One Shot Case Study Internal Validity Example

threats to internal validity: selection, history, maturation, mortality 3. Posttest Only Design with non-equivalent groups - assess two groups of subjects (NOT comparable) after the intervention (Royse says control group… be careful) X O 1-------------- ( I added the line to indicate non-equivalency ) O 2 (+): improvement over the other two pre-experimental designs, as it has a comparison group (-): cannot assume equivalency, so effect may be due to extraneous variables associated with group non-equivalency BUT! These pre-experimental designs are examples of what to AVOID because there are better designs even if randomization is not possible D. Basic Quasi-Experimental Designs These are not ideal, but in real life randomization and control groups are not often possible to have… so… 1. Non-Equivalent Control Group Design (comment on comparison vs control group) O 1 X O 2 O 3 O 4 As randomization is not possible, matching is often implemented by key variables (age, sex, SES, drug hx, condition, etc) - the process which creates a control (comparison) group and experimental group with the same overall average description (age, proportion of sex, ethnicity, SES, etc). GOOD alternative when randomization not possible. (+): accounts for many threats to internal validity, but no randomization (-): no random assignment (true for all non-experimental designs), some threats to internal validity: selection bias (especially if no matching), history Page 6

Pre-Experimental Designs

Pre-experiments are the simplest form of research design. In a pre-experiment either a single group or multiple groups are observed subsequent to some agent or treatment presumed to cause change.

Types of Pre-Experimental Design

  • One-shot case study design
  • One-group pretest-posttest design
  • Static-group comparison

One-shot case study design

A single group is studied at a single point in time after some treatment that is presumed to have caused change. The carefully studied single instance is compared to general expectations of what the case would have looked like had the treatment not occurred and to other events casually observed. No control or comparison group is employed.

One-group pretest-posttest design

A single case is observed at two time points, one before the treatment and one after the treatment. Changes in the outcome of interest are presumed to be the result of the intervention or treatment. No control or comparison group is employed.

Static-group comparison

A group that has experienced some treatment is compared with one that has not. Observed differences between the two groups are assumed to be a result of the treatment.

Validity of Results

An important drawback of pre-experimental designs is that they are subject to numerous threats to their validity. Consequently, it is often difficult or impossible to dismiss rival hypotheses or explanations. Therefore, researchers must exercise extreme caution in interpreting and generalizing the results from pre-experimental studies.

One reason that it is often difficult to assess the validity of studies that employ a pre-experimental design is that they often do not include any control or comparison group. Without something to compare it to, it is difficult to assess the significance of an observed change in the case. The change could be the result of historical changes unrelated to the treatment, the maturation of the subject, or an artifact of the testing.

Even when pre-experimental designs identify a comparison group, it is still difficult to dismiss rival hypotheses for the observed change. This is because there is no formal way to determine whether the two groups would have been the same if it had not been for the treatment. If the treatment group and the comparison group differ after the treatment, this might be a reflection of differences in the initial recruitment to the groups or differential mortality in the experiment.

Advantages and Disadvantages


As exploratory approaches, pre-experiments can be a cost-effective way to discern whether a potential explanation is worthy of further investigation.


Pre-experiments offer few advantages since it is often difficult or impossible to rule out alternative explanations. The nearly insurmountable threats to their validity are clearly the most important disadvantage of pre-experimental research designs.


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