Tag Archives: research methods

Brain training program fined $2 million

A number of studies have failed to support the claims of brain training programmes (see here for example) and now the American Federal Trade Commission has fined one brain training company, Luminosity, $2 million for false claims about the benefits of their games for maximising your abilities and staving off the effects of dementia and memory […]

Paying homage to formal terms

This is one of my pet peeves – and something I have written about in various books. People get focus on ‘technical terms’ and fail to grasp the real meaning. Here is an example I just received in an email from a teacher: I am wrestling with task validity. It’s regarding a question evaluating the […]

Parametric and nonparametric tests

The new AQA specification includes parametric tests, therefore students no longer can justify a choice of test by saying it is ‘better than ordinal’ (which was possible when there were only nonparametric tests. A look at past AQA B mark schemes gives a clue about how this should be done: AQA B paper (June 2015 […]

Stop maths anxiety

The new specifications (beginning September 2015) emphasise the importance of Maths skills in all science subjects. In fact the content is only slightly different from what is currently there but it appears to be creating anxiety. A piece on the BBC website discusses maths anxiety, a well-studied phenomenon. One thought is that increased levels of emotion […]

Useful sound bite

A popular way to criticise any research study is to suggest that the sample was limited – but, in order to make this an effective criticism, you need to explain why this is an issue. For example, if the sample was all men then you need to explain why that would make a difference to performance or […]

Ecological validity

A term beloved by students and all too often wrongly used. Consider this: Lab experiment – independent variable manipulated, DV measured in lab by experimenter. Field experiment – independent variable manipulated, DV measured in natural environment, participant may behave more ‘naturally’ because unaware of being assessed. Natural experiment – independent variable not manipulated by experiment, DV often measured […]

My research methods gift

This is for AQA A AS students – though A2 students might use them too. All the past research methods questions from the AS exams so you can practise doing them. In the AS exam research methods accounts for 25% of your final mark (Unit 1 24 out of 72 marks, Unit 2 12 out […]

The most popular extraneous variable

So often students suggest that noise could be an important extraneous variable. But is it? This is one of my favourite ‘old time’ studies (reported in my Research Methods book): H.B. Hovey set out to demonstrate the willingness of participants to help an experimenter. He gave college students and intelligence test and told them that […]

The testicular effect

Nothing like a catchy title! Some of you will be familiar with the idea that males who have to compete with other males for mates need to produce more sperm and hence larger testicles through the process of natural selection. Animals who are relatively promiscuous have compete with mates so we would expect them to […]