Campbell - Background on Experiments (Methods)

Campbell - Background on Experiments (Methods) - Campbell...

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Campbell: Reforms as Experiments Article Intent/Summary: Basically Campbell is trying to show how quasi experimental designs can be used to evaluate administrative policy. He argues that politicians fear such an approach because if a policy, for which they are responsible, proves to be unsuccessful, that will mean the loss of the politician’s job. Campbell suggests looking at the problem, as a focus, and not policy. If policy A fails, then move to policy B as a means of addressing the social ill. In this way, failure of A would not jeopardize a politician’s job, for his job would be to keep after the problem until something was found that worked. Further, research designed to evaluate administrators should be halted, in favor of, researched designed to find alternative policies. If administrators feel their every failure will be recorded and highlighted, they are less likely to take an experimental approach to solving social problems. By doing this, administrators need not fear experimental approaches. Campbell illustrates how these designs can be used, and the flaws inherent in them (internal and external validity), using the Connecticut crackdown on speeding. He then offers a better approach for these designs using the British Breathalyzer Crackdown. As far as I understand it, with the Connecticut example, the “treatment” or crackdown was put in effect across the board. With the British example, a publicity blitz preceded implementation of the “treatment.” In the British case, effects can be more readily traced because people knew the treatment was coming; therefore, you could more accurately measure how people responded to it. With the Connecticut example, people only learned of the crackdown after it was in place. Here the effect is harder to measure because people could be responding to the treatment or some other factor. Bear with me as I try to explain. Field Experiments and Quasi-Experimental Designs Campbell provides the list of threats to internal validity found in the de Vaus reading. This list is used to evaluate specific quasi experimental designs. This is an evaluation and not a rejection. The only threats to validity that we will allow to invalidate an experiment
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  • Fall '08
  • Glasgow,G
  • external validity, internal validity, Ecological validity

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