Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs

Matthew Morton and Paul Montgomery

in Social Work

ISBN: 9780195389678
Published online June 2011 | | DOI:
Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs

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In strengthening social work’s ability to improve lives and communities, experimental design can play a critical role in helping stakeholders better understand what works in achieving positive impacts. Experimental design studies aim to test whether a specific “intervention” (or “treatment”) causes change in specific outcomes. Experiments test for this cause-and-effect relationship by exposing a group of research participants to the intervention and observing for any differences in changes of behavior between the intervention group and another group that does not receive the intervention. The group that does not receive the intervention is typically called a “control” or “comparison” group. Notably some literature reserves the term “experimental design” for studies in which participants are randomly assigned to intervention or control groups. Other literature, however, defines the term more broadly to include what some would classify as “quasi-experimental” or “nonrandomized” trials in which an intervention is applied to one group in order to detect changes but assignment to groups occurs through a method of selection other than randomization. This bibliography will consider experimental design in the broader context of both randomized and nonrandomized trials, but it will also supply references that clarify the special ability of randomized controlled trials to reduce bias and strengthen the credibility of experimental findings that guarantee causality. The field of experimental design includes considerable diversity with respect to specific methods, applications, and perspectives. This bibliography aims to organize some of the foremost texts and papers concerning experimental design to provide readers with (a) useful introductions to experimental design and basic principles, (b) practical references for specific audiences or topics of interest, and (c) a rounded tour of the views and debates surrounding experimental design.

Article.  7405 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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