Observation - PowerPoint

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What is Observation?
   Observation is a systematic data collection
    approach. Researchers use all of their
    senses to examine people in natural settings or
    naturally occurring situations.
   Observation of a field setting often involves:
     prolonged engagement in a setting or social situation
     clearly expressed, self-conscious notations of how
      observing is done
     methodical and tactical improvisation in order to
      develop a full understanding of the setting of interest
     imparting attention in ways that is in some sense
     recording one's observations
Participant Observation
   Participant observation "combines participation
    in the lives of the people being studied with
    maintenance of a professional distance that
    allows adequate observation and recording of
    data" (Fetterman, 1998)
   Participant observation underscores the
    person's role as participant in the social setting
    he or she observes. The range of roles one may
    play as a participant observer have been
    describe by Gold (1958).
Non-Participant Observation
   Non-participant observation is observation with no or
    limited interaction with the people one observes.
   Some observational data can be
    collected unobtrusively using erosion and accretion
   Researchers who study how people communicate
    often want to examine the details of how people talk
    and behave together. In special cases, a recording
    device may be used..
   Non-participant observation provides limited insight
    into the meaning of the social context being studied
    and is often combined with participant observation.
    Raymond Gold’s Typology (1958)
   The complete participant - takes an insider role, is fully
    part of the setting and often observes covertly.
   The participant as observer - the researcher gains access
    to a setting by virtue of having a natural and non-research
    reason for being part of the setting. As observers, they are
    part of the group being studied. This approach may be
    common in health care settings where members of the
    health care team are interested in observing operations in
    order to understand and improve care processes.
   The observer as participant - In this role, the researcher
    or observer has only minimal involvement in the social
    setting being studied. There is some connection to the
    setting but the observer is not naturally and normally part of
    the social setting.
   The complete observer - the researcher does not take part
    in the social setting at all. An example of complete
    observation might be watching children play from behind a
    two-way mirror.
Fieldnotes, Jotted Notes and Protocols
   Observers often use multiple methods to gather
   One primary approach involves writing fieldnotes.
   Researchers may want to create and use an
    observational protocol (template) to guide
   Theories and concepts can be used in constructing
    protocols and can result in focused data collection
   However, protocols or templates can deflect
    attention from unnamed and unanticipated
    categories that may be important to understanding
    a phenomenon and a setting
Using Protocols
 Creswell (1998) recommends use of a
  “protocol” when collecting data to organize
  information and help keep research on track
 i.e. an interview schedule, a moderator’s
  guide or an observational protocol
Jotted Notes
 Used for unobtrusive observation
 To record main observations, snippets of
  conversation, etc.
 Written by hand on scrap of paper, napkin,
 As soon as possible after observation
  ends, detailed field notes are written, using
  jotted notes and memory as a guide.
   Select a site to be observed
   At the site, identify who or what to observe
   Determine what your role as observer will be
   Design an observational protocol as a method
    for recording notes in the field
   Record aspects such as the physical setting,
    particular events and activities, and your own
   Withdraw from the site and as soon as possible,
    write a detailed description of your experience
Guidelines for Note-taking
 Don’t rely on memory alone
 If complete field notes not feasible, use
  jotted notes and then write field notes
 Take notes in stages
 Record everything possible

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