Whether it is answering a statistical question or developing the methods for a chemistry experiment, a test hypothesis is fundamental in science. Learn what a test hypothesis is and why it is such an important concept to understand.
Put it to the Test
Science, in general, has millions of methods and procedures available to aid in solving problems, ranging from the basic to the complex. Okay, so ‘millions’ may be an exaggeration, but there are numerous methods available when you seek to answer a scientific question.A test hypothesis is of no exception, when it comes to methods. As a matter of fact, the development of a test hypothesis belongs to a larger framework called the scientific method. Now, what is the scientific method and how does this apply to a test hypothesis?
The Scientific Method
The Scientific Method is a systematic approach taken when scientific questions need to be answered.
Think of this method as your recipe booklet for all of your favorite meals. In a given recipe you have the ingredients list, steps to make the meal, and even hints/tips to ensure your meal receives rave reviews. The Scientific Method follows the same principle.There are four parts:(1) Ask your scientific question — what is it that you would like to learn more about?(2) Conduct background research — learn more about what you are interested in solving(3) Formulate a test hypothesis – what do you seek to prove or disprove given your question?(4) Collect data and run experiments.A very broad method, this gives scientists a great outline to work from when they’re on the quest for a scientific discovery. We will focus on number 3 — formulation of a test hypothesis.
Test Hypothesis: Explained
A test hypothesis is a statement that proposes an explanation using limited scientific evidence.
When you see the word hypothesis, think of the term educational guess. With a hypothesis you are ‘guessing’ what may or may not happen after your scientific question is answered. You may think that guessing is a little risky, but what is science without a little risk-taking? The beauty of writing a hypothesis is that you are stating not only what you hope to be the end outcome, but also the alternative. This leads us to the next point, that there are two parts to writing a test hypothesis.
When writing your hypothesis, there are two terms to keep in mind. The first term is called a null hypothesis. A null hypothesis (Ho) is the statement that proposes there is no difference between what you observe and the standard (i.
e. control) it is compared to. This part of the hypothesis is what you seek to disprove.
The second term is called an alternative hypothesis. The alternative hypothesis (Ha) is a statement proposing there is difference between what you observe and the standard (i.e.) it is compared to.
Now this is the hypothesis we like; it is what we seek to prove to be true.Keep in mind that the word control, or standard refers to a variable that is constant. Think of control as something that doesn’t change or is a reference source. If our observations fluctuate in number count, don’t behave the way we expect them to, etc., we can still arrive at a sound justification to our findings simply because our friend control is present. Now that we understand what a test hypothesis is, let’s practice writing one given a scenario.
That Was Easy! Test Hypothesis Practice
Remember that when writing a test hypothesis you have two parts, the null and alternative.
We will write both of these statements for the example shown.Example: You are gardening on a beautiful spring morning and notice one tomato bush is bearing several tomatoes but a second tomato bush is only bearing five tomatoes. You decide to put on your science thinking cap and plan an experiment. You would like to test what would happen if you changed your watering habits for both bushes.
Your control is a nearby landscaper’s bush that grows with no problem. What do you suppose your test hypothesis would be?Null hypothesis (Ho): There will be no difference in tomato growth between both sets of bushes when compared to the landscapers bush.Alternative hypothesis (Ha): The tomato bush bearing five tomatoes will grow faster than the first bush, mirroring the growth of the landscaper’s perfect bush.Takeaway point: you can see that on one hand there is no difference observed between the bushes (null) versus the distinct difference in outcome with growth (Ha). Remember the alternative hypothesis is what we truly hope the outcome will be.
But we must include the null hypothesis to show this outcome may not always be the case.
A test hypothesis is a statement that proposes an explanation when limited scientific evidence is available. This belongs to a larger framework in science called the Scientific Method. Hypothesis testing is very useful when seeking to prove or disprove a scientific question under investigation.
Hypothesis testing is composed of two parts: null and alternative hypothesis. A null hypothesis (Ho) is a statement that proposes there is no difference between what is observed and the control. The alternative hypothesis (Ha) is the opposite of a null hypothesis.