Child Development 138 (03) - Hembree
Social and Emotional Development
California State University, Sacramento
Spring, 2011


Methods Review

I. General Research Strategies

Experimental vs. Correlational designs


A.  Experimental Strategies
   "Does X cause Y?"



1) Experimental control

  • Causal argument

  2) Variables

  • Independent


  • Dependent 



  3) Types of experiments

  • Lab vs. field experiments 




B. Correlational Designs

Are two variables related?

1) Correlation coefficient




2) Problems with Correlation: 

  • Can't establish causality (correlation does not equal causation)


  • Direction of causation


  • Third variable influence



  C. Qualitative Research







II. Typically Used Methods

A. Observation
1. Natural vs. laboratory setting/ Structured vs. unstructured



2. Systematic observation:

  • specimen record


  • time-sampling


  • event-sampling


  • ratings



2. Report Measures

1. Interviews



2. Questionnaires



C.  Measurement issues

1. Reliability & Validity



2. problem of bias



D. External/ecological validity




III. Developmental Designs

A. Longitudinal Designs = AGE CHANGE 




  • advantages and disadvantages




 B. Cross-Sectional Designs = AGE DIFFERENCES



  • advantages and disadvantages




C. Sequential Designs






IV. Ethical Guidelines

  • Protection from harm


  • Informed consent


  • Privacy


  • Knowledge of results


  • Beneficial treatments






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Send problems, comments or suggestions to:

California State University, Sacramento
College of Education
Department of Child Development

Updated: January, 2011

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