Using IRB Protocols to Teach Ethical Principles for Research and Everyday Life A High-Impact Practice

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Kathy Ritchie


Undergraduate research as a high-impact practice demonstrates many positive benefits for students, but little research has delved into the impact of ethical training for research, in particular submitting Institutional Review Board (IRB) protocols to determine if the study meets ethical standards for the treatment of human subjects. This study explored if students in two experimental and one nonexperimental research methods class benefited from increased knowledge of research ethics and how to apply them in daily-life situations if they participated in various aspects of IRB protocol procedures either as part of a class-based research project or by completing an IRB protocol activity for developing a hypothetical program to help families. Some students in all three classes had previously engaged in a 4-hr online extended training [the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Program] in research ethics focused on the Belmont Report principles of beneficence, respect, and justice, but not in IRB protocols. Students were given a pre- and posttest to assess knowledge in both research and daily-life settings for applying the Belmont Report research ethics principles. Results indicate students gained greater knowledge of research ethics when they completed IRB protocol training during a class-based undergraduate research or program-design project, even if they had already completed some extended case-based training in the CITI Program. Results are discussed in terms of the value of using modified IRB protocol approaches as a high-impact practice to teach ethics in research and daily life to students.


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Ritchie, K. (2021). Using IRB Protocols to Teach Ethical Principles for Research and Everyday Life: A High-Impact Practice. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 21(1).