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STEPS OF THE EXPERIMENTAL METHOD

The steps of the experimental method are essentially those of the scientific method. For the sake of clarification, they may be listed as follows:
1.      Selecting and delimiting the problem:
The problems amenable to experimentation generally can, and should, be converted into a hypothesis that can be verified of refuted by the experimental data. The variables to be investigated should be defined in operational terms for example, the scores on a test of acceptable validity.
2. Reviewing the literature.
3. Preparing the experimental design:
While it should also include a clarification of such basic aspects of the design as the place and the duration of the experiment, this section should place primary emphasis on the questions of control, randomization, and replication. Because of the complexity of an experiment, it is generally advisable to conduct a pilot study in order to ensure the adequacy of the design.
4. Defining the population:
It is necessary to define the population precisely so that there can be no question about the population to which the conclusions are to apply.
5. Carrying out the experiment:
It is necessary here to insist on close adherence to plans, especially as they relate to the factors of control, randomization and replication. The duration of the experiment should be such that the variable under investigation is given sufficient time to promote changes that can be measured and to nullify the influence of such extraneous factors as novelty.
6. Measuring the outcomes:
 Careful consideration must be given to the selection of the criterion on the basis of which the results are to be measured, for the fate of the experiment depends in no small measure on the fairness of the criterion used.
7. Analyzing and interpreting the outcomes:
The investigator is concerned with the operation of the factor under study. He must be especially sensitive to the possibility that the results of his study arose through the operation of uncontrolled extraneous factors. He must further exclude, at a given probability level, the possibility that his experimental findings are simply the results of chance. In no other area of educational research is the need for competence in statistical procedures so clearly indicated as in the analysis of experimental data as the basis of their valid interpretation. Of course, statistics cannot correct fulfils in the design or overcome inadequacies in the basic data. The investigator must recognize that statistical tools do not relieve the scientist of his responsibility for planning the study for controlling extraneous factors and for obtaining valid and precise measurements. It can also be argued that there is limited justification for high-powered statistical refinement in the early exploration of a problem area or in instances where the data involved are essentially crude and imprecise.
8. Drawing up the conclusions:
The conclusions of the study must be restricted to the population actually investigated and care must be taken not to over generalize the results. The results also pertain only to the conditions under which they were derived and since control may have distorted the natural situation care must be taken to restrict the conclusions to the conditions actually present in the experiment. The investigator must not forget that his conclusions are based on the concept of probability but especially he must not fail to recognize the limitations underlying his conclusions and/or the special conditions that restrict their applicability.
9. Reporting the result:
The study must be reported in sufficient detail so that the reader can make a judgement as to its adequacy.

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