Ernest W. Brewer & Jennifer Kuhn
A causal-comparative design is a research design that seeks to find relationships between independent and dependent variables after an action or event has already occurred. The researcher's goal is to determine whether the independent variable affected the outcome, or dependent variable, by comparing two or more groups of individuals. There are similarities and differences between causal-comparative research, also referred to as ex post facto research , and both correlational and experimental research. This entry discusses these differences, as well as the benefits, process, limitations, and criticism of this type of research design. To demonstrate how to use causal-comparative research, examples in education are presented. Many similarities exist between causal-comparative research and correlational research. Both methods are useful when experimental research has been deemed impossible or unethical as the research design for a particular question. Both causal-comparative and correlational research designs attempt to determine relationships among variables, but neither allows for ...