As you embark in researching or evaluating your teaching practice, you may or may not be required to obtain approval from the Office of Research Ethics. Generally speaking, it is the intent or purpose of the inquiry that will define the course of action: projects that aim at improving learning and engagement at UBC do not require institutional approval; this includes evaluation efforts commonly guided by program/classroom-derived questions and intended to improve judgmental quality and provide information to base decisions. Research projects, on the other hand, need to be reviewed and approved by UBC’s Behavioural Research Ethics Board. These projects often emphasize production of knowledge.
Certainly, understanding when institutional ethics approval is required can be challenging as the principles and methods (i.e. design, measurements and analysis) that apply to research, also apply to evaluation of teaching and learning projects.
Regardless of whether your project receives institutional approval or not, it is strongly recommended that research and evaluation projects alike follow ethical research procedures as well as scholarly conduct policies and practices in order to respect individual rights (and contributions) and foster open and fair processes for knowledge production and dissemination.
If the evidence/data you are collecting is not a regular part of the course (e.g., a regular assignment or activity that every student does), then you need “participants” – in many cases, student participants (e.g., surveys, interviews or focus groups). In all circumstances, it is prudent and ethical to explain clearly and transparently the aims of data collection and intended benefits. It is suggested that project leaders take measures to prevent negative consequences (harm to individual dignity), explain impacts on grades, describe terms of confidentiality, anonymity, and voluntary participation.
We have developed generic content templates for requesting students’ participation in teaching and learning evaluation and research projects. Please use the resources below to develop student consents specific to your Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) or Teaching Learning Enhancement Fund (TLEF) project.