The next full board review is on August 25, 2015.

If you are beginning research, please review this website before continuing with the submission process. We ask that researchers review the Federal Regulations as well as UST Internal Policy located under Policies and Procedures. All research proposals are submitted through  Be sure to review the tutorial before attempting to submit any research documents. The Frequently Asked Questions tab will answer any questions about your research.  If you have any additional questions, please contact us.

IRB Research News

Kevin Henderson, PhD presents: Lego Assembly Activity

The goal of this project is to assess a classroom activity pertaining to group structure.  Structure is a topic that is quite difficult to teach given that the focus tends to be at the organizational level, which can be quite abstract and difficult to grasp (especially for undergraduate students).  This activity is meant to show students how the way a group is structured can impact group performance, as well as a group member's attitudes and experiences in both positive and negative ways.  The hope is that this research will provide MGMT teachers with another tool that they can use when they teach the topic of structure in their classes. 

Jerome Organ, JD presents: Survey of Law Student Well Being

This will be the first multi-school study of substance use among law students since 1993, the first study to assess nonmedical use or misuse of prescription stimulants among law students (which anecdotal evidence suggests is increasingly common), and the first ever multi-school study of mental health issues among law students.   These issues present problems for law students during their academic careers and as practicing attorneys. There is an historical body of literature that suggests law students engage in disproportionate levels of alcohol and substance use and disproportionately experience mental health issues in comparison with similarly aged peers (Beck, Sales, & Benjamin,1995; AALS, 1993; Sheldon & Krieger, 2004).  The Association of American Law Schools (AALS) conducted a survey on substance abuse among law students in the early 1990s, resulting in a report issued in 1993 (AALS, 1993).  Based on survey responses form 3,388 students at 19 law schools, the survey showed that the problem of substance use was serious and that there was a tendency by American law schools to ignore or deny the existence of the problem. While more recent data do not exist on the prevalence of current or recent law students’ dependence on or misuse of alcohol and/or other substances, there has been a fair amount of research on the “feeder” population for law schools – college students.  Research on college students between the ages of 18 and 24 shows that 19 percent of college students ages 18–24 met criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence, but that only 5 percent of these students sought treatment for their alcohol problems (NIH Publication No. 07–5010, Nov. 2007).  Given that alcoholism is understood to be a progressive disease and given survey data showing increased binge drinking among college students between 1999 and 2005, it is reasonable to anticipate that law students also could be drinking more (Hingson, Zha & Weitzmann, 2009).  In addition, data on abuse of prescription stimulants among college students (a behavior that was not measured in the AALS 1993 study) demonstrates that roughly 6 percent of college students engaged in non-medical use or misuse of prescription stimulants at least once in the last year (although there are wide variations in results across institutions) (Teter, McCabe, LaGrange, Cranford, Boyd, 2006; McCabe, Knight, Teter & Wechsler, 2005; Hall, Irwin, Bowman, Frankenberger & Jewett, 2005; Dunn, 2006; Low & Gendaszek, 2002; White, Becker-Blease & Bishop, 2005). A limited set of studies using single-school samples also suggest elevated levels of emotional distress among law students.  Benjamin, Kazniak, Sales, & Shanfield (1986) examined emotional distress and levels of self-reported stress in law students and found elevated symptoms of anxiety and depression among other mental health indicators when compared with a population sample and medical students.  Furthermore, the level of emotional distress increased significantly over the course of law school. The occurrence of psychiatric symptoms was not correlated with descriptive or demographic variables in their law student sample, suggesting a contributory role for the experience of law school.  The results of other, more recent qualitative investigations by legal educators are consistent (Dammeyer & Nunez, 1999).  In a more recent study, Sheldon & Krieger (2004) examined emotional distress and well-being in law students.  This study confirmed previous work by demonstrating decreases in well-being and increases in depression and negative affect over the course of the first year of law school and over the course of the law school career.  Sheldon & Krieger also showed a shift among law students from being intrinsically motivated to being extrinsically motivated and demonstrated that the decline in well-being among law students was correlated with a lack of autonomy support.  Although there have been no national, or even multi-campus, studies of mental health problems among law students, recent national data on college students indicate a worrisome trend.  Measures of depressive and anxiety symptoms are rising in college populations (Twenge, Gentile, DeWall, Mad, Lacefielde & Schurtz, 2010), and most students with mental disorders are not receiving any form of professional treatment (Blanco, Okuda, Wright, Hasin, Grant, Liu & Olfson, 2008).  These facts beg the questions of whether law student populations are experiencing similar increases and whether law schools are prepared to provide appropriate assistance.     

Joseph Stangler presents: Standardizing Elementary Language Arts Instruction: Does Learning for All Really Mean Learning for ALL?

The purpose of this mixed-methods case study will be to determine the factors that contribute to differences in students’ reading achievement scores 2 years after the implementation of a new elementary language arts curriculum. Quantitative data, in the form of student achievement results, will be examined through the qualitative lenses of change theory and critical pedagogy to better understand the influences of district-led change on building principals and teachers. This study will add to prior research on school reform efforts by providing an in-depth look at changes in student achievement and examining the possible factors that contribute to differences within schools located in the same school district.


Privacy Statement

As University policy states, the Office of the University Registrar provides student information only for the completion of official University business by employees of the University in administrative, supervisory, academic, or support staff positions. The information must be used within the limits of their legitimate educational interest as defined by the University. An employee is determined to have legitimate educational interest if the information requested is used to perform their University specified position duties. The Office of the University Registrar does not provide information to third parties except to assist with official University business, to comply with government regulations, and to fulfill court ordered mandates. 

The official response to requests for student information for use outside of official University business is to decline to provide the information in order to comply with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the student’s right to confidentiality. This protects the student from breaches of their privacy, misuse of their information, and from the receipt of unsolicited and unwanted messages from external parties.  This also applies to any research that has been approved by the IRB, as approval by the IRB does not include approval for the release of University information.

What is an Institutional Review Board (IRB)?

Institutional Review Boards are established to assess research proposals and determine whether a study is ethical.  The IRB works to protect the rights of all individuals within a study by assuring that each step of the research process is performed effectively and ethically.  The IRB also works closely with mandated Government regulations to assure that all human subject research meets National standards. At the University of St. Thomas, the IRB is a committee charged with meeting to investigate student and faculty research proposals in order to ensure their moral standard.


The Institutional Review Board strives to develop morally responsible individuals.  Rooted in the teachings of a Catholic university as well as with federal regulations, the University of St. Thomas IRB is committed to a policy of safeguarding the dignity, rights, and privacy of all human subjects of scientific research.  The IRB at the University of St. Thomas is committed to assisting faculty, staff, and student researchers in meeting the highest ethical and professional standards for the use of human subjects in scientific research.

For more information:

Sarah Muenster-Blakley, M.A.
Director, Institutional Review Board

Helpful Links

Office for Human Research Protections
Grants and Research Office
National Institutes of Health


All applications are now submitted through the new Compliance and Research Management software.  Visit IRBNET.ORG to get started.

Institutional Review Board Protocol Trends 1996-2012