I recently attended a seminar on IRBs (Institutional Review Boards) for Human Subjects Research. It was said that if students were doing any "research" in their courses involving human subjects from outside the course, this would likely need IRB approval. Sounds good, but I asked if this approval is needed even if the "research" is very informal, e.g., if students are presented with these sorts of assignment prompts: "Ask at least 3 people what they think about this topic," or "Ask at least three people what they think are common reasons to think p or not p (e.g., that doing X is wrong, that we have free will, that there is a God, etc." and so on: casual inquiry into what people think about philosophical issues.It was told that these potentially common learning activities might require IRB approval: it was pointed out that students might videotape their "research" and who knows what might come from that; perhaps people would somehow be harmed by being asked these sorts of questions.
I suspect that many philosophy instructors attempt to get students to
do these sorts of informal surveys and/and, at least, encourage them to
discuss class issues with people who are not in the class. My question, then, is whether anyone has encountered this issue and has done much to determine whether approval is indeed required for such activities, at least at their school. Thanks.