Writing@CSU Guide

Designing and Conducting Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Research

You approach a stainless-steel wall, separated vertically along its middle where two halves meet. After looking to the left, you see two buttons on the wall to the right. You press the top button and it lights up. A soft tone sounds and the two halves of the wall slide apart to reveal a small room. You step into the room. Looking to the left, then to the right, you see a panel of more buttons. You know that you seek a room marked with the numbers 1-0-1-2, so you press the button marked "10." The halves slide shut and enclose you within the cubicle, which jolts upward. Soon, the soft tone sounds again. The door opens again. On the far wall, a sign silently proclaims, "10th floor."

You have engaged in a series of experiments. A ride in an elevator may not seem like an experiment, but it, and each step taken towards its ultimate outcome, are common examples of a search for a causal relationship-which is what experimentation is all about.

You started with the hypothesis that this is in fact an elevator. You proved that you were correct. You then hypothesized that the button to summon the elevator was on the left, which was incorrect, so then you hypothesized it was on the right, and you were correct. You hypothesized that pressing the button marked with the up arrow would not only bring an elevator to you, but that it would be an elevator heading in the up direction. You were right.

As this guides explains, the deliberate process of testing hypotheses and reaching conclusions is an extension of commonplace testing of cause and effect relationships.

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