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Campbell's law is an adage developed by Donald T. Campbell:
"The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor."
The social science principle of Campbell's law is sometimes used to point out the negative consequences of high-stakes testing in U.S. classrooms.
What Campbell also states in this principle is that "achievement tests may well be valuable indicators of general school achievement under conditions of normal teaching aimed at general competence. But when test scores become the goal of the teaching process, they both lose their value as indicators of educational status and distort the educational process in undesirable ways. (Similar biases of course surround the use of objective tests in courses or as entrance examinations.)"
Campbell's law was published in 1976 by Donald T. Campbell, an experimental social science researcher and the author of many works on research methodology. Closely related ideas are known under different names, e.g. Goodhart's law, and the Lucas critique.
Technically schooled people often use the term "Heisenberg" as a shorthand to represent concepts such as Campbell's law, based on a rough analogy with Heisenberg uncertainty in quantum physics.
- ^ a b Campbell, Donald T., Assessing the Impact of Planned Social Change The Public Affairs Center, Dartmouth College, Hanover New Hampshire, USA. December, 1976.
- Rothstein, Jesse (University of California - Berkeley) "Review of Learning About Teaching" National Education Policy Center, 1/13/11. http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-learning-about-teaching
- "Learning About Teaching" Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 12/10/10. http://www.gatesfoundation.org/college-ready-education/Documents/preliminary-findings-research-paper.pdf
- Berliner, David C. & Nichols, Sharon L. "High-Stakes Testing Is Putting the Nation At Risk" Education Week, 3/12/07. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2007/03/12/27berliner.h26.html
- Nichols, Sharon L. & Berliner, David C. "The Inevitable Corruption of Indicators and Educators Through High-Stakes Testing" The Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice, East Lansing, MI, March 2005. http://epsl.asu.edu/epru/documents/EPSL-0503-101-EPRU.pdf
- Nichols, S. L., & Berlner, D. C. (2007). Collateral Damage: How high-stakes testing corrupts America's schools Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press
- Tony Waters, "Campbell's law, planned social change, Vietnam war deaths, and condom distributions in refuge camps" at Ethnography.com
What Is Campbell's Law? « Diane Ravitch's blog
May 25, 2012 – Campbell's Law explains why high-stakes testing promotes cheating, narrowing the curriculum, teaching to the test, and other negative ..
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