Designing Quantitative Research Studies

  • Karen Mangold
  • Mark Adler


There are variety of quantitative research designs that are amenable to use in educational scholarship. The design complexity will depend on available resources and the question(s) being investigated. A simulation-based medical education (SBME) quantitative study can range from an observational study to a complex, multiple group effort with or without randomization. Ensuring adequate number of participants are enrolled to have sufficient power to detect important differences is key; most educational research is underpowered. Certain designs (e.g., mastery learning) have grown in use.


Experimental and quasi-experimental design Study design Randomization Translational research 


  1. 1.
    Hulley SB, Cummings SR, Browner WS, Grady DG, Newman TB. Designing clinical research. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Cook TD, Campbell DT, Shadish W. Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for generalized causal inference. Boston: Houghton Mifflin; 2002.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Adler MD, Trainor JL, Siddall VJ, McGaghie WC. Development and evaluation of high-fidelity simulation case scenarios for pediatric resident education. Ambul Pediatr. 2007;7(2):182–6. Scholar
  4. 4.
    Friedman CP. The research we should be doing. Acad Med. 1994;69(6):455–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Cook DA, Beckman TJ. Reflections on experimental research in medical education. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2010;15(3):455–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bland JM, Altman DG. Some examples of regression towards the mean. BMJ. 1994;309(6957):780.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Cook DA, Hatala R. Got power? A systematic review of sample size adequacy in health professions education research. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2015;20(1):73–83. Scholar
  8. 8.
    Salkind NJ, Rasmussen K. Encyclopedia of measurement and statistics. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications; 2007. 1136.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    McGaghie WC. When I say … mastery learning. Med Educ. 2015;49(6):558–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Yudkowsky R, Park YS, Lineberry M, Knox A, Ritter EM. Setting mastery learning standards. Acad Med. 2015;90(11):1495–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    McGaghie WC. Medical education research as translational science. Sci Transl Med. 2010;2(19). 19cm8.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Mangold
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mark Adler
    • 1
  1. 1.Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics (Emergency Medicine) and Medical EducationNorthwestern UniversityChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of ChicagoChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations