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Resource Methods Toolkit CO:RE at TUNI Published: 12 May 2022

Quasi-experiment

A quasi-experiment is a research design, that is planned to enable generalised causal explanations (Cook & Campbell, 1979) of the phenomenon which are under study. It differs from a typical laboratory experiment, because the variables studied are not directly manipulated by the experimenter (researcher), and the participants of the study are not randomly assigned to study groups. A quasi-experiment means that participants are usually observed in their natural environment before and after an intervention. Most likely, the researcher is probing whether a certain task, program, new app etc., has culminated in a change of a behaviour. A hypothesis is an expected causal relationship between an event and a result.  


The event does not necessarily culminate in the result every occasion (the change of the behaviour of every participant). A causal relation is established when the result occurs for the majority of the participants; in other words, the result occurs within a certain probability. The probability of the result of interest occurring is compared with a neutral controlled event. 

This method is not under the strict control of the experimenter and, therefore, the confounding factors potentially influence the results. This type of design thus acknowledges a child’s development during the course of a study; such as their increase in intelligence, which assists with their ability to articulate their speech more precisely which culminates in greater social skills. The child’s development contributes to the result of the quasi-experiment, to such a large extent, that it is sometimes impossible to say whether the intervention had an effect. This is also called a problem of inner validity. In a hypothetical study, where the effect of a linguistic game platform used in a certain school is of interest, it may appear that it has a positive effect on the linguistic development of the children in that school. In order to reduce this inner validity problem, one could use a comparison group from a different school where this linguistic platform was not used. However, this is not a perfect solution either, because the children are not assigned into those groups randomly, and, therefore, the comparison group might have poorer linguistic skills at the end of the quasi-experiment due to other reasons.

Pros

  • Enables the researcher to study causality to some extent, when the study is carefully planned

  • Allows gathering extensive background information of the participants under study

  • Enables researchers to research a problem or phenomenon in its natural setting. 

Cons

  • Participants are not randomly allocated to study groups.

  • Dependent variables are not under the control of the experimenter.

  • The development of children and unknown biases of a comparison group can be confounding factors





  1. Alt, D., & Raichel, N. (2020). Enhancing perceived digital literacy skills and creative self-concept through gamified learning environments: Insights from a longitudinal study. International Journal of Educational Research, 101. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.IJER.2020.101561

  2. Cook, T. D., & Campbell, D. T. (1979). Quasi-Experimentation: Design and Analysis Issues for Field Settings. Rand McNally. https://www.scholars.northwestern.edu/en/publications/quasi-experimentation-design-and-analysis-issues-for-field-settin

  3. Dumitru, E.-A. (2020). Testing Children and Adolescents’ Ability to Identify Fake News: A Combined Design of Quasi-Experiment and Group Discussions. Societies 2020, Vol. 10, Page 71, 10(3), 71. https://doi.org/10.3390/SOC10030071

  4. Soldatova, G., Chigarkova, S., & Dreneva, A. (2019). Features of media multitasking in school-age children. Behavioral Sciences, 9(12). https://doi.org/10.3390/BS9120130

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Authors

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Team member, CO:RE at TUNI

Iiris Tuvi

Iiris Tuvi, PhD, is a post-doctoral Research Fellow a the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences of Tampere University. She has long experience in experimental psychology and methods involving psychometrics and data analysis. Currently working on methods used to research children in digital environment. Iiris is a member of Work Package 6 team.

Tampere University
Tampere University
CO:RE at TUNI
Methods

The team at the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication of TUNI identifies, develops and provides access to resources on qualitative, quantitative and mixed research methods together with evaluating their validity in research practice.

These resources are collated in the CO:RE methods toolkit that cross-reference resources from the evidence base, the compass for research ethics, and the theory toolkit, to give users tools to apply to their individual research contexts.

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