Researching Your Own Teaching Policy
This policy is to provide guidance for professors, instructors, lecturers, graduate students, and others who wish to conduct research on their teaching using their own students as research participants. For example, if a professor is interested in better understanding their own teaching by conducting qualitative data analysis of their students’ online discussions, multiple steps and safe-guards should be in place to protect the students as research participants. Such safeguards are intended to ensure that students do not feel compelled to participate in the research and ensure that they do not have to be concerned that their grade may be affected and/or that they will be treated differently during or after the class regardless of study participation.
Due to the unique relationship between student and instructor, it is important to keep in mind the power differential that exists when asking students to participate in research. Ethical standards require that ALL research participants, including students, engage in appropriate informed consent procedures so that participation is truly voluntary and to ensure that participants have the opportunity to withdraw from the study at any time without any consequences.
All studies that include human participants conducted by any person affiliated with the university must have approval from Colorado Multiple Institutional Research Board (COMIRB - http://www.ucdenver.edu/research/comirb/Pages/COMIRB.aspx). There may be instances where COMIRB approval is not needed (e.g., quality assurance and/or program evaluation studies): in the case of an evaluation study, please be aware that as instructors in the SEHD, we need to ensure that students understand that research is a voluntary activity and therefore instructors may need to attend to these steps even though COMIRB approval is not needed. When a professor, instructor, lecturer, graduate student, or other person who is teaching a course in the SEHD is researching their own teaching, it is understood that students who do not consent to participate in the research are still responsible to complete all work assigned in the course. The SEHD faculty and lecturers have chosen to include additional protections for students who are participants in research studies conducted by their instructors. Thus, the following steps must be followed when conducting research on your own teaching.
- The professor, instructor, lecturer, graduate student, or other person who is teaching a course in the SEHD (referred to from here on as “instructor”) who wishes to conduct research on their own teaching must get COMIRB approval. The third-party person (see step 4) needs to be included on the COMIRB protocol as they will have access to the data.
- The instructor must develop a signed consent form along with a written description of the study. The written description should include information about the role of the third party person (see steps 4a and 4b) and should direct the student to the SEHD Dean’s Office if there are concerns. These materials will be used to present the study to the students in the class.
- Students must be allowed to opt out of the study at any time. For example, a student could consent to participate in the study and then half-way through the semester decide they no longer want to participate and then could opt out.
- The instructor must request that a third-party person who is not involved in the research study assist in the study. The third -party person might be a professor, lecturer, graduate student, or staff. It is very important that the third-party person not be part of the research study and therefore not have any investment in the outcome of the study.
A signed agreement between the instructor and the third-party person must be on file in the Dean’s office before any presentation or discussion of the study is conducted with the students. The third-party person will present the study to the students in the class. This can take place during a face-to-face meeting of the class or as an email for an online course.
The third-party person will collect the signed consent forms and keep these forms private (from everyone including the instructor). Students must actively consent to participate in the research study. Therefore, consent forms are necessary and must be signed by the student. If a student chooses to not sign a consent form, none of their data or information can be used in the study. The third-party person will collect all data from the students who have consented to be part of the research study and ensure that all data are de-identified.
The third-party person will share the de-identified data with the instructor only AFTER grades have been submitted for the course and all identifying information has been deleted (e.g., from the Canvas shell).