If you wish to assess the effectiveness of curricula or pedagogical techniques, your project will likely be exempt from formal IRB review. You must still submit an Application for Exemption from IRB Review, so the IRB can ensure certain protections have been established for students. Key considerations for research in the classroom include:
Have you checked with the Office of the Registrar to determine whether any of the information you wish to use is covered by FERPA? Individual grades connected with demographics, for example, could put a student at risk of identification. Will you use data in the aggregate? Or will you use detailed responses from assignments?
You may invite your students to participate in research activities that aren't part of the normal curriculum, provided that:
For pedagogical research, you should obtain some type of informed consent through either
In some cases, you may recognize a trend and wish to conduct comparative analyses between the performance or reflections of current students and past students. To use any direct quotes or individual responses from past coursework, you would need to obtain permission from individual students. But you may identify general themes or aggregated responses, provided the identity of an individual would not be disclosed.
Moving forward, you should apply the informed consent principles discussed above to gain permission from current and future students. Then, you will have students' permission to use their data for pedagogical research.
NOTE: When you submit the Application for Exemption, you can refer to past coursework/data as "extant data," and you should explain how you will use it in a "de-identified" manner (that is, it cannot be linked to any individual student).