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Observational Methods

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  1. Observational Methods Prepared for RMA -2nd semester school year 2009-2010 Prepared by : JARL

  2. Observational research techniques solely involve the researcher or researchers making observations. • Positive aspect : • observations are usually flexible • In terms of validity, observational research findings are considered to be strong • Negative aspect: • problems with reliability and generalizability Reliability refers the extent that observations can be replicated Generalizability, or external validity,

  3. In observational research, findings may only reflect a unique population and therefore cannot be generalized to others. There are also problems with researcher bias.

  4. Bias, however, can often be overcome with training or electronically recording observations. Hence, overall, observations are a valuable tool for researchers

  5. When do you consider using collecting your data through observation? • Is the topic sensitive? Are people uncomfortable or unwilling to answer questions about a particular subject?

  6. Can you observe the Phenomena? You must be able to observe what is relevant to your study.

  7. Do you have a lot of time? Many people don't realize that observational research may be time consuming. In order to obtain reliability, behaviors must be observed several times.

  8. Are you not sure what your looking for? Observations are a great way to start a research project.

  9. Types of Observations 1. Direct (Reactive) ObservationIn direct observations, people know that you are watching them. • Two commonly used types of direct observations: • Continuous Monitoring: (CM) involves observing a subject or subjects and recording (either manually, electronically, or both) as much of their behavior as possible. Continuos Monitoring is often used in organizational settings, such as evaluating performance. • Time Allocation: (TA) involves a researcher randomly selecting a place and time and then recording what people are doing when they are first seen and before they see you.

  10. 2. Unobtrusive Observation:Unobtrusive measures involves any method for studying behavior where individuals do NOT know they are being observed (don't you hate to think that this could have happened to you • Two types of unobtrusive research measures you may decide to undertake in the field: • Behavior Trace studies: trace studies involve findings things people leave behind and interpreting what they mean. This can be anything to vandalism to garbage. • Disguised Field Observations :the researcher pretends to join or actually is a member of a group and records data about that group. The group does not know they are being observed for research purposes. Here, the observer may take on a number of roles.

  11. Observational Variables • Descriptive:Descriptive observational variables require no inference making on the part of the researcher. Yo • Inferential:Inferential observational variables require the researcher to make inferences about what is observed and the underlying emotion. • Evaluative:Evaluative observational variables require the researcher to make an inference and a judgment from the behavior.

  12. Source : • Babbie, E. (1992). The practice of social research. (6th ed.). Chapter 11. California: Wadsworth. • Bernard, R. (1994). Research methods in anthropology. (2nd ed.) Chapters 14-15. California: AltaMira. • Gall, M., Borg., & Gall, J. (1996). Educational research. (6th ed.). Chapter 9. New York: Longman. • Montgomery, B. & Duck, S. (1991). Studying interpersonal interaction. Chapter 11. New York: Guilford. • Trochim’s Knowledge Base

  13. Visually- based Studies These range from studies which are largely design-based exploration, to those which use photographs, diagrams and their visual forms of analysis (such as Robert Venturi, Denise Scoot-Brown and Stephen Izenour’s Learning from Las Vegas) to intersections of multiple test, images and graphic: design (such as RemKoolhass and Bruce Mau’s SMLXL)

  14. Challenges Which visual will you adopt? How does visual strategy relate to the textual strategy of the thesis? How will the visual material contribute to the understanding or interpretation of the subject matter? How will you differentiate your thesis from the studio-based work