In most cases, class projects involving human participants are not intended to contribute to generalizable knowledge and regardless of risk therefore are not covered under the federal regulations for IRBs. Although ethical considerations still apply, typical classroom research projects do not need to be reviewed by the IRB.
However, IRB approval should be obtained using the IRB Application if
- Personal information (e.g., opinions, behaviors, beliefs, feelings, etc.) will be collected from a human participant, regardless of the sensitivity of the data or if data will be collected through interaction,
- The results of the classroom research project will contribute to generalizable knowledge (e.g., by publishing — including master’s theses; presenting outside the class; citing in another paper; poster presentations).
See also “Does Your Project Need IRB Review?”