IRB and our Terms of Use

To Run a Study
The four steps you must complete to have a study run in ASSISTments are:

  1. Have your home institution's IRB approve your study. Your study cannot be run with our subject pool until this approval letter has been given to the WPI team. To make it easier to gain approval, please provide your institution's IRB with the signed Terms of Use (below).
  2. To use our subject pool sign the WPI IRB approved Terms of Use available below. Among other things, this commits you to not trying to de-anonymize the data. If you do not use our subject pool you will be asked to sign a similar form to receive the data. 
  3. Design your study that will be used with our subject pool so that WPI's IRB would view as qualifying as "normal instructional practice" one of the exemptions that the WPI IRB uses to approves this whole system. That does not mean you need to get your institution's IRB board to use that same exemption, please see Commonly Asked Questions below for the many different ways universities treat this questions. Nonetheless, the WPI IRB needs to see your study compares normal instructional strategies. 
  4. Design a great study with well-thought out research questions. Even if WPI thinks your study qualifies as "normal instructional practice," and your home institution's IRB approves it, Professor Heffernan needs to think your research question and your content is good and that it will not embarrass ASSISTments's credibility with teachers and students. Professor Heffernan needs think that your study is minimally disruptive, defined here.  

Terms of Use
Familiarize yourself with the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved documents that govern the terms of use of ASSISTments for the retrieval of data. You should  share this with your IRB when you apply for a study. It shows that you will not be given student names. This makes it easier for you to get your study approved.  

    Click this image to get the entire "terms of use" document.

WPI IRB Updated 2017


Commonly Asked Questions

  1. How have other researchers dealt with their IRB? Do you have any advice for me and what exemption should I try to have my study approved under?  Our Answer: Other researchers have used a number of different strategies that you can read about here.
  2. What does it take for my experiment to be "minimally disruptive?" Our Answer: See here.
  3. Can I decide to not share my data and my materials? Our Answer: The answer is "No" and here is why.
  4. Why does WPI think the country needs this? Our Answer:  See here for why we think we need more randomized controlled experiments in education and why your study could help.
  5. Why is WPI making me commit to not de-anonymiz my data if WPI thinks the data is already anonymized? Our Answer: The answer is here.
  6. Why should I should submit a study when this is all student-level randomization? Our Answer: There are some downsides to student-level randomization that we discuss here
  7. Can I ask students to tell me their name? Our Answer: No 
  8. Can I use this to evaluate a commercial product? Our Answer: Yes, but you need to negotiate a license with WPI if you have a conflict of interest with the company. See why here
  9. How can I learn more about WPI's IRB approval process? Our Answer:  See here for some details.