Experimental Design Considerations – Discussion

Experimental Design Considerations

Discussion (Whole Class): Experimental Design Considerations Experimental designs attempt to limit the possible number of alternative extraneous influences (confounds) so that what is observed as outcomes can be considered to be representative of a direct relationship between input (e.g., a training experience) and output (knowledge and skills gained through the training). The gold standard for experiments is random assignment to condition. However, in the real world we often can’t decide who does and does not receive the training or intervention. There are constraints on whether an intervention can be withheld from someone. Such as those assigned to a control or no treatment/intervention group) if that person might be harmed by not receiving it.

Also, ethical standards safeguard informed consent, which limits most experimental designs to those who volunteer. Which then means we don’t know if the same outcomes would apply. To those who would not volunteer for such a program. Thus, much goes into designing and executing a true experiment for program evaluation. But as long as you are following best practices and the conditions are right to carry it through, it is a strong approach to effective program evaluation. As before, this is another opportunity to think beyond the specifics of the RFP you may be working on for your team project. Even if your RFP would not be appropriate for an experimental design, given the general topic (e.g., school anti-bullying program).

Further Description

Think about what kind of situation might exist for which an experimental design might be applicable to evaluate program effectiveness or other outcomes of interest. To prepare: Review Chapter 11 from your course text listed in this week’s Learning Resources Review at least one of the examples of program evaluation in this week’s Learning Resources. By Day 3Post your comprehensive response to each of the following. Briefly restate the general nature of your team’s RFP’s program (e.g., school anti-bullying program). How might you use an experimental design to test a question that would be relevant to your program evaluation. E.g., compare an outcome for a group that received the program versus one that did not during the same time period.

Especially if the participants are randomly assigned to be in the program/no program groups)?. What is a specific question you could address for your example?. Describe the specifics of your design for addressing this question. What is your independent variable?. What might be a viable dependent variable to answer the question?. Consequently what hypothesis would you be testing for the proposed evaluation?. What would be one method you might use to reduce threats to internal validity with this design?.

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