Teachers are accustomed to collecting students’ test scores, data about performances, and descriptions of behaviors as an essential component of teaching. However, if teachers are conducting action research and they plan to collect data that will be shared outside the school community then permission from parents (or guardians) and students must be obtained in order to protect the privacy of students and their families. Typically, permission is obtained by an informed consent form that summarizes the research, describes the data that will be collected, indicates that participation is voluntary, and provides a guarantee of confidentiality or anonymity (Hubbard & Power, 2005).
Many large school districts have procedures for establishing informed consent as well as person in the central office who is responsible for the district guidelines and specific application process. If the action research is supported in some way by a college of university (e.g. through a class) then informed consent procedures of that institution must be followed.
One common area of confusion for teachers is the voluntary nature of student participation in research. If the data being collected are for a research study, students can choose not to participate. This is contrary to much regular classroom instruction where teachers tell students they have to do the work or complete the tasks.