Experimental Research: Definition, Characteristics, Subjects, Procedures, Strengths and Weaknesses

Experimental Research – When discussing experimental research for the first time, did Sinaumed’s ever think about the activities carried out by researchers who had gray hair and were in the laboratory with beakers? Yep, if you look at animated films, experimental research will definitely be described that way. When in fact, experimental research does not have to be in the laboratory with beakers and create sophisticated discoveries, you know…

In this day and age, various research methods have been developed and can be carried out in all fields of science. Not only in science and technology, but also in the fields of literature, education, linguistics, law, sociology, and history. Even students who are completing their undergraduate and postgraduate assignments often use this research method.

Then actually, what is experimental research? If it doesn’t have to be done in the laboratory with beakers, can it be done using literature based on books or journal articles?

So, so that Sinaumed’s isn’t confused about what experimental research is, let’s look at the following review!

Definition of Experimental Research

If you look at KBBI (Big Indonesian Dictionary), an experiment means an experiment that is systematic and plans to prove the truth of a theory or so on. It should be noted that the term ” experimental ” is the equivalent of a foreign language (English), namely ” experiment “, which also in Latin is ” experimental ” which means to try out.

According to Sugiyono (2012), revealed that experimental research is a research method used to look for the effect of certain treatments on others under controlled conditions. Then, according to Arikunto (2006), defines that this experimental research is a way to look for a causal relationship (causal) between two factors that are deliberately raised by researchers by eliminating or setting aside other disturbing factors.

Then there is also Solso & MacLin (2002) who also argue that this experimental research is a study in which at least one manipulation variable will be found to study cause-and-effect relationships. Therefore, experimental research will definitely be closely related to the activity of testing a hypothesis. This is done to look for influences, relationships, or differences in changes to the group or variable being studied.

So, based on the opinions of these experts, we can conclude that this experimental research is a research method that is carried out by first manipulating data through certain treatments so that in the next step data can be observed in the future. 

An example of the application of experimental research in the field of education is to examine student understanding in a subject using certain learning media.

Knowing Variables in Experimental Research

In conducting any research, this experimental research is no exception, Sinaumed’s must have often come across the term variable. Actually, what is that variable?

Variables are anything related to conditions, circumstances, factors, treatments, or actions that are expected to affect research results. It can be said that the variable is something that we want to examine. When viewed in experimental research, there are two variables, namely experimental variables ( treatment variables ) and non-experimental variables.

Experimental variables ( treatment variables ) are variables that are directly related and applied to determine a certain situation; which is expected to get the impact or result of the experiment. This experimental variable becomes a condition that the researcher wants to examine regarding how it affects a symptom. Then, non-experimental variables are variables that are not intentionally carried out but can still have an impact on the results. So, to find out the effect on these variables, these two groups must be subject to different controls.

Characteristics of Experimental Research

As with other research methods, experimental research also has special characteristics, one of which is manipulation. This is because basically, this research method requires data manipulation beforehand but in a planned manner. Well, here are some of its characteristics according to Sukardi (2009), namely:

1. Manipulate Variables

The first characteristic that is not owned by other research methods is the act of manipulating variables. In this action, it is not done haphazardly, but must still be planned by the researcher. Maybe Sinaumed’s thinks that manipulation is an effort that has a negative sense of value, but in the context of this study that is not necessarily so 

The act of manipulation in question is the action or treatment carried out by the researcher on the basis of scientific considerations that can be accounted for openly, in order to obtain different effects on the variable concerned. For example, in an experimental research process carried out in the laboratory, there are two groups, namely the treatment group and the control group, which are given a temperature level in the room in the form of cold, medium and hot. Now, during the manipulation process, there will be differences in room conditions that have been planned beforehand so that researchers can obtain results that may be different for the two groups. From the differences that arise, it can be calculated as a result of the manipulation of variables for the two groups.

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2. Controlling Variables

Controlling is an act of shifting the influence of other variables on the dependent variable which might affect the appearance of that variable. The activity of controlling a variable or subject in this study certainly has an important role. This is because without systematic control measures, the researcher cannot carry out an evaluation by making careful measurements, especially on the dependent variable.

The purpose of this action is to regulate the situation that occurs in experimental research, so that the effects of these variables can be studied.

3. Make Observations

When the experimental research process was in progress, the researchers would observe two groups. The aim is to be able to see and record what phenomena arise and to allow for differences between the two groups due to the control and manipulation of variables that have been carried out previously.

In the process of this experimental research, there will usually be two groups of variables, namely the independent variables and the dependent variables. Well, researchers are advised to make further observations of the dependent variable, because these variables will later receive the consequences of systematic changes in the independent variables.

Experiment Research Objectives

In general, the purpose of conducting experimental research is to examine the effect of a particular treatment on the symptoms of a particular group and compared with other groups that receive different treatment. So, here is a description of the purpose of conducting experimental research:

  • To build a relationship that has a causal-effect relationship
  • To study the effect of changing factors on a controlled situation.
  • To find the effect of certain treatments on others under controlled conditions.
  • To find out the consequences of giving a behavior intentionally by researchers.
  • To test the hypothesis proposed in the study.

Requirements for Conducting Experimental Research

All of these research methods can work well and provide accurate results if researchers carry them out in accordance with the rules or guidelines. This experimental research is no exception, which also has certain requirements and must be fulfilled by the researcher so that the research process can run well, namely:

  • The researcher must be able to determine deliberately about the time and location where he will conduct the research.
  • Research on the same thing must be repeated under the same conditions.
  • Researchers must be able to manipulate the variables (change and control) studied according to what they want.
  • A comparison group ( control group ) is needed in addition to the group that will be given a certain treatment ( experimental group ).

