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Resources :: Guide :: Research in an educational setting :: Conducting research in a public or private school

Conducting Research in a Public or Private School

Accessing participants in a public or private school setting can be challenging because of administrative policies, state and federal regulations, and IRB requirements. This section outlines the steps for obtaining IRB approval or exemption and provides direction to resources that will help you to navigate school systems.
Steps to conducting research in public or private schools

  1. Develop your study:
    • Determine the feasibility of the study, which can include contacting school administrators and district administrators to determine if they will allow the study to be approved in their district or school.  However, if the person you are contacting may be a participant in the study (for example, if you are contacting a teacher about using his or her classroom), be careful not to recruit the person as a participant in the study (until you have IRB-SBS approval to do so).  The recruitment process is the first step to the consent process and you should not recruit participants until after you have an approved protocol.
    • Review our State and Federal Law guide.  This section highlights the requirements under state and federal law for using student data in research and conducting research in public schools. You will want to discuss school-specific policies that might affect your research with the appropriate school administrator.
    • Carefully review the Education section regarding IRB requirements and suggestions for conducting your study.  
  1. Submit a protocol to the IRB-SBS.
  2. Receive IRB approval or exemption.
  3. Complete the Administrator Permission Form: Your IRB approval or exemption is conditional upon your completion of the Administrator Permission Form.  This form demonstrates to the IRB that you have permission from an appropriate administrator to conduct the study in the school.  You can complete the form at any time, but you cannot go forward with data collection at the school until the form is completed.  If an administrator will not approve the study until you receive IRB approval, the Board will issue an approval/exemption letter stating that the study is approved pending the receipt of the form.  You may need to seek additional permission to conduct the study such as obtaining permission from a teacher to conduct a study is his or her classroom.  It is not necessary that you document this permission with a form.
  4. Follow your protocol.

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