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Assessment Activities - Institutional Review Board Guidelines for the University of Denver

Assessment of student performance, evaluation of academic programs and departments, and the examination of various aspects of "student life" have become increasingly important activities at the University of Denver. Many of these activities fall within routine assessment and evaluation plans established by DU administrators and academic departments. These ongoing efforts include activities such as student surveys about course effectiveness and provide important feedback that informs the future direction of academic programs and curricula. Other assessment and evaluation activities address more personal aspects of student life (e.g., dating behaviors, alcohol and drug use, dormitory living, etc.) and depart from what might be termed "routine" program assessment or evaluation.

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is charged with the responsibility of reviewing faculty and student research at DU. This responsibility extends to some, but not all, assessment activities being conducted on campus. This memo is intended to clarify the types of assessment and departmental evaluations that should be submitted to, and reviewed by, the IRB. Our intention is to help faculty make appropriate decisions about the types of assessment activities that are appropriate for IRB review.

Types of Assessment and Evaluation Activities Requiring No IRB Review

All academic units and many administrative departments collect routine data about class or program effectiveness. These type of activities include student course evaluations, student surveys assessing perceptions of an academic program or sequence, and student exit interviews that address only curriculum and program concerns. Some departments and units require (or strongly encourage) students to complete these surveys and evaluations as a condition of admission or graduation. No personal student behaviors are addressed in these assessments. These activities are exempt from IRB review. Faculty and administrators conducting these types of routine or academic evaluation activities do not need to take any action with regard to IRB notification or approval.

Types of Assessment and Evaluation Activities Requiring IRB Review

Assessment activities that address students' personal life (e.g., dating behaviors, drug use, social life, etc.) go beyond routine data collection and may involve some element of risk to subjects and/or investigators. Therefore, these types of assessments fall under IRB review. The IRB has revised the "Assessment Projects Review Form" for assessment and evaluation activities that are non-routine in nature and that address aspects of individual student behavior (attached). This form should be used for assessment or survey activities that evaluate individual and personal behaviors such as alcohol or drug use, sexual or dating behaviors, and other aspects of student life at DU.

Submit the Revised Assessment Projects Review Form for Projects Requiring IRB Review

The Revised Assessment Projects Review Form should be submitted to the IRB for all non-routine assessment activities that address individual and personal behaviors. This short form (attached and also available on the ORSP web site) asks investigators to inform the IRB of the purpose and methods used in the study. Investigators should also briefly note any potential risks posed to subjects and describe subject consent procedures (if applicable). The Form also asks investigators to answer several self-explanatory questions.

Thank you for your attention to ensuring that we are providing adequate safeguards for the protection of human subjects at DU. The IRB's intention is to assist you in making sure all research subjects are treated with respect and given the appropriate safeguards. Please contact, or 303-871-4050 if you have questions about the revised Assessment form or process.


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