The study seeks to determine whether there is a relationship between the dependent variable, which is students’ motivation and getting digital badges (intervention) as the independent variable.
To explore this relationship two hypothesis are developed.
· Null hypothesis: Giving digital badges (intervention) did not affect students’ motivation for increased participation in class discussion activities measured through student responses.
· Alternative Hypothesis: Giving digital badges had an effect on students’ motivation for increased participation in classroom discussion activities.
In conducting the study, the pretest-posttest experimental research design is selected for use in testing the hypothesis. This design is considered most suitable for the study for several reasons. First, the design enables the instructors to measure the initial performance of the students in class discussions. Secondly, the instructor makes experimental interventions to the experimental group and finally measure changes to the performance of students after the intervention. Accordingly, the instructor will be able to observe clearly any changes that may result due to administering the intervention.
Experimental research designs
These are scientific research designs aimed at finding or establishing the relationship between two variables. Experimental research design requires the researcher to manipulate one variable and compare it with a control variable or a variable that is measurable without the researcher’s manipulation (Skidmore, 2008).
In addition, there are three research designs for experimental studies. These are:
1. Pretest-Posttest Control-Group Design
This type of experimental design is characterized by the random selection of participants, two groups i.e. the control group and the experimental group. An intervention is given to the experimental group but no interventions for the control group. Finally, there is a measurement at the end of the intervention.
2. Posttest-Only Control Group Design.
This design fits the characteristics of a true experiment as it involves random selection of participants, interventions to the experimental group and post-intervention measurement It, however, does not have a pre-intervention measurement stage.
3. Solomon Four-Group Design
This design also fits the characteristics of random sampling and intervention required for any true experiment. However, unlike the previous designs Solomon Four-Group design categorizes its sample into four groups such that there are two control groups (one for pretest and the other for posttest only) and two experimental groups (one for pretest and the other for posttest only), due to this, the method requires a larger sample to cover all four groups (Skidmore, 2008).
Internal validity measures whether an independent variable, intervention in our case, indeed is responsible for causing a corresponding change in the dependent variable or not. Internal validity can be influenced by factors such as:
Sampling techniques: The process through which participants are chosen to participate in the study also affects the validity of the results. This can be solved through a random assignment which ensures that all the participants had an equal chance of being elected to either group making the two groups randomly similar.
Attrition: Attrition occurs when some of the participants withdraw from the study before completion, which significantly alters the validity of results obtained from an experimental study by changing the composition of the sample or groups. To prevent attrition from the study, the instructor can enlarge the sample and provide incentives for participation in the study.
Maturation and history: involves any changes that may occur to the subjects as a result of time passage. This may directly affect the internal validity of a study. In our case, for instance, other factors outside the instructor’s intervention may affect the students’ motivation to increase their participation in classroom discussions. To solve/eliminate this, the instructors need to ensure that the time taken between the first measurement and the second measurement is not very long (Skidmore, 2008).
Ethics in Research
Experimental research involves many interactions between the researchers and human participants- in our case instructors and students. This calls for the need to ensure some degree of research ethics consideration to ensure that the human participants are protected from any harm due to their participation in the study. In this case, the following ethical issues need to be considered
Voluntary Participation: The instructors need to ensure that participants in the study do so voluntarily. In other words, all participants in the research participate without any form of influence or coercion. Further, the instructors need to assure the students that no one will be victimized for failing to participate in the study
Informed consent: informed consent ensures that participants make the decision to participate in a study from an informed position. This requires that all participants be provided with sufficient information on both the aims, expectations and beneficiaries of the research as well as any risks that may occur to them (Skidmore, 2008).
Anonymity and confidentiality: Anonymity and confidentiality ensure that participants’ responses and their identities are protected before the research findings are made public. To achieve this, the instructors conducting the study need to have mechanisms through which they protect the students’ details and that they do not share information or data between the participants.
Cultural consideration: Human beings exhibit differences in many areas. These differences and diversities are responsible for human and society value syatems and require due consideration when conducting experiments. Experimental research take place with numerous interaction among human subjects. This implies that subjects in a particular study may have different attitudes towards certain topics ar research procedures. It is therefore imperative that people conducting experimental studies consider, the implications of cultural differences when conducting a study. For example, cultural differences may result in different reactions to a similar intervention among different people.
To capture sufficient information through the experiment while avoiding research bias, the instructors ensured that they had an adequate/ large sample by including two sections for each of the instructors as detailed in the experiment scenario. Further, to ensure the equal chance of selection to either group the participants were selected to the groups through random assignment techniques. The selected sample was not only sufficient but was representative In other words; the study eliminated any bias on the treatment effect