Using experiments to investigate education: a summary

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  • Using experiments to investigate education
    • Laboratory experiments and teacher expectations
      • Ethical problems
        • Not involving real pupils reduces the number of ethical problems, such as in Harvey and Slatin's experiment
        • Involving them, such as Charkin et al did, means there are greater problems of deception, lack of informed consent and psychological damage
      • Narrow focus
        • Usually only measure one aspect of teachers' expectations, which can be useful because it allows the researcher to isolate this and examine it more throoughly
          • However it means teachers' expectations are not seen within the wider process of labelling
      • Practical problems
        • Schools are large, complex institutions in which many variables affect teachers' expectations
          • Sociologists are often interested in the role of large-scale social factors, which cannot be studied in small-scale laboratory settings
      • Artificiality
        • The artificiality of laboratory experiments may mean that they tell us little about the real world of education
          • Charkin used university students instead of real teachers
          • Harvey and Slatin used photographs of pupils instead of real pupils
    • Field experiments and teacher expectations
      • Ethical problems
        • The potential impact of Rosenthal and Jacobson's study experiment at Oak School on pupils is substantial
          • Children have more rights today than they did then
      • Reliability
      • Validity
        • Rosenthal and Jacobson claimed that teachers' expectation were passed on through the different ways they interacted with pupils but had no evidence to support this claim because they did not carry out observation
          • Later studies that did, such as Claiborn's, found no evidence to support these claims
      • Broader focus
        • Rosenthal did look at the whole labelling process, rather than just examining single aspects in isolation


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