For the musical difference between experiment and survey pdf, see Experimental music. Even very young children perform rudimentary experiments to learn about the world and how things work.
An experiment is a procedure carried out to support, refute, or validate a hypothesis. Experiments provide insight into cause-and-effect by demonstrating what outcome occurs when a particular factor is manipulated.
Experiments vary greatly in goal and scale, but always rely on repeatable procedure and logical analysis of the results. There also exists natural experimental studies. A child may carry out basic experiments to understand gravity, while teams of scientists may take years of systematic investigation to advance their understanding of a phenomenon. Experiments and other types of hands-on activities are very important to student learning in the science classroom.
Experiments can raise test scores and help a student become more engaged and interested in the material they are learning, especially when used over time. Uses of experiments vary considerably between the natural and human sciences. Experiments typically include controls, which are designed to minimize the effects of variables other than the single independent variable.
This increases the reliability of the results, often through a comparison between control measurements and the other measurements. Scientific controls are a part of the scientific method. In such an experiment, if all controls work as expected, it is possible to conclude that the experiment works as intended, and that results are due to the effect of the tested variable. In the scientific method, an experiment is an empirical procedure that arbitrates competing models or hypotheses.
Researchers also use experimentation to test existing theories or new hypotheses to support or disprove them. An experiment usually tests a hypothesis, which is an expectation about how a particular process or phenomenon works. However, an experiment may also aim to answer a “what-if” question, without a specific expectation about what the experiment reveals, or to confirm prior results.
If an experiment is carefully conducted, the results usually either support or disprove the hypothesis. According to some philosophies of science, an experiment can never “prove” a hypothesis, it can only add support. On the other hand, an experiment that provides a counterexample can disprove a theory or hypothesis.
An experiment must also control the possible confounding factors—any factors that would mar the accuracy or repeatability of the experiment or the ability to interpret the results. In engineering and the physical sciences, experiments are a primary component of the scientific method. Typically, experiments in these fields focus on replication of identical procedures in hopes of producing identical results in each replication.
In medicine and the social sciences, the prevalence of experimental research varies widely across disciplines. A single study typically does not involve replications of the experiment, but separate studies may be aggregated through systematic review and meta-analysis. There are various differences in experimental practice in each of the branches of science.