Experimental Research

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Experimental Research and The Key Components of
A Successful Experiment
Ehsan Jamil

Seneca College
Laura Cavanagh
February 4, 2013

Abstract
This paper explores the experimental research method and specifically the experiment conducted by Professor Smith, a Psychology professor who has a hypothesis that Vitamin E improves memory, to determine the flaws in her experiment. In the process, the paper also clearly explains the various key factors which determine the outcome and accuracy of the method of experimental research, such as dependent variables, independent variables, experimental groups, and control groups. This paper examines the factors that render Professor Smith’s experiment as flawed, and finally attempts to redesign an experiment to successfully test the effects of Vitamin E on memory.

Experimental Research and The Key Components of
A Successful Experiment
Experimental research is the scientific method used by psychologists to answer some important cause and effect questions about behaviour and other phenomena of interest. Experimental research investigates the relationship between variables by intentionally causing a change in one variable in a situation, and then studying the effects of that change on other aspects of the situation ( Feldman & Dinardo, 2012 ). The independent variable in experimental research is manipulated by the researcher and is the variable whose effects the researcher attempts to investigate. The dependent variable in experimental research is the response or effect acquired as a result of the independent variable. Participants in experimental research are always divided into two groups, an experimental group and a control group. The experimental group is the group participating in an experiment which receives a treatment in order to assess the effects of the independent variable on that group, while the control group receives no treatment. The experimental group’s behaviours or actions in a situation are manipulated by the independent variable, while the control group is not influenced in any way by the independent variable being investigated. The control group has to be equal in all aspects to the experimental group except for the presence of the independent variable, which would differentiate the behaviours, events, or other characteristics of the two groups. This is done in order to accurately investigate the true effects of an independent variable.

Professor Smith’s Experiment
Professor Smith conducts an experiment to test her hypothesis that Vitamin E improves memory. Before a quiz in her class, she provides half the class with lemonade juice-boxes and Vitamin E, which is the independent variable in this experiment. The remaining half of the class aren’t given anything. Professor Smith divides the class into two groups of twenty students. The first twenty students to arrive are made to sit in the front of the class, this is the experimental group who receive the independent variable, Vitamin E. The other twenty students are made to sit in the back, this is the control group who receive nothing. She then gives them a quiz. Once it is completed, she discovers that the experimental group who received Vitamin E scored an average of 3 points higher than the control group who received nothing. The score on the quiz is the dependent variable of this experiment, and the factor being measured in order to determine the effects of Vitamin E.

Flaws of Professor Smith’s Experimental Design and Conclusion
A set of meticulous guidelines need to be followed in order to conduct an experimental research and achieve an accurate result or conclusion. According to Abdi ( 2009 ), a researcher must impose controls to ensure that changes in the independent variable are the only things that affect the dependent variable in an experiment in order to ensure it’s validity. The first flaw with Professor Smith’s experimental...
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