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Course-Based Student Research

Class assignments where students are required to collect and analyze data from human participants must also obtain ethical clearance. Each student's project does not need to be reviewed by the Research Ethics Board. Only the assignment is reviewed and the instructor then provides ethical oversight for each student's project.

If any of the following apply, then the course-based research project requires an REB review: 

  • The intent is to educate students on research processes used to explore and expand existing theories and conceptual knowledge
  • Students compare effectiveness of new techniques, practices, programs with standard approaches
  • Primary data is collected and organized for analysis and distribution (orally or written)
  • Data is collected from persons who are not members of the course
  • Data is collected from a vulnerable population (e.g. vulnerable ethnic communities or individuals, children, cognitively challenged individuals, “captive” groups)

Minimal Risk: This application form is intended for use with projects that do not involve more than minimal risk (e.g. harm no greater than encountered by participants in their everyday lives); if the proposed project represents more than minimal risk, then the instructor will be required to complete the full research ethics application process.  

Student information gathering activities are classified as skill development and, therefore, not “research”, when the intent is to:

  • Use the information to provide advice, diagnosis, identification of appropriate interventions, general advice for a client
  • Develop skills which are considered standard practice within a profession (e.g. observation, assessment, intervention, evaluation, auditing)
  • Collect information as part of the normal relationship between a student and the ‘participants’ (e.g. classroom teacher and students; nurse and patient; lawyer and client)
  • Teach the design, conduct and process of research (e.g. ‘practice’ data collection from students within their class)

The Application Process for Course-Based Student Projects

The instructor for the course submits a Course-Based Student Project Application form for the class. If there is more than one instructor attached to the learning activity, choose one instructor to be the contact person.

The signed application form is submitted to the REB with the following documents attached: assignment instructions, COVID-19 New Research plan, sample consent form (optional), and/or sample data collection tool (optional).

After REB approval, the instructor should have students complete an individual Ethics Application form for each separate research project. The instructor will be the reviewer of these forms, ensuring that they are complete and in compliance with the Research Involving Humans policy.

Ethical approval for course-based student projects is maintained for three years.  If changes are made to the assignment or to the supervising instructor, a new application form must be submitted to the REB. 

Instructors are required to complete an Annual Status Report each year.   

Data and information collected from course-based student projects need to be kept in a safe and secure location for a period of one year from the completion of the course.

ethics [at] rdc [dot] ab [dot] ca

Research Ethics Board, Chair:
Krista Robson: 403-314-2499

krista [dot] robson [at] rdc [dot] ab [dot] ca

Contact Us

RDC Inquiries

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Main Phone: 403.342.3400
Toll-free: 1.888.732.4630 (in Canada only)
Email: inquire [at] rdc [dot] ab [dot] ca


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Red Deer, Alberta | T4N 5H5