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Field Experiments

  • By: Donald P. Green & Rachel Milstein Sondheimer
  • In: Encyclopedia of Educational Psychology
  • Edited by: Neil J. Salkind
  • Subject:School/Educational Psychology (general), Educational Psychology, School Psychology

Field experiments are randomized interventions that take place in naturalistic settings, as opposed to research laboratories. Education experiments may take many forms. Examples include preschool readiness programs, curriculum supplements, reductions in classroom size, and alterations in the cooperative format of the classroom, as well as larger institutional interventions, such as voucher systems that allow parents to choose among schools. In each case, field experimentation involves the random assignment of students, classrooms, or schools to treatment and control conditions.

The primary purpose of experimentation is to isolate causal relationships. Random assignment ensures that exposure to the intervention bears no systematic relationship to background factors, such as students' home environment or peer influences. Field settings enable the researcher to draw causal inferences under naturalistic conditions, which enhances the ...

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