Two Types of Observational Research
• (1) Direct Observation
• In order to avoid a situation where subjects alter their behaviour because they know they are being observed, the research has 2 options:
• (1a) To conduct research covertly
• (1b) Overtly - try to blend in by taking few notes
• For structured observation, use an “observation schedule”, which is a checklist for recording behavior. All you do during the observation research is note frequencies of behaviour. After the session, you would examine the data to see if the results fit your hypotheses.
• Indicators need to be clear, so behaviour is accurately categorized.
Observational research is observing a fanominonal or human behavior, observing whatever the research idea is.
This is what our lab will be about, we go out and watch stuff, on Thursday!
• (2) Participant Observation.
• The researcher becomes part of the community that they are observing.
• Can be either covert or overt.
• Advantage of participant over direct observation is that it allows for greater understanding of context.
• There are some subgroups that can only be accessed through covert participant observation -drug smuggling -other examples??
• Context driven & less structured than direct observation, making it useful for descriptive & exploratory research.
• Field notes are detailed descriptions of events & their subjective meaning. They are examined for emerging groups, categories or patterns.
• More interactive, have the option to talk or not to talk. Eg going around parliament and being involved in a protest along with others.
- Participation observation and direct observation can be conducted overtly and covertly.
What Form Do Participant Observation Data Take?
• Participant observation data consist of the detailed field notes that the researcher records in a field notebook.
• Although typically textual, such data may also include maps and other diagrams, such as kinship or organizational charts.
• Occasionally, participant observation may involve quantification of something and, as a result, produce numerical data. For example, the researcher could count the number of people who enter a particular space and engage in a particular activity during a specified segment of time.
• Textual notes are entered into computer files, and data of all forms are analyzed and consulted on a regular basis throughout the study.
- Observational schedule is literally a table, it has columns on the top, a variable that you want to study. Typical j-walking..you want variables specific to that. Are you in a big rush…is a variable.
- You always want to know your gender break down, ….age break down…
What To Observe?
• Appearance :
• Is also used for social issues research if you are trying identify members of gangs. If you are looking for some youth intervention, you might look for gang ques.
• Verbal behavior and interactions:
• Observation is not only looking (appearance) but also listen also.
• Physical behavior and gestures
• Personal space
• Human traffic
• People who stand out
Putting More Details to Notes
• Anything that might indicate membership in groups or in sub-populations of interest to the study, such as profession, social status, socioeconomic class, religion, or ethnicity
• Gender, age, ethnicity, and profession of speakers; dynamics of interaction
• How people use their bodies and voices to communicate different emotions; what individuals' behaviors indicate about their feelings toward one another, their social rank, or their profession
• What individuals’ preferences concerning personal space suggest about their relationships
• Where people enter and exit; how long they stay; who they are (ethnicity, age, gender);
• Whether they are alone or accompanied; number of people
• The characteristics of these individuals; what differentiates