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Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL) Resource Guide

A collaboration between Auburn University Libraries and the Biggio Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning

Instruction Librarian

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Piper Cumbo

IRB and SoTL

Because SoTL research most likely involves human subjects (i.e., students), approval from Auburn's Institutional Review Board is necessary to ensure the safe and ethical treatment of research participants. However, SoTL research often falls under the Exempt  category, which involves an abbreviated review process. This is known as the 45 CFR 46.104(d)(2) exemption.

For example, the following two categories of research are considered Exempt by the United States' Office for Human Research Protections. You must submit an Exemption Review Application to the Auburn University IRB Office in order to determine if your research falls within these categories.

  • Research, conducted in established or commonly accepted educational settings, that specifically involves normal educational practices that are not likely to adversely impact students’ opportunity to learn required educational content or the assessment of educators who provide instruction. This includes most research on regular and special education instructional strategies, and research on the effectiveness of or the comparison among instructional techniques, curricula, or classroom management methods.
  • Research that only includes interactions involving educational tests (cognitive, diagnostic, aptitude, achievement), survey procedures, interview procedures, or observation of public behavior (including visual or auditory recording) if at least one of the following criteria is met:

IRB Decision Trees

The U.S. Office of Human Research Protections provides decision trees to help determine if your research falls within the Exempt category.  Always check with Auburn's IRB Office for local policies.

Example decision tree from Office for Human Research Protections

Decision Tree to determine Exemption from IRB Review

Readings on Ethical SoTL and the IRB Process

CITI Training

CITI Training on Human Subjects Research is required to submit an IRB protocol.  However, according to Auburn's IRB Exempt Review Application, 

"Key personnel are required to maintain human subjects training through CITI. Only for EXEMPT level research is documentation of completed CITI training NO LONGER REQUIRED to be included in the submission packet. NOTE however, the IRB will perform random audits of CITI training records to confirm reported training courses and expiration dates. Course title and expiration dates are shown on training certificates."