Flashcards in Observation Deck (20)
What is observation in the context of research and what kind of research method is it?
In the context of research means watching or observing some action, activity or phenomenon and recording the observation in some manner - a field research method
What is the most important distinction regarding observation?
Observation vs inference
Categorically what are the different kinds of observation?
- Non-participant vs participant vs covert
- Structure vs Unstructured
* Human vs Mechanical
* Direct vs Unobtrusive
What is mechanical observation?
- Mechanical - Undertaken through the use of some kind of technology
- Click through rates
- Scanner based
What is unobtrusive observation?
Unobtrusive - observation happens off site
What is the purpose of observation?
- To directly observe people either in their natural work environment or in a lab setting, and to record activities and behaviour
- Record what people do, not what they say they do
- Produce qualitative and quantitative data
What are the benefits of observation?
- Communication with respondent is not necessary
- Data generally more reliable and free form respondent bias
- No need to rely on respondents memory or recall
- Data on non-verbal behaviour may be obtained
- Environmental conditions may be reported and results can be contextualised
- It is easier to observe certain groups of individuals from whom it may be otherwise difficult to obtain information from (children etc.)
What can be observed?
* Behaviour and actions
- Interactions and interpersonal relationships
- Processes, activities, habits, roles at work
- Patterns of behaviour, labour processes, work-flow patterns
- Physiological reactions through mechanical observation
What is an observation schedule and what does it accomplish?
- Contains a list of items that operate something like a checklist
- What is being observed is being dictated by the items contained in the schedule
- Promotes inter-observer reliability
What is an unstructured observation?
- Observes action or the phenomenon under investigation
- Records observations in a field diary
- Data is analysed
What is an semi-structured observation?
- Researcher knows which aspects or elements of the action or the phenomena they wish to observe
- Designs a semi-structured observation schedule in order to facilitate that observation
- Researcher observes the elements or aspects of the action or the phenomenon and then records those observations in the semi-structured observation schedule they have designed for the research
What is a structured observation?
- Researcher knows precisely the aspects and elements of the action or the phenomena they wish to observe
- Designs a structured observation schedule in order to facilitate that observation
- The researcher observes and records every incident of the phenomenon under investigation
- The researcher records those observations in the structured observation schedule
What is participant observation?
- Research method for facilitating an ethnography - researcher going into a natural setting to observe the phenomenon under investigation from the perspective of those experiencing the phenomenon
- Unstructured observation in natural settings
- Extended contact with subjects
What are the pros of observation?
- Measure what people do, not what they say
- Time effective means of data colleciotn
- Structured observation can achieve high levels of inter-observer reliability
- Can yield quantitative or qualitative data
What are the cons of observation?
- Overt behaviour measured and cognitions inferred
- Observer bias
- The act of observation can disturb the natural setting and lead to distortions in the behaviour of those being observed
What are the pros of participant observation?
- Maintains the naturalness of the setting
- Facilities an understand of processes
- Ecological validity
- HoliWhat are the cons of observation?stic
What are the cons of participant observation?
- Time and personal commitment
- Potentially dangerous
- Questionable relaitblity
What are the challenges in observation?
- Cognitive pheonomena are difficult to observe e.g. attitudes, beliefs, values. They can only be inferred
- Collection and subsequent interoperation of data may be problematic e.g. people observe what they want to see, selective attention
- Not all activity can be recorded
- Observer bias and observer effects which threaten validity
- Ethical issues
What is observer bias?
- Observers have cognitive limitations
- Physical and emotional states can affect what is perceived in the research
- There is inevitably an element of interpretation
- To minimise this bias, researchers need to be aware of the scope for bias