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Learning Research

Umbrella IRB

We are delighted to announce that our University of Notre Dame’s Institutional Review Board has approved Umbrella IRB Protocol ID: 18-07-4762 – Ongoing Pedagogical Research at Notre Dame. This action facilitates instructor initiation of no risk research to improve teaching and learning that not only benefits ND students on campus but also enhances our University’s visibility with respect to providing an unsurpassed educational experience. 

ND Learning’s Learning Research group at the Kaneb Center will be leading and supporting the research program, and any professor considering teaching-related research can join our protocol without the need of submitting their own individual IRB proposal. For more information contact the Kaneb Center.

Principal Investigator: G. Alex Ambrose, Professor of the Practice, ND Learning | Kaneb Center.

Questions and consultation requests can be sent to

Checklist to Join the Protocol 

[  ] Confirm criteria for joining the protocol:  

  • Studies must only involve Notre Dame students.
  • Studies cannot, at this point, receive external funding. Internally funded projects will work, but we will need to file a specific modification for those.
  • Studies should be connected to a specific course offered at Notre Dame.
  • All investigators need to have current CITI certification (see below)

[  ] Submit the Umbrella IRB Protocol Agreement for Approval and any surveys or interview questions you will use in the study.

[  ] CITI Certification:  As required by federal regulations, any investigator conducting human subjects research must complete CITI training, specifically the “Social & Behavioral” Basic Course.  You can register for and begin the CITI training here.

[  ]  ND FERPA Training: Since you and your research team will be conducting data collection and analysis of sensitive student data, we ask that all research members complete the quick  FERPA Tutorial: Current Notre Dame Faculty, Staff, and Students (ND authentication required).

[  ] Student Consent: Most studies included in the protocol will use specific language on course syllabi and survey forms as the mechanism for acquiring students’ consent.  If you wish to use another means for consent, please include it when you email Alex the other materials.  Students who do not wish to take part in the study should be provided with alternate means of assessment.


Special Acknowledgement to the support of Josh Eyler, Executive Director of Rice University’s Center for Teaching Excellence, for helping us through this process. 


IRB Protocol ID:18-07-4762 is an umbrella protocol to cover experiments at University the University of Notre Dame that meet these criteria.

Who is covered under this protocol?

A researcher requesting initial approval to conduct studies covered under this protocol must document that he/she meets the following requirements:

  1. be a current Notre Dame affiliate. Faculty visiting Notre Dame for at least a semester are included.
  2. be either a graduate student, post-doc, or faculty. Undergraduate students are not covered under this protocol.
  3. those who are conducting unfunded research.  If proposed studies become funded internally (i.e. university, department, or faculty funding), a modification will be submitted. NOTE: this protocol only covers studies that have university funding, department funding, or faculty funding. Studies conducted using federal funding such as NSF grants must apply separately for IRB review.

Standard Pedagogy Experiment 

The following protocol describes a standard pedagogy experiment:

During the course, instructors/researchers will explain to students that they will be conducting research on student learning in their section of the course. They will be told that the purpose of this research is to demonstrate the effectiveness of different pedagogical strategies.  Students will be told that the activities are no different from activities they would otherwise experience during the course; the difference is that instructors/researchers will be collecting effectiveness data and data from students on their perspectives relative to the innovations implemented by their instructors.  

The questionnaires and activities that participants will complete or participate in should not cause any discomfort greater than that encountered in daily life. These studies involve asking questions about student study strategies, views on learning, and the efficacy of classroom pedagogy. Other activities for which performance will be measured (e.g. exams) are no different from those that would be completed by students not participating in the study. Any pedagogical interventions used in the studies will be consistent with professional standards for responsible teaching practices.

Consent and subjects’ rights


  • Subjects will be given written information on the course syllabus about the experiment.
  • After the information is read, the subjects will be told that they consent to participating in the study by continuing with it.
  • Subjects will be informed that participation is voluntary.
  • Subjects may refuse to participate or withdraw at any time. Non-participation will not affect students’ grades or academic standing.
  • You may obtain the participants’ names, email addresses and net IDs.


Each experiment will inform subjects about the purpose of the research. This information will always be true.

Handling Identifiable data

  • Analysis of identifiable data will happen on password-protected computers;
  • Identifiable data will be stored on password-protected computers, or, if on paper, in the locked cabinets in the lab, or, temporarily, in the researcher’s own locked cabinets;
  • Identifiable data may be accessed by the research team;
  • Identifiable data will be transferred using USB memory devices, ND’s email system, and Box. The electronic transmission mechanisms are password protected.

Note: No audio or video recording will occur in a standard pedagogy experiment.

 [1] Adapted from a form used at Rice University and by Stanford University’s Economics Department.