Observation methods of data collection in behavioral science


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Observation methods of data collection in behavioral science

  1. 1. Jack Odunga
  2. 2. The Observation Method: Outline  Definition  Importance  Goals  Philosophical stances or approaches in observation  Types of observation.  Steps in observation  Technical and Ethical guidelines for observation  Challenges :The problem of bias  Tips in observation (Overcoming Limitations)  Limitations  Conclusion  References
  3. 3. DEFINITION of the Observation method of Research.  Scientific observation is “a systematic description of events, behaviors, and artifacts in the social setting chosen for study“(Kawulich 2005) .  It’s a description of perceptions from the 5 senses of sight, hearing, touch ,taste and smell to provide a "written photograph" of the situation under study.  Unscientific observation is unsystematic; this is the everyday method.  Introspection , intuition or extrasensory observation by the 6th sense gives rise to describable extrasensory perception and expression of predictions and prophecies.
  4. 4. Importance of observation Research:  Provides direct , “real-time” information on ongoing and unfolding behavior, process, situation or event.  Useful when other data collection methods such as interviews seem inappropriate.
  5. 5. Goals in Observation:  GOALS of observing are usually descriptive or analytic but can also be predictive or creative in nature.  Descriptive Observation: gives how many, how much, what ,where, when, who, why, how of phenomena  Analytic Observation: provides explanations to associations and causal relationships  Predictive Observation :predicts new phenomena  Creative Observation: shapes or creates new social phenomena
  6. 6. Philosophical Perspectives or stance of Observation.  Making observations, like any other activity in life, is guided by beliefs or philosophical assumptions about the nature of a)the social world, b)science, c)human nature, d)knowledge(truth), e)reality and f)research toolkit or methodology.  The philosophical perspectives are a continuum that varies between extreme objectivism to extreme subjectivism.  There have been shifting philosophical paradigms over time such as positivisism, interactive symbolism, constructivism, interpretivisism heading to a state of a fractured future. Interpretivisism seems to be the current philosophical position in anthropology.
  7. 7. Types of observations: Systematic Observation. Vs Unsystematic observation Scientific or unscientific methods of observation Structured Observation Vs Unstructured Observation With or without observation checklists. Obtrusive Vs Non-Obtrusive Influence on participants or environment Direct Vs Indirect Measurement taken in relation to behavior measured Participant Observation Vs Non-participant Involvement with participants Noticed Vs Unnoticed Participant awareness Reactive Vs Non-reactive Participant reaction Global Vs Specific such as in shadow Variety of Behaviors
  8. 8. Physical stances or Approaches to observation: 1. Complete participant stance where the researcher is a member of the group being studied and conceals his/her researcher role from the group to avoid disrupting normal activity. This is unnoticed observation. 2. Participant as observer stance-the researcher is a member of the group being studied and the group is aware of the research activity. This is an emic approach where an insider is an observer.. 3. Observer as participant stance-The main role of the researcher is to collect data and the group being studied is aware of the researcher's observation activities. 4. Opposite extreme stance -unobtrusive and unknown to participants.
  9. 9. Participant observation  the researcher is involved in a variety of activities of the participants over an extended period of time that enable him/her to observe the cultural members in their daily lives and to participate in their activities to facilitate a better understanding of those behaviors and activities.  The main method in ethnographic research.
  10. 10. Unstructured Observation  In unstructured observation, the researcher enters the field with some general ideas of what might be salient, but not of what specifically will be observed.  Observation is holistic, unstructured, and unfocused, with the investigator attempting to document as much as possible about the setting and its participant.s
  11. 11. Technical & ethical guidelines for in Observation Research. These are some of the important guidelines:  To obtain IREC approval and research permit before the study.  To introduce oneself as a researcher when meeting the community for the first time.  To obtain consent.  To demonstrate awareness of and observe cultural norms.  To take field notes publicly to reinforce the research purpose of collecting data.  To preserve the anonymity of the participants in the final write-up and in field notes to prevent their identification.
  12. 12. Tips in Observation Research. Be unobtrusive in dress and actions Become familiar with the setting before beginning to collect data Keep the observations short at first to keep from becoming overwhelmed Be honest, but not too technical or detailed, in explaining to participants what you are doing.
  13. 13. Steps in Observation  Consider ethical issues such as privacy, confidentiality or anonymity of participants and informed consent  Make decisions on what and when to observe depending on the research questions to be answered.  Conduct observations systematically.  Recording observations involves keeping field notes and sometimes use of technology such as photography and video-recording.  Transcribing of recorded observations is an important step before final data analysis.  Data Analysis methods can be done by using different approaches such as phenomenology, inductive and deductive thematic analysis. Conceptual analysis and constant comparative analysis may also be used  Final write up is mandatory in order to complete the documentation.
  14. 14. Challenges in Observation Research. There are a variety of challenge in adopting observation as a method of research:  The problem of Observer Bias.  Participant Reactivity.  Lack of Control over events and circumstances during observation.  Ethical Issues regarding informed consent, anonymity, confidentiality and privacy of participants.
  15. 15. Overcoming Challenges of the Observation Method of Research.  The problem of bias: Triangulation, by use of different observers, can be used to overcome observer bias when the observers agree on their findings.  Participant reactivity: Habituation strategy can be used when it is not possible for the observer to remain hidden. It is hoped that with time the participants under observation get used to the observer and start to behave naturally(Morrell 1995 ).  Lack of control of events : This is overcome when the observer chooses to observe certain events only under certain circumstances imposed by the observer.  Ethical Issues should always be considered and addressed as part and parcel of design and implementation of observation research.
  16. 16. Limitations of observation: It is an expensive method. The information provided is very limited. Unforeseen factors may interfere with observational tasks.
  17. 17. CONCLUSSION  Observation Research is an important method of data collection in psychological anthropology.  Different types of observation exist; may be direct or indirect, noticed or unnoticed, participant or non- participant, structured or unstructured and global or specific  Scientific observation is systematic.  It is deliberate and purposeful  It is stepwise with clear technical and ethical guidelines. However it has limitations that need to be overcome by complementing with other research methods like interviews of participants and use of experiments.
  18. 18. References  Dey.I (2005). Qualitative data analysis: A user-friendly guide for social scientists Published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2005.  Morell 1995 quoted by Goodwin J-2010 in Research in Psychology: methods and design 6th ed pp 454.  Kawulich, Barbara B. (2005). Participant Observation as a Data Collection Method .  Kothari.C (2004). Research Methodology:Methods and Techniques. Published by New Age International.
  19. 19. THANK YOU.  THANK YOU.