Chapter Eight: Experimental design

When you think of the term experiment, what comes to mind? Perhaps you thought about trying a new soda or changing your cat’s litter to a different brand. We all design informal experiments in our life. We try new things and seek to learn how those things changed us or how they compare to other things we might try. We even create entertainment programs like Mythbusters whose hosts use experimental methods to test whether common myths or bits of folk knowledge are actually true. It’s likely you’ve already developed an intuitive sense of how experiments work. The content of this chapter will increase your existing competency about using experiments to learn about the social world.

Chapter Outline

  • 8.1 Experimental design: What is it and when should it be used?
  • 8.2 Quasi-experimental and pre-experimental designs
  • 8.3 The logic of experimental design

Content Advisory

This chapter discusses or mentions the following topics: substance abuse; eating disorders; prejudice; hurricane Katrina; domestic violence; racism; poverty; trauma; teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and condom use.


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Foundations of Social Work Research Copyright © 2020 by Rebecca L. Mauldin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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