Kennesaw State University

SoTL and the IRB: Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you to Dr. Christine Ziegler, Director and Chair of the Institutional Review Board, for assisting with the preparation of this page. To submit an application, visit For questions about the IRB process, please contact or call (470) 578-6407. They are here to help!


  • Do SoTL studies require IRB approval, or are they exempt from review?  Any research study that employs human subjects requires IRB approval. Studies that are “exempt” are not exempt from review, they are exempt from the annual continuing review required for either expedited or full board classifications. Whether a study qualifies for an exemption depends on the nature of the study, not where it originates.

  • If SoTL is the only research I’ll do with human subjects, must I complete the CITI training?  Yes. Anyone conducting research that employs human subjects has to complete CITI training.

  • Can I use individual student data from previous semesters in my study? Yes, but you must apply for IRB approval and you must seek individual students’ consent.

  • What about aggregate data? If I want to use aggregate data from a past semester (for example, a class’s average grade on a certain assignment), may I do so without consent from those students? What about aggregate demographic data (e.g., average age) from that same group? Yes, you may use aggregate data from past semesters without consent, but only if you seek IRB approval first, and it is in aggregate, rather than individual, form.

  • Can I request aggregate data from other instructors (for example, the course grades of students in multiple sections of a course over multiple semesters) to use in my study? Do I request this data from Institutional Research? Do I need IRB approval to do so? Yes, but it requires IRB approval. You would request this data from the Office of Institutional Research.

  • What if I’m not planning to publish or present my study? IRB oversight is not required as long it is for the purpose of assessment/evaluation and the information is not shared outside the department. For more information, see

If you have additional suggestions for FAQs, please send them to

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