Randomized trials: Usage in educational research

Hak Ping Tam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Randomized trials have been around for many years as a research design. However, many factors have contributed to an emphasis on their use recently in the field of educational research and this has stirred much discussion from different aspects. The purpose of this paper is to offer an extended introduction to randomized trial design for educational researchers. It begins with an introduction to the social background that contributed to the current stress on the design. Next, the components that constitute a randomized trial will be explained with particular attention to the relationship between random assignment and causation. Two formats of randomized trials, namely, randomized controlled trials and cluster randomized trials will then be described. Afterwards, examples are given to illustrate the intricacies and the kinds of considerations needed for real world applications. Next, some concerns about randomized trials are briefly summarized followed by a presentation of counterarguments against them. The text closes with a discussion of relevant issues pertaining to randomized trial and observational studies. With awareness of the features of and the issues in such designs, interested researchers will be more comprehensive in planning a randomized trial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-95
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Research in Education Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Dec
Externally publishedYes


  • Causation
  • Cluster randomized trials
  • Random assignment
  • Randomized controlled trials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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