Tool 9: Guidelines for Using HRPP in Curriculum Development

High-quality curriculum development always involves a good degree of research - especially around how representatives from your potential audience respond to your curriculum. Getting input from these people raises the question about whether you need approval from the Human Research Protection Program (HRPP). HRPP is an Institutional Review Board (IRB), and federal and university regulations require that all research projects involving human subjects and materials of human origin be reviewed and approved by an IRB before initiation.

When do you need to get HRPP approval for curriculum development?

For an activity to fall under the university and federal procedures protecting human subjects, it must be labeled research, as defined by the regulations - that is, a formal investigation designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. A human subject of research is an individual from whom an investigator obtains data by interaction or intervention or about whom the researcher obtains confidential information.

Research that would need HRPP approval includes that conducted in established or commonly accepted educational settings, involving normal educational practices, such as research on regular and special education instructional strategies or research on the effectiveness of or the comparison among instructional techniques, curricula or classroom management methods. If you think your project does fall under this definition of research, you would need to seek HRPP approval under Category 1-A in the Exempt from Full Review classification. Some MSUE curriculum development projects, however, do not contain this kind of research component and are specifically excluded from review under the regulations.

What if you’re not sure whether your project needs human subjects approval?

If you’re not sure whether your project needs HRPP approval, check the HRPP Web site at or send an e-mail message to the HRPP office with your specific question at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Last Updated: July 29, 2009; Last Reviewed: April, 2009
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