The nature of experimental and quasi–experimental research in postgraduate education research in South Africa: 1995–2004
Balfour, Robert John
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It is widely known that there is a dearth of education research in South Africa which takes as its methodological basis experimentation. The emphasis has been on educators' and learners' experiential understanding in the first decade of democracy after apartheid, when qualitative research predominated. The article investigates, first, the extent of experimental and quasi-experimental research designs. Second, we examine, drawing upon a sample of theses which self-report as experimental and quasi-experimental research, the extent to which such methodologies are actually deployed and with what success or efficacy. And, third, we interrogate the associations of experimental and quasi-experimental designs with particular disciplines within education. This article points out the problems with random assignment of participants into experimental and control group in educational settings. Most of the experimental research is concentrated in three institutions in the Gauteng Province, while there are six institutions where this methodology is not used. Also, the experimental designs are prevalent in the psychology of education discipline. This points, ultimately, to the lack of supervision capacity in the experimental designs in South African higher education institutions.
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