Common Mistakes that Often Occur in Experimental Research

  • Unable to control other variables outside the research variables.
  • The cases studied are too few.
  • Not able to divide the group into sub-groups.
  • The variables used as the basis for grouping are too many.
  • The variables used as the basis for grouping do not have a strong correlation or relationship with the dependent variable.
  • Give several treatments.

Experimental Research Subjects

In this experimental research, the research subject is an aspect that refers to the respondent or informant who wants to be asked for information as the data. Determining the right subject will actually be the main key because it has a big influence when it comes to drawing conclusions. In the process in the field, especially when you want to determine who or which group to give treatment , you will usually use a sampling technique that is adapted to the conditions of the subject as well as being representative of the population you want to generalize.

To conduct this research, a relatively homogeneous population is needed, aka population homogeneity. If this homogeneity effort can be achieved optimally, then later the process of conducting experimental research will run smoothly, especially in increasing research validity. Well, subject homogeneity in this experimental research can be achieved by limiting population characteristics, including:

  • Aspects of place or geography, where the subject lives. It can be a province, district, village, or school.
  • Aspects of the subject itself, ranging from gender, education, age, and others.
  • Social aspect, which includes social class and social environment.

Since this experimental research is usually carried out on samples, that is, part of the total population, the research subjects must also be representative. The representativeness of this sample is influenced by several factors, namely the number of samples, the size of the sample members, and the sampling technique.

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Experimental Research Procedures

The procedure or steps for conducting this experimental research are basically the same as those of other research methods. According to Emzir (2010), the procedures in this study include:

  1. Select and formulate a problem.
  2. Choose a subject and measurement instrument.
  3. Choosing a research design.
  4. Carry out the procedure.
  5. Analyze data.
  6. Formulate conclusions.

In experimental research, it must be guided by at least one hypothesis which states that there is an expected causal relationship between the two groups.

Then, according to Darmadi (2013) who both stated that the procedure for carrying out this research was not much different from other research procedures, explicitly namely:

  1. Conduct an inductive study that is closely related to the problem to be solved.
  2. Identify existing problems.
  3. Using literature studies from several relevant sources (usually books and journal articles), formulating research hypotheses, determining operational definitions and variables.
  4. Make plans related to the implementation of research, which includes activities:
  • Identify external variables that are not needed, but allow contamination during implementation.
  • Determine how to control the prepared groups.
  • Choose the right research design.
  • Determine the population and sample that will represent a number of research subjects.
  • Divide the subjects into the control group and the experimental group.
  • Compile appropriate instruments, validate instruments, and conduct pilot studies in order to obtain instruments that meet the requirements for data collection.
  • Identify data collection procedures and define hypotheses.

5. Conduct experiments.

6. Collect raw data from the experimental process.

7. Organize and describe the data according to the variables that have been determined.

9. Analyze data with relevant statistical techniques.

10. Prepare experimental research reports based on existing guidelines.

Experimental Research Validity

Please note, Sinaumed’s, that the implementation of this experimental research can be said to be valid if the results are caused by the manipulated independent variables and if the results of the research can be generalized to situations outside the experimental setting. Basically, validity is the degree of accuracy of the research measuring instrument to the actual content being measured. In this case, there are two conditions that must be accepted and referred to as internal and external validity.

  • Internal Validity

According to Hadjar (1996), this internal validity is an assessment made regarding the belief that alternative hypotheses can be removed from the possibility as an explanation of the research results. Therefore, researchers need to identify what variables might appear in the alternative hypothesis for experimental variables.

There are 8 types of foreign variables that can threaten this validity and need to be considered when carrying out experimental research, namely: history, maturity, instrumentation, testing, regression, statistics, different selection, and morality.

  • External Validity

In this validity there are 2 kinds, namely population validity related to the sample subject population, and ecological validity related to experimental conditions to other environmental conditions.

Determination of Research Titles and Variables

In the process of determining the title of experimental research and its variables, you must also pay attention ! For example, Sinaumed’s wants to conduct this experimental research to examine in the field of education, namely the influence of parental background on the level of student discipline at school. Well, Sinaumed’s can use the title “The Influence of Parental Background and Parenting Patterns on Student Discipline in Schools”.

This research will later investigate background factors and parenting patterns from parents that turn out to influence student discipline. So that there are three factors, namely background, parenting, and student discipline that relate to one another. In this study later, the application of the variables is as follows:

  • Parents’ background and upbringing = independent variables
  • Student discipline = dependent variable.

In practice, you can use analytical techniques in the form of regression analysis and calculate the effective contribution of the three variables along with the relative contribution of each variable.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Experimental Research

No. Excess  Lack
1. Minimizing the risk of unrelated variables and the existence of confounding in the research results. Experimental research design is difficult to represent a particular population.
2. Being the only research design that makes a causal relationship (causal) from its variables. Difficulties in selecting ‘controlling’ variables to exclude all confounding variables.
3. Able to control threats related to time to validity, especially when doing pre and post testing. Not being able to isolate one variable because when the hypothesis cannot be controlled, a large number of variables are not related to each other.
4. Allows for flexible, efficient, and statistical manipulation efforts. It is often not possible to create the ‘natural place’ desired by the researcher as a research field.

So, that’s a review of what experimental research is and its advantages and disadvantages. If Sinaumed’s is studying in his final semester and wants to write a thesis using this research method, the thing that must be considered carefully is the validity of the data.