Recruiting Students as Participants
The IRB reviews a number of protocols from researchers proposing to recruit students from their own classes to serve as research participants. Researchers should avoid recruiting their own students to participate in their research whenever possible, though this practice is not prohibited. Researchers should consider whether another population of subjects is equally suited to the research question, such as another class section not taught by the researcher, or whether recruitment by another instructor, or de-identified data collected by an associate might be appropriate for their research. No matter how well intentioned an instructor is, students may feel compelled to participate in their research because of the power relationship inherent in the instructor/student relationship, and therefore, the possibility of coercion exists.
If you wish to recruit your own students as research participants, one thing the IRB will consider in its review is whether participating in the research would be a learning experience for the students and/or whether it is relevant to the course being taught.
Recruiting your own students
When it has been determined that recruitment of your own students is appropriate, the following issues should be considered:
One option for reducing coercion in recruitment of your own students for research is collection of data by a third party. In situations where the data collected is not part of regular course activities and thus the students may choose to not participate, the researcher should arrange data to be collected by an independent third party. This is required so that the instructor does not know who participated and does not have access to the identifiable data or identity of participants until after grades have been assigned and entered. A teaching assistant for the class does not qualify as a third party.
In situations where extra credit is offered in exchange for study participation, an alternate means of earning credit for an equivalent commitment of time and effort must be made available to all students. These alternatives are reviewed carefully to ensure students are not being coerced to participate in research.
Use of student academic records
If a researcher wishes to gain access to identifiable student academic records, signed consent may be required. See our page on FERPA for more information.
Use of class time for research or recruitment
If aiming to recruit participants for research in a class, researchers can only recruit at the beginning or end of class time. They must let students know they are free to leave early or come late if they do not wish to listen to the research recruitment script.