Course-Based Research

Course-based research focuses on maximizing the students’ learning experience through applied research projects and learning transferring activities. A goal for Niagara College faculty/instructors is to implement class projects designed to develop applied research skills, in order to transfer those skills to future work placements. Frequently, the course-based research projects may be a requirement of the curriculum or program where students will receive grades and will be guided by a faculty member. These projects may be conducted by individual students, small groups, or as a whole class project and may involve human participants.

Research Involving Human Participants

The Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2) is a federal mandate that promotes high ethical conduct, standards and procedures for research that involves human participants. The TCPS 2 applies to those conducting, participating in, or reviewing human research in institutions, including course-based research projects. Research involving human participants requires Research Ethics Board (REB) review, and approval before the commencement of the research project.

Project Approval by the REB

Faculty members/instructors assigning student course-based research projects involving human participants shall receive approval by the REB prior to the recruitment of participants and assessment or collection of data by students. The faculty member/instructor shall complete and file the Faculty Course-Based Research Ethics Application to receive coursed-based research project clearance and to be appointed as a delegated non-REB faculty member to review his/her students’ projects.

Delegated Review of Students’ Projects by Delegated Non-REB Members

Since most students’ course-based research projects do not intend to use the research data outside the course context (i.e. publication); have no risks or minimal risks to participants; and activities are solely for pedagogical purposes; it will be assessed by a delegated non-REB member: in most situations, the students’ professor or other trained, qualified staff member. The reviewer will determine whether the proposed students’ research shall be; (a) acceptable as submitted; (b) acceptable with minor modifications; or (c) be required to undergo regular review by the Niagara College REB.

Course-Based Research Project Review Process at a Glance

The following outlines the process for the review of the ethical conduct of course-based research projects.

  • Faculty member completes the online TCPS 2: Core Tutorial
  • Faculty member submits the Faculty Course-Based Research Ethics Application to the Research Ethics Board (REB)
  • The REB reviews the application and communicates decision
  • The REB appoints the faculty member as a delegated non-REB faculty member to review student projects
  • Student projects are reviewed by the appointed delegated non-REB faculty member for ethical integrity
  • The appointed delegated non-REB faculty member monitors the ethical conduct of students’ research projects

Faculty & Student Expectations and Responsibilities

The faculty member/instructor and students hold the responsibility of ensuring that research is being conducted under the ethical standards stated in the TCPS 2 and Niagara College Research Practices. Students working in teams shall appoint a principal investigator or the leader of a research team who is responsible for the conduct of the research and for the actions of any member of the research team.

The faculty member/instructor, principal investigator and all members of the research team shall ensure the expectations and responsibilities, as outlined below.

Faculty Expectations & Responsibilities:

  • To oversee, mentor, train, and educate student researchers
  • To communicate any changes to the research project, adverse or unanticipated events, and other ethical implications to the REB as soon as possible
  • All procedures are conducted based on the REB’s requirements and TCPS 2, and Niagara College research standards and guidelines
  • The proposed project involving humans will maximize the learning experience for students
  • The ethical conduct in research involving human participants will be implemented as a course topic prior to the commencement of the assignment
  • The proposed project will not be used as one’s own research project
  • The project will not include vulnerable human participants
  • The project presents no or minimal risks to participants
  • The project will contain protocols for obtaining informed consent from participants
  • Privacy and confidentiality of the participants will be safeguarded
  • Data collection will be anonymous and confidential
  • Dissemination of the results will only be shared within the course context
  • Research will only be conducted by students

Student Expectations & Responsibilities:

  • Will complete and submit the completed Student Course-Based Research Ethics Application to his/her delegated non-REB member reviewer for approval by the deadline provided in class
  • Will complete and submit the TCPS 2: Core Tutorial certificates of completion of all team members or proof of other training assigned by their professor/instructor, along with any applicable final supporting documentation (e.g. consent letter and forms, recruitment correspondence, research instruments, i.e., surveys, test, questionnaires, etc.) and other documentation stated in the form
  • Should review and monitor that all research activities are conducted with the highest ethical standards
  • Should ensure that permission is granted and that all protocols are followed for research conducted at other institutions/entities
  • Should seek advice and guidance from their professor/instructor to request clarifications, ask questions, or communicate concerns