Recognizing and Conducting Opportunistic Experiments in Education: A Guide for Policymakers and Researchers

Publisher: Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Analytic Technical Assistance and Development
Apr 30, 2014
Authors
Alexandra Resch, Jillian Berk, and Lauren Akers
  • Defines opportunistic experiments and provides examples
  • Discusses issues to consider when identifying potential opportunistic experiments
  • Outlines the critical steps to complete opportunistic experiments 

Opportunistic experiments are type of randomized controlled trial that study the effects of a planned intervention or policy change with minimal added disruption and cost. This guide defines opportunistic experiments and provides examples, discusses issues to consider when identifying potential opportunistic experiments, and outlines the critical steps to complete opportunistic experiments. It concludes with a discussion of the potentially low cost of conducting opportunistic experiments and the potentially high cost of not conducting them. Readers will also find a checklist of key questions to consider when conducting opportunistic experiments.