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San Diego State University

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Lesson 7: Surveys Involving Minors

Overview

Minors are classified as a vulnerable group in human research. This applies to survey data collection activities as well. It is, therefore, necessary to provide additional protections for minors when involving them in the use of surveys. Understanding these requirements is the focus of this lesson. The lesson examines when involving minors in a data collection activity will require an IRB review and what types of consent is required to complete the survey. The lesson also looks ways minors may be subject to risk when participating in a survey.

Lesson Objectives

The lesson addresses the following points:
  1. clarify conditions when surveys involving minors will require formal IRB review
  2. assess whether questions asked of minors would require parental/guardian consent
  3. evaluate whether survey involve putting minors at risk

Lesson Resources

Learning Activities

  1. Minors, harm, and IRB
    1. Have students review the three online resources.
    2. Develop a chart that illustrates the potential risks of harm to and what conditions may require IRB review of a survey
  2. Consent and assent letter
    1. Have students review the Ethics and Informed Consent web page from the University of Connecticut
    2. Discuss and list the elements that would be required to include in a consent letter for parents and an assent letter for minors.
    3. Have students produce a parental consent letter and an assent document for use with minors participating in a survey.

Reflection/Discussion Topics

  1. Why do we consider minors a vulnerable population? What other groups are vulnerable populations?
  2. What reasons can you provide for supporting the need to get minors assent even after parental/guardian consent is provided for a minor to participate in a survey?
  3. What techniques might you use to mitigate the risk of harm to minors completing surveys?

Additional Resources

San Diego State University. (n.d.). IRB quick reference guide for education research.