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Important Concepts Relating to Research Design

Before describing the different research designs, it will be appropriate to explain the various concepts relating to designs so that these may be better and easily understood.

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1. Dependent and independent variables:

A concept which can take on different quantitative values is called a variable. As such the concepts like weight, height, income are all examples of variables. Qualitative phenomena (or the attributes) are also quantified on the basis of the presence or absence of the concerning attribute(s). Phenomena which can take on quantitatively different values even in decimal points are called 'continuous variables'. * But all variables are not continuous. If they can only be expressed in integer values, they are non-continuous variables or in statistical language' discrete variables '. ** Age is an example of continuous variable, but the number of children is an example of noncontinuous variable. If one variable depends upon or is a consequence of the other variable, it is termed as a dependent variable, and the variable that is antecedent to the dependent variable is termed as an independent variable. For instance, if we say that height depends upon age, then height is a dependent variable and age is an independent variable. Further, if in addition to being dependent upon age, height ~so depends upon the individual's sex, then height is a dependent variable and age and sex are independent variables. Similarly, readymade fil1 and lectures are examples of independent variables, whereas behavioural changes, occurring as a result of the environmental manipulations, are examples of dependent variables.

2. Extraneous variable:

Independent variables that are not related to the purpose of the study, but may affect the dependent variable are termed as extraneous variables. Suppose the researcher wants to test the hypothesis that there is a relationship between children's gains in social studies achievement and their self-concepts. In this case self-concept is an independent variable and social studies achievement is a dependent variable. Intelligence may as well affect the social studies achievement, but since it is not related to the purpose of the study undertaken by the researcher, it will be termed as an extraneous variable. Whatever effect is noticed on dependent variable as a result of extraneous variable(s) is technically described as an 'experimental error'. A study must always be so designed that the effect upon the dependent variable is attributed entirely to the independent variable( s), and not to some extraneous variable or variables.

3. Control:

One important characteristic of a good research design is to minimise the influence or effect of extraneous variable(s). The technical term 'control' is used when we design the study minimising the effects of extraneous independent variables. In experimental researches, the term 'control' is used to refer to restrain experimental conditions.

4. Confounded Relationship:

When the dependent variable is not free from the influence of extraneous variable(s), the relationship between the dependent and independent variables is said to be confounded by an extraneous variable(s).

5. Research:

hypothesis when a prediction or a hypothesised relationship is to be tested by scientific methods, it is termed as research hypothesis. The research hypothesis is a predictive statement that relates an independent variable to a dependent variable. Usually a research hypothesis must contain, at least, one independent and one dependent variable. Predictive statements which are not to be objectively verified or the relationships that are assumed but not to be tested are not termed research hypotheses.

6. Experimental and non-experimental hypothesis-testing research:

When the purpose of research is to test a research hypothesis, it is termed as hypothesis-testing research. It can be of the experimental design or of the non-experimental design. Research in which the independent variable is manipulated is termed 'experimental hypothesis-testing research' and a research in which an independent variable is not manipulated is called 'nonexperimental hypothesis-testing research’. For instance, suppose a researcher wants to study whether intelligence affects reading ability for a group

1) A continuous variable is that which can assume any numerical value within a specific range.

2) A variable for which the individual values fall on the scale only with distinct gaps is called a discrete variable.

Of students and for this purpose he randomly selects 50 students and tests their intelligence and reading ability by calculating the coefficient of correlation between the two sets of scores. This is an example of non-experimental hypothesis-testing research because herein the independent variable, intelligence, is not manipulated. But now suppose that our researcher randomly selects 50 students from a group of students who are to take a course in statistics and then divides them into two groups by randomly assigning 25 to Group A, the usual studies programme, and 25 to Group B, the special studies programme. At the end of the course, he administers a test to each group in order to judge the effectiveness of the training programme on the student's performance-level. This is an example of experimental hypothesistesting research because in this case the independent variable, viz., the type of training programme, is manipulated.

7. Experimental and control groups:

In an experimental hypothesis-testing research when a group is exposed to usual conditions, it is termed a 'control group', but when the group is exposed to some novel or special condition, it is termed an 'experimental group'. In the above illustration, the Group A can be called a control group and the Group Ban experimental group. If both groups A and B are exposed to special studies programmes, then both groups would be termed 'experimental groups.' It is possible to design studies which include only experimental groups or studies which include both experimental and control groups.

8. Treatments:

The different conditions under which experimental and control groups are put are usually referred to as 'treatments'. In the illustration taken above, the two treatments are the usual studies programme and the special studies programme. Similarly, if we want to determine through an experiment the comparative impact of three varieties of fertilizers on the yield of wheat, in that case the three varieties of fertilizers will be treated as three treatments.

9. Experiment:

The process of examining the truth of a statistical hypothesis, relating to some research problem, is known as an experiment. For example, we can conduct an experiment to examine the usefulness of a certain newly developed drug. Experiments can be of two types viz., absolute experiment and comparative experiment. If we want to determine the impact of a fertilizer on the yield of a crop, it is a case of absolute experiment; but if we want to determine the impact of one fertilizer as compared to the impact of some other fertilizer, our experiment then will be termed as a comparative experiment. Often, we undertake comparative experiments when we talk of designs of experiments.

10. Experimental Unit(s):

The pre-determined plots or the blocks, where different treatments are Ed, are known as experimental units. Such experimental units must be selected (defined) very carefully.

Authour Dr. R. Balasubramani

Read 1048 times Last modified on Thursday, 24 May 2018 12:00
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