What are Non-Experimental Projects?
There are three main categories of non-experimental projects: descriptive or correlational, surveys, and demonstrations. In a non-experimental project, students examine a particular question and collect observations but do not experimentally manipulate (or purposely change) the independent variable. Like all scientific studies, a non-experiment should still involve particular question(s) to be evaluated, identification of relevant variables, background research, systematic methods to conduct the project, careful and detailed observations/notes, and valid conclusions.
Descriptive or Correlational Projects
Topic: Effect of second hand smoke in the home and childhood asthma
It is unethical to assign children to be exposed to second hand smoke. Therefore you
Descriptive and Correlational Project Ideas
Possible questions that could be investigated in descriptive or correlational project include examining the relationship among such variables as:
Surveys will end up being descriptive and/or correlational when the results are presented. In any case, the survey itself should be well designed and controlled for important factors, such as method of administration, item response choices, etc. In addition, the student should try and collect additional information on those surveyed (for example, age, gender, etc.) to look to any differences based on these factors. If conducting a survey, students should consider the following:
This category may include the demonstration of:
How a bicycle works
Please note: The project’s level of complexity should fit with the student’s age and grade level. (Simple demonstrations would not be appropriate for upper elementary school and middle school students.)
How to Do a Non-Experimental Project!
1. Select a topic and a question
§ Start by listing topics you are interested in (baking, music, school, sports, art, health, etc.)
§ From that list, create questions that you think would be interesting
o How important is sugar as a ingredient in cookies?
o How does a bicycle work?
o Is it necessary to see food in order to taste it?
§ Choose a question that you think you can answer. Be sure to consider the following:
o Will it be interesting?
o How will I gather my results or observations?
o Can I get the necessary supplies to do the project?
o Will I have enough time to complete it?
o Is it safe?
o What variables are important and will influence my investigation?
o Which things should I consider, and control if possible, to improve my project?
2. Plan how, when, and where you will do your project
Keep in mind:
o What you want to have happen
o What equipment/materials you will need
o How you will perform the project (put in place any controls and identify variables for descriptive/correlational and survey projects only)
o What you will be observing, measuring, or collecting during the project
3. Develop or collect necessary materials
4. Execute the project and observe/measure the results
Prepare data sheets for recording notes, observations, or measurements
Keep track of all results in a log. Include notes and drawings as appropriate
Repeat is possible to verify your results
For demonstration: Record and observe how something works and why
5. Organize your results (observations or measurements)
Include charts, graphs, tables, pictures, drawing and/or diagrams as appropriate
When possible, use numbers to show your results
Identify and label any pictures, drawings, diagrams, etc.
Identify and label all relevant variables (descriptive/correlational and survey projects only)
Identify any controls and put in place (descriptive/correlational and survey projects only)
6. Explain your observations and results
Why do you think you got the results you did?
How do your results/observations compare with what you read about or predicted?
For demonstration: Be ready to explain how and why something works
7. Draw conclusions
What can you say about your project in general?
How do your results or observations relate to your life or our environment?
Is there anything you could have done to improve your project?
What new questions did your project raise?
What should be looked at next time a similar project is performed?
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