Conduct research

Gathering experiment data

STEP 6. Conduct the experiment

Before you begin, you will need to get approval from the university's Institutional Review Board and obtain an informed consent from each participant, which explains the purpose, and potential risks or benefits of the study.  Make sure to outline what you will ask participants to do and what information you will gather. 

Then, emphasize to subjects that participation is voluntary, discuss confidentiality and anonymity, and explain the purpose of the experiment with or without IRB approved deception.  For example, avoid providing specific information about the purpose if it might communicate your expectations and bias the results.  Furthermore, avoid creating different expectations among groups you are comparing.

Be aware that participants may adopt an attitude that interferes with obtaining valid results. For example, they may be overly cooperative to please you, defensive if they're worried about what they will be asked to do, or negative if they perceive that they're compelled to participate.

Recognize that you will have missing data if some participants are absent or careless when completing a questionnaire or other measure. Immediately checking and asking participants to complete items can reduce missing data.

Measure the outcome variable before an intervention to determine whether there is a significant difference between groups prior to treatment. If pre-intervention differences exist, it is still possible to account for these differences statistically.

If you are implementing an intervention, such as introducing a new instructional technology, consistently follow the procedures outlined during the design phase, performing regular checks to maintain its integrity.

Page last updated: Sep 21 2011
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