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The True Experimental Research Design

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  • 0:05 Example and Definition
  • 0:45 Experimental Research
  • 4:21 When a True Experiment…
  • 5:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lisa Roundy

Lisa has taught at all levels from kindergarten to college and has a master's degree in human relations.

You need to set up a true experiment to test a hypothesis and demonstrate a cause and effect relationship. This lesson will teach you how this is accomplished and when you are forced to use other research designs.

Example and Definition

Let's imagine that you recently went out dancing with your friends at two different clubs. The first dance club had a disco ball hanging from the ceiling, and the second club did not. You started wondering if dancing under a disco ball made people dance better. You want to prove that a true cause and effect relationship exists between the disco ball and better dance moves. How would you go about testing this idea?

Since you want to demonstrate a cause and effect relationship between the disco ball and better dance moves, you would need to perform a true experiment. In a true experiment, effort is made to control all influences other than the ones that are being studied.

Experimental Research

True experiments are used in human growth and development research whenever they are feasible. This is because they are the only way to prove the existence of a cause and effect relationship between two variables. A true experiment will include all parts of the experimental process. To understand what this means, let's walk through the process of developing your experiment to test whether a disco ball makes a person dance better.

First, you will develop a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a testable statement that is logically derived from theory or observation. Based on your observations at the dance clubs last weekend, your hypothesis is that a person will dance better when a disco ball is present.

Now that we have your hypothesis, we need to talk about variables. A variable is an aspect of the research environment that can change. Controlling variables allows the researcher to determine a cause and effect relationship between what is being studied. In order to test for one variable, the researcher needs to have full control over all aspects of the environment. Then one aspect, or variable, is manipulated.

The variable that is manipulated in an experiment is called the independent variable. In your experiment, the independent variable is the disco ball. Another aspect, or variable, is measured. The researcher does not control this variable. The variable that is measured in an experiment is called the dependent variable. In your experiment, the dependent variable is dance ability. So, you have your hypothesis and variables, but how do you test the independent variable? Let's keep setting up the experiment and find out.

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