Classroom-Based Research in College Writing

Apr 14 2010

Classroom-Based Research in College Writing

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The Conference on College Composition and Communication has several position statements on the ethical treatment of students in composition studies research. These position statements share the premise that, “Inquiry in composition studies often focuses on students and student writing. Although composition specialists embrace a variety of theoretical frameworks and research methodologies, they share a commitment to protecting the rights, privacy, dignity, and well-being of the students who are involved in their studies” (Guidelines for the Ethical Treatment of Students and Student Writing in Composition Studies). Further, many of the discipline’s journals now require Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval and/or evidence of students’ informed consent before they will publish classroom-based research.

Additionally, our local IRB reminds us that:

“IRB review and approval is required for any research involving human subjects that: is conducted by University faculty, staff, students; is performed on the premises of the University (even if conducted by persons not affiliated with Elon); is performed with or involves the use of facilities or equipment belonging to the University (even if conducted by persons not affiliated with Elon); or involves University, students, staff, or faculty (even if conducted off-campus).”

“Institutional Review Board – General Information”

Special Announcement from the IRB:
Starting June 1, 2010 all IRB applicants must complete CITI human research subjects’ training and submit a certificate of completion along with their IRB application to the IRB Chair.

Katie King, working on behalf of CATL, created a helpful handout (attached) on seeking IRB approval for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning projects. In addition, if you are conducting research in your College Writing classroom or about first-year writing and writers, you should familiarize yourself with the professional position statements on the ethical issues associated with writing research; these statements are accessible at:


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