Your SlideShare is downloading. ×
Merriam Ch 6_5.25.10
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5

Thanks for flagging this SlideShare!

Oops! An error has occurred.

Saving this for later? Get the SlideShare app to save on your phone or tablet. Read anywhere, anytime – even offline.
Text the download link to your phone
Standard text messaging rates apply

Merriam Ch 6_5.25.10


Published on

Published in: Technology, Education
1 Like
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total Views
On Slideshare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

Report content
Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

No notes for slide


  • 1. Being a Careful Observer
    Chapter Six
  • 2. Observation VS. Interview
    Takes place in the setting where the phenomenon of interest actually occurs
    Data represents first hand encounter with the phenomenon of interest
    Another location designated for interviewing
    Second hand account of the world
  • 3. Observation is a Research Tool
    Systematic-addresses a specific research question
    When it is subject to the checks and balances in producing trustworthy results.
    Negative-highly subjective and therefore unreliable nature of human perception.
  • 4. Training to be a Skilled Observer
    Learning to pay attention
    Learning how to write descriptively
    Practicing the disciplined recording of field notes
    Knowing how to separate detail from trivia
    Using rigorous methods to validate observations
  • 5. Ways to Practice
    Being a complete observer in a public place
    Being a participant observer in your work or social settings
    Watching films or video tapes
    Apprentice yourself to be an experienced field researcher and compare his or her observations to yours
  • 6. Reasons for Observations
    • As an outsider an observer will notice things that have become routine to the participants themselves.
    • 7. Conducted to triangulate emerging findings(used in with interviewing and document analysis)
    • 8. Observer sees things firsthand and uses own knowledge to interpret what is observed rather than relying on once-removed accounts from interviews.
  • Reasons continued
    • Observations make it possible to record data as it is happening.
    • 9. Used to provide knowledge of the context or to specific incidents.
    • 10. People may not feel free to talk about or want to discuss all topics.
    • 11. Best technique when an activity, event, or situation can be observed firsthand and a fresh perspective is desired.
  • What to Observe
    Most important is the researcher’s purpose in conducting the study
    The problem and the questions of interest determine what is to be observed.
    Observer can decide to focus on certain events, behaviors, or persons.
  • 12. Where to start?
    The physical setting:
    The participants:
    Activities and interactions:
    Subtle factors:
    Your own behavior:
  • 13. Things to remember
    No ideal amount of time to spend observing
    Recommended to start with sessions one hour or less.
    Also recommended to write up field notes as soon as possible.
  • 14. The Process of collecting Data through Observation
    Entry, Data collection, and Exit
  • 15. Entry
    Gain confidence and permission of those who can approve the activity.
    Mutual contact
    Some groups difficult to gain entry
    Most want answers to the following: What are actually doing? Will you be disruptive? What are you going to do with your findings? Why us? What will we get out of this?
    Bogdan and Biklen have some suggestions for the first few days in the field.
    Whatever is written or recorded during an
    observation becomes the raw data from which a
    study’s findings occur.
    Merriam states, this written account of the
    observation constitutes field notes, which are analogous, to the interview transcript
    (2009, page 128).
    Even if you, the researcher, have been able to take detailed notes, you must write them in a narrative
    form as soon as possible as to not forget any details.
    Pay attention
    Shift to a “narrow angle” by focusing on just
    one person, interaction, or activity
    Look for key words in people’s
    Concentrate on the first and last
    Mentally play back remarks and
    scenes during breaks.
    Field notes based on observation need to be in a format that will allow the researcher to find desired information easily (Merriam, 2009, page 130).
    Highly descriptive
    Begin with time, place, and purpose
    List the number of participants and any meaningful characteristics
    Create a diagram of the setting (example on pg. 132 Merriam)
    Describe the activities or behaviors of the participant and how the observer responds
  • 19. SUMMARY
    Observation is a major means of collecting data in qualitative research. It offers a firsthand account of the situation under study and, when combined with interviewing and document analysis, allows for a holistic interpretation of the phenomenon being investigated (Merriam, 2009, page 136).