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- An Experimental Design is the laying out of a detailed experimental plan in advance of doing the experiment. Well chosen experimental designs maximize the amount of "information" that can be obtained for a given amount of experimental effort. It is an efficient procedure used for planning experiments so that the data to be obtained can be analyzed to yield valid and objective conclusions. It also involves using a type of experimental procedure. One needs to indicate the overall type, the independent variables, and a clear visual model for the procedure in order to have a good experimental design. How is Experimental Design different from Experimental Method? - Experimental Design is the detailed experimental plan while the Experimental Method involves manipulating one of the variables to determine if changes in one variable cause changes in another variable. This method relies on controlled methods, random assignment and the manipulation of variables to test a hypothesis. How is Experimental Design different from Data Gathering Tools? - Data Gathering Tools are involved with the collection and observation of data throughout the experiment. Experimental Group vs. Comparison Group - In the simplest type of experiment, we create two groups that are "equivalent" to each other. One group (the program or treatment group) gets the program and the other group (the comparison or control group) does not. In all other respects, the groups are treated the same. They have similar people, live in similar contexts, have similar backgrounds, and so on. Now, if we observe differences in outcomes between these two groups, then the differences must be due to the only thing that differs between them -the one got the program and the other didn't. Experimental Group Designs *Posttest-Only Control Group Design: This design controls for any confounding effects of a pretest and is a popular experimental design. The subjects are assigned randomly to groups, a pretest and the treatment are given to only the experimental group, and both groups are measured on the posttest. * Solomon Four Group Design: A special case of a 2x2 factorial design, this procedure involves the random assignment of subjects to four groups. Pretests and treatments are varied for the four groups. All groups receive a posttest. Pretest-Posttest Control Group Design: A traditional, classic design, this procedure involves the random assignment of subjects to two groups, the administration of a pretest and a posttest to both groups, and the treatment administered to only the experimental Group A. * R indicates random assignment of subjects to conditions X represents manipulation or an exposure of a group to an experimental variable or event, the effects of which are to be measured. O represents an observation or measurement. The horizontal alignment indicates the temporal order. The vertical alignment indicates comparison groups not equated by random assignment. When is R necessary and why? - R is necessary for it indicates random assignment and random assignment is the key to success of the experiment. When is Pretest necessary and why? When is control group necessary and why? - Control Group is always necessary because it determines the effect of the treatment if there is any. Internal Validity - Refers to the ruling out of other explanations of the relation between independent and dependent variables. - Refers to the generalization of conclusions within a given study itself. - The approximate truth about inferences regarding causeeffect or causal relationships. Threats to Internal Validity Confounding A major threat to the validity of causal inferences is Confounding: Changes in the dependent variable may rather be attributed to the existence or variations in the degree of a third variable which is related to the manipulated variable. Where Spurious relationships cannot be ruled out, rival hypothesis to the original causal inference hypothesis of the researcher may be developed. Selection Bias Selection bias refers to the problem that, at pre-test, differences between groups exist that may interact with the independent variable and thus be 'responsible' for the observed outcome. Researchers and participants bring to the experiment a myriad of characteristics, some learned and others inherent. For example, sex, weight, hair, eye, and skin color, personality, mental capabilities, and physical abilities, but also attitudes like motivation or willingness to participate.
etc. Regression toward the mean This type of error occurs when subjects are selected on the basis of extreme scores (one far away from the mean) during a test. color of hair. For example. If this attrition is systematically related to any feature of the study. or the historical event. when children with the worst reading scores are selected to participate in a reading course. the percentage of group members having quit smoking at posttest was found much higher in a group having received a quit-smoking training program than in the control group. If the children had been tested again before the course started. the instrumentation. or if dropping out leads to relevant bias between groups. in which the experimenter is not aware of the condition to which a participant belongs. If a discrepancy between the two groups occurs between the testing. Instrument change The instrument used during the testing process can change the experiment. For example. So upon completion of the study. the internal validity of the main conclusion is affected. if an unequal number of test subjects have similar subjectrelated variables there is a threat to the internal validity.. For example. a whole class of alternative explanations is possible that account for the observed differences. that the independent variable has no effect or that there is no relationship between dependent and independent variable. age. however. the administration of the independent variable. participants may have dropped out of the study before completion. but instead of concluding that the underlying skills have changed for good. Likewise. they would likely have obtained better scores anyway. and the time-related variables. this does not mean that the independent variable produced no effect or that there is no relationship between dependent and independent variable. Both permanent changes.) that affect participants' attitudes and behaviors such that it becomes impossible to determine whether any change on the dependent measures is due to the independent variable. young children might mature and their ability to concentrate may change as they grow up. Compensatory rivalry/resentful demoralization Behaviour in the control groups may alter as a result of the study. physical size. changes in the dependent variable may only be effected due to a demoralized control group. Participants may remember the correct answers or may be conditioned to know that they are being tested. Diffusion If treatment effects spread from treatment groups to control groups. and maybe even due to the study or programme or experiment itself. extreme outliers on individual scores are more likely to be captured in one instance of testing but will likely evolve into a more normal distribution with repeated testing. Often. Selection-maturation interaction This occurs when the subject-related variables. improvements at the end of the course might be due to regression toward the mean and not the course's effectiveness. as alternative explanations are readily available. not due to the independent variable. However. History Events outside of the study/experiment or between repeated measures of the dependent variable may affect participants' responses to experimental procedures. It is possible to eliminate the possibility of experimenter bias through the use of double blind study designs. these are large scale events (natural disaster. in the experimental group only 60% have completed the program. the experimental and the control groups. etc. working less hard or motivated. control group members may work extra hard to see that expected superiority of the experimental group is not demonstrated. However. a lack of differences between experimental and control groups may be observed. etc. Mortality/differential attrition This error occurs if inferences are made on the basis of only those participants that have participated from the start to the end. Experimenter bias Experimenter bias occurs when the individuals who are conducting an experiment inadvertently affect the outcome by non-consciously behaving differently to members of control and experimental groups. For example. this threat to Internal Validity provides good rival hypotheses. Maturation Subjects change during the course of the experiment or even between measurements. Repeatedly taking (the same or similar) intelligence tests usually leads to score gains. the discrepancy may be due to the age differences in the age categories. provide "natural" alternative explanations. This does not mean. If any instrumentation changes occur. . The subjects in both groups are not alike with regard to the independent variable but similar in one or more of the subject-related variables. For example. skin color. the researcher may not be able to determine if the cause of the discrepancy is due to time or the independent variable. such as physical growth and temporary ones like fatigue. a researcher created two test groups. Vice-versa.. Again. This also refers to observers being more concentrated or primed. they may change the way a subject would react to the independent variable. thus.During the selection step of the research study. Repeated testing Repeatedly measuring the participants may lead to bias. interact. political change.
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