Education research is generally considered exempt under IRB regulations. As of July 2019, UCI’s IRB office has announced that education research that qualifies as exempt can be self-determined. Rather than filling out the exempt narrative form and submitting it and other paperwork to the IRB, a researcher can fill out the form and keep it, then conduct their research. Exempt education research is:

Research, conducted in established or commonly accepted educational settings and 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. (source: IRB)

And it can be self determined if it does not contain:

1. Children
2. Adults (age 18 or older) who may not be legally/mentally/cognitively competent to consent
3. Prisoners
4. American Indian/Alaska Native tribes
5. Non-UCI personnel engaged in research: a) intervening or interacting with the participants and/or b) having access to participant identifiable private information for research purposes.
6. Use of the UCI Social Science Human Subject Lab (SONA).
7. International Research
8. A study team member with a Disclosable Financial Interest.
(source: IRB)

The TLRC provides support to UCI faculty who are interested in carrying out education research on UCI undergraduates. These next steps are available to most:

Obtaining IRB approval:

  1. If you are a faculty member interested in measuring the effectiveness of your own teaching, you can add your name to our campus Blanket IRB by completing the following:
    A. The CITI Human Subjects tutorial.
    You can check here to see if you have completed this (look for: “(Social/Behavioral) CITI Human Subject Research”) in the past five years. If you need to complete this tutorial, read the instructions here.
    B. FERPA protection of student records.
    This tutorial is in the UC Learning Center – log in here: and search for “FERPA” to find the tutorial. It should take 10-15 min to complete.
    C. A Letter of Legitimate Educational Interest, to be signed by your chair or dean. Sample.
    Once you as an instructor are on the Blanket IRB, you can ask for grad students or postdocs working with you to be added also. They just need to complete the two online tutorials A and B, above.
    We will provide you with a Study Information Sheet you can share with your students. It is standard for everyone on the Blanket IRB.
    To discuss being added to the Blanket IRB, contact Brian Sato at
  2. If you are a campus researcher who is interested in working with an instructor and their students, complete the IRB self-determination protocol narrative. You as Lead Researcher will keep the narrative on file and are responsible for ethical conduct of the researchers. Here is a sample of a completed narrative that may be helpful. You will also need to create a Study Information Sheet to share with the students being studied.

Adding student institutional data to your gathered research data:

The TLRC can provide institutional data to campus researchers (above), but we require you to either be on the Blanket IRB or provide us with the following:

  • Your completed self-determined IRB and study information sheet
  • Evidence of completion of the two online tutorials (A and B, above)
  • A signed letter of Legitimate Educational Interest (C, above)

Researchers who are ready to ask for institutional data can begin the process here:

Requesting data from the TLRC