Student Class Project Guidelines & Procedures

Class projects or assignments involving human subjects are generally conducted for educational purposes or training solely to fulfill a course requirement; as such, an element of the definition of research - the intent to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge - is lacking, so these activities do not meet the regulatory definition of research.  Therefore, most student class projects or assignments can be excluded from the requirement to submit an Institutional Review Board (IRB) application for review and approval; however, there are specific parameters listed below that must be reviewed and followed to confirm exclusion from review. 

If a class project or activity is a systematic investigation (including research development, testing and evaluation) designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge (outside of the classroom), it meets the definition of research and will require IRB review and approval.  

Thesis and dissertation projects are typically conducted to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge and, therefore, meet the definition of research.  If these projects involve human subjects (including identifiable written material or samples removed from human subjects), IRB review and approval will be required.  Visit IRB Review Classifications for additional information on what types of projects need to be submitted or email us at irb@kennesaw.edu to discuss.

Parameters for determining a class project:

  • The project cannot include minors or any other vulnerable populations (i.e., pregnant women, prisoners, those who lack the capacity to consent, non-English speaking individuals, etc.)

    Projects conducted by Kennesaw State University’s (KSU) Bagwell College of Education (BCOE) students as part of their course requirements within the local school systems must be covered under a fully executed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU must have been reviewed/approved by KSU’s Legal Affairs and identify expectations between BCOE and either the school district’s Board of Education or the individual school hosting BCOE students. 

  • “Minimal risk” is the probability and magnitude of harm that is normally encountered in the daily lives of healthy individuals. This excludes the study of any illegal activities (questions about drug use, underage alcohol consumption, texting and driving, etc.) or the collection of private information that could put the participants at risk through a breach of confidentiality if the data could somehow be connected back to them.  Data collection must be anonymously provided and never identifiable either directly or indirectly (i.e., grandma/grandpa).

  • The class project cannot include any deception. Individuals must be fully informed and provided with an opportunity to voluntarily consent to participate by giving their verbal agreement utilizing the Student Class Project Consent Form template or the parameters described under Student Responsibilities.
  • Data from class projects approved under this exclusion cannot be shared outside of the classroom, used to present at a conference, and/or for thesis/dissertation research.
    • Federal regulations will not allow the IRB to provide retroactive approval, so make sure PRIOR to conducting data collection that your students are aware and this is applicable.
    • Dissemination of findings to a public audience is a sufficient criterion for defining a project as “research” and thus requires an IRB application and approval. Dissemination includes, but is not limited to: honor’s, master’s and doctoral theses; presentation at a scientific meeting or conference such as KSU’s Symposium of Student Scholars; poster presentation to other faculty/students; Blog or Internet postings; submission to or publication of (paper or electronic) in a scientific journal.
  • NO AUDIO or VIDEO RECORDING can be utilized if the project is to fit under a class project exclusion. If your class project involves a video assignment, please contact the IRB to confirm if the activity would be considered “research” and require an IRB application for approval.


If a class project does not fall within the above parameters to qualify for an exclusion, please contact us at irb@kennesaw.edu to discuss and/or to submit an IRB application.

NOTE:  Please make sure your students adhere to KSU’s Mass Email Policy and utilize the appropriate KSU Inform listserv for recruitment of their participants.  Recruitment within D2L is prohibited whether conducting research or sending out non-class specific notifications.  

Faculty Responsibilities when conducting class projects

It is the responsibility of the faculty or course instructor to review the above parameters and confirm whether a class project qualifies for an exclusion or needs to be submitted for IRB review/approval.  When in doubt, please contact the IRB at irb@kennesaw.edu or 470/578-6407 to discuss.  Please also review the IRB’s Federal-wide Assurance of Compliance, Section VII.E. that covers Research Non-Compliance and could end up being investigated as Research Misconduct.

As with any instructional activity, the faculty or course instructor assumes responsibility for the conduct and oversight of these class projects or activities.  It is expected that these activities will uphold the principles of ethical treatment and respect, and ensure the safety and protection, of the student researcher and any human subjects who will be involved in these projects.  This includes:

  1. Faculty maintain current certification on the CITI IRB training in either the Social/Behavioral Research Course or Biomedical Research Course to confirm their full understanding of ethical research practices.
  2. Discussing the general principles of ethical research with human subjects with the class prior to the initiation of the project. This should be supplemented by the completion of the CITI IRB training by the students who will conduct the projects.  The appropriate course title for students is “Students conducting no more than minimal risk research” and students must use their official KSU student email when creating a CITI profile.
  3. Reviewing student class project plans and monitoring those activities to ensure that human participants are protected.
  4. At a minimum, students conducting the project inform participants of the voluntary nature of participation and employ measures to confirm no personally identifiable information is collected.
  5. The above parameters are discussed with students before the class project begins so that informed decisions can be made about whether IRB review/approval is needed.
  6. If even the slightest chance exists that an instructional assignment/project may fall under the definition of research as outlined in this document, an IRB application must be submitted and approved prior to any data collection.
  7. When overseeing instructional assignments/projects that do not fall under the definition of research as outlined in this document, faculty or course instructors must have the students identify the project as a class assignment. No use of the word “research” is allowed.  Labeling a project under the above parameters as research is inaccurate and misleading for the students, as well as for others with whom the students may interact as a necessary component of completing the assignment.
  8. Any concern or complaint by participants of class projects must be reported immediately in writing to the IRB at irb@kennesaw.edu and a solution addressed.
  9. Adhere to any laboratory or environmental safety training and guidelines if applicable. If in doubt, refer to the information found on the Environmental Health and Safety Department’s website. 

Student Responsibilities when conducting class projects

All students conducting projects under this exclusion should disclose important information to the participants.  It is strongly recommended that all projects utilize the Student Class Project Consent Form template that has been provided.  If the template isn’t used, then minimally the following must be included:

  1. The student identifies him/herself as a KSU student who is performing the activity to fulfill a course requirement (the course is specifically identified).
  2. The name and contact information for the faculty member or course instructor overseeing their project is included for participants to contact with any questions or concerns.
  3. The students who have access to the individual data and/or summarized results are specified (i.e., Instructor only, Instructor and classmates, providing results to the Individual/Organization interviewed).
  4. Participants are informed that their participation is completely voluntary, that they do not have to participate in the project if they don’t want to, and that they can stop participating at any time.
  5. NO mention of the word research or IRB should be included.

Participant identifying information may not be included in the data collection.  Students are required to destroy all data collected from human subject projects/assignments at the end of the semester upon receipt of final course grade.  Failure to follow any of these requirements may result in disciplinary action.

Future Use of Data

It is very important that careful consideration be given to the possibility of any presentation, publication, or use of any collected data for future research studies.  Federal guidelines state that retroactive approval cannot be granted for studies conducted without IRB approval.  For example, if a class project was conducted without IRB approval and resulted in unexpected but important findings or data, those findings or data cannot be presented at a conference or used in a future project or research study (see examples at Office of Undergraduate Research).  Both faculty and student researcher need to be aware of the prohibition against use of existing data not collected under proper consent.

Questions

Please contact the IRB at irb@kennesaw.edu or 470/578-6407 for any questions or for additional assistance.

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