access student records, make sure you understand state and federal guidelines regarding student records. In addition, be familiar with your obligation to report abuse, suicide, and other unsafe or illegal behaviors.