Analyzing & Interpreting the Results of Randomized Experiments

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  • 0:00 Analyzing the Results…
  • 0:33 Understanding the Experiment
  • 1:39 The Limitations of…
  • 3:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Cathryn Jackson

Cat has taught a variety of subjects, including communications, mathematics, and technology. Cat has a master's degree in education and is currently working on her Ph.D.

Analyzing and interpreting the results of an experiment can be a confusing process, and it's easy to make mistakes. This lesson will help you understand the important factors of experiment analysis.

Analyzing the Results of an Experiment

Whether you've conducted your own experiment or are required to look at an already completed experiment, your final step will be to analyze the results of this experiment. However, analyzing data isn't just adding a few numbers together and making a chart. When analyzing any experiment, keep a few things in mind. You will need to:

  • Understand the experiment.
  • Know the limits of the experiment.

First, let's discuss the importance of understanding the experiment when conducting your analysis.

Understanding the Experiment

When trying to understand the experiment, you may think 'Hey, I know the experiment, I conducted it!' However, we need to take it a step further in understanding the experiment on two levels:

  1. Organizing your data.
  2. Critically analyzing your data.

First, you'll need to understand how to organize your data for analysis. You will need to ask yourself a few questions about your experiment first:

  1. How is the independent variable being measured?
  2. How is the dependent variable being measured?
  3. What types of data are the independent and dependent variables?

Once you understand the data being used in your experiment, then you can better understand how to organize your data.

Second, you'll need to critically analyze your own data. Be honest in your assessment of your experiment. Were there any mistakes that were made? Do you think there were any confounding variables or biases? What was your sample size? Consider the ethics in this particular research. Are you focused on confirming your hypothesis? Did this interfere with how you conducted the research?

The Limitations of Your Experiment

You need to understand the limits of your experiment. This is important because in order to analyze and infer information about the experiment, you have to know exactly what the experiment can tell you and what it can't.

Most experiments will have what's called internal validity, which is when an experiment measures the variables that it was designed to measure. For example, let's say you were conducting an experiment to find out if a certain plant will help in weight loss. If you conduct your experiment by weighing the individuals that are taking this plant supplement each week, then the weight on the scale is your method of measurement. You may know that a pound of muscle and a pound of fat are the same things. Therefore, if the individual is gaining the same amount of weight in muscle as they are losing in fat, you may have some issues in internal validity when using the scale as your primarily weight loss measurement tool.

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