Classroom Research Guidelines

Review Not Required
Review Required

Research at Texas A&M International University must meet the highest professional and ethical standards. As the interpretations of research and normal classroom activities vary, questions arise on what falls within the federal guidelines of research, and activities designed to train students in research methods in the normal classroom setting. Educational activities usually do not fall within the federal definition of research as described in 45 CFR 46.102(d).

Undergraduate or graduate student research activities, which reach outside of the classroom, may fall under the federal definition of research depending upon the type of interaction with the research participant(s) and the risk involved. Graduate theses and dissertations are clearly understood as research, and fall within the IRB purview when human participants are involved. However, any research conducted with the intent to either contribute to generalizable knowledge or to construct knowledge related to a specific situation that will be published or presented within an academic discipline, even that originating from the classroom activity, may fall within the requirement for human subjects review.

The faculty instructor has the responsibility of ensuring that the student is educated on the general principles of research ethics, human subject protection, and that the students receive human subjects training.


Review Not Required?

Generally, formal approval by the IRB may not be required, provided it meets the criteria below, UNLESS data will be presented at conferences or included in any publications, then IRB review is REQUIRED. 

To provide guidance to faculty members, the IRB Committee has developed the following criteria to determine if classroom assignments require IRB approval:

  • The project is a class requirement and the requirement is stated on the class syllabus.
  • The project only involves members of the class.
  • The project is performed within the confines of the lecture/laboratory room.
  • The project carries no risk, as determined by the IRB.

Note:  if research is conducted outside the confines of any classroom or laboratory, it may need to be reviewed by the IRB. Faculty and students may contact the IRB Chair and Members to discuss the assignment and obtain assistance in determining if review is needed.


Review by IRB is Required

If any of the following criteria are met

  • Are the participants from a special population such as minors (under 18 years old), prisoners, patients, who are physically or mentally challenged individuals, or pregnant women?
  • Does the assignment require using a setting such as prisons, nursing homes, hospitals, or schools?
  • Does the assignment focus on topics such as alcohol/drugs, depression/suicide, learning disabilities, abortion/AIDS/HIV/Sex, sexually transmitted diseases, eating disorders, or psychological inventories?
  • Does the assignment include audio taping or videotaping?
  • Will participants be directly identified through the assignment?
  • Will the data be formally presented to any audience outside of the class?
  • Will the data be included in any publications?
  • Will the research extend beyond the realm of the classroom environment?



The faculty instructor will complete the IRB protocol form for the course being taught and submit documents for review, including the course syllabus as an attachment and survey (if applicable).

For questions regarding the use of the form or classroom activities, the IRB may be contacted through the irb@tamiu.edu.


Projects involving UISD or LISD schools

Contact the school district first (contact information below), submit paperwork as directed by them and obtain the IRB approval from the school district.  You also need to submit the TAMIU IRB application.  Submission of the IRB paperwork to the school district and to the TAMIU IRB can be done concurrently.  However, TAMIU IRB will not approve any IRB application until the school district IRB approval is obtained.

LISD - Gerardo G. Cruz, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, 273-1001, gcruz@Laredoisd.org  LISD Research Request

UISD - Liz Raymond, Coordinator of Family Services,  473-8772, eraymond@uisd.net   UISD Research Agreement


  1. IRB Forms
  2. IRB Members