Participant Observation Preparing for Jamaica 2013
What is participant observation? • Participant observation focuses on scientifically describing the customs of individual people’s and cultures. • The objective is to help researchers learn the perspectives held by study populations • Always takes place in community settings; study of a community’s daily activities • Provides researchers with an insider’s perspective
May be done individually, in teams, or in pairs • Useful for gaining an understanding of the physical, social, cultural, and economic contexts of a community • Provides an insight into the lives of people (relationships, behaviors, activities) • Research leads to answering and designing more questions
Most effective when… • Researchers who already possess a solid base of cultural awareness are better able to concentrate on the research question itself. • Diligent documentation • Objective over Subjective • People know what the research is about, develop objectives
Ethical Guidelines: • Be honest in your mission • Confidentiality • ask for permission to question participants • Protect the identities of participants that you interact with • Avoid personal information • Informed consent not necessary for participant observation, but is necessary when engaging in an in-depth interview
Responsibilities as a Participant Observer: • Observe people in their natural environments • Engage in daily activities (to some extent) • Interact with people socially • Identify and develop relationships
Where? *Depends on research goals* Where people go in their daily lives (medical facilities, social spots, restaurants/cafes, shopping Activities of interest (clubs, bars) Organized events (religious services, municipal activities, public information sessions)
What to Observe? • Appearance (clothing, age, gender, physical appearance) • Verbal behavior and interactions (conversations, languages/dialects, tone of voice) • Physical behavior and gestures (what people do/how they interact) • Personal space (how close people get to one another) • Human traffic (people who enter, leave, and spend time at sites) • People who stand out (who receive a lot of attention from others)
Note taking: • Take note of date/time/place/type of event • Leave space on page for expansion (review and add notes) • Be strategic • Use shorthand • Cover a range of observations • Identify questions for follow up
Styles of Communication (test) Monochronic VS. Polychronic • Time is money: M • To be late is rude: M • Schedules are sacred: M • The focus is on the task: M • Being made to wait is normal: P • Interruptions are life: P • Plans are fixed: M • Individualist: P
Test continued… • Focus on the person: P • Collectivist: M • Deadlines=approximation: P • To be late is to be late: P • Focus on the internal clock: P • Plans are always changing: P • Having to wait is an insult: M • People are never too busy: P • Interruptions are bad: M • People stand in line: M
5 Things I’ve learned about culture and myself from Chapter 3 • 1. In general, the Western world has a much more direct/low context communication style and the Eastern world is more indirect/high context. I think the indirect/high context is much more authentic and valuable. • 2. I am often way too blunt/direct about most things, may definitely have to step back and not offer so much information about myself when submerging myself in another culture (I would probably clash the indirect/high context style) • 3. I favor the “face is key” perspective as well as “the person” perspective as opposed to the more Western styles • 4. Interpret facial expressions from the host country culture’s point of view, not your own. • 5. There is a way to communicate with people of a different culture objectively and friendly. Should find a balance of direct and indirect communication.
Culture in the Workplace: • Perhaps more so than in any workplace, it is so important to be culturally aware when working in a classroom and attempting to teach children from another culture. • To effectively teach, one must integrate total knowledge of culture before moving onto any more detailed concepts. • (i.e. asking children to look at you when you talk to them may not be acceptable in all cultures…)
5 Observations I plan to make in a Jamaican classroom: • The priorities of learning objectives (what is their core curriculum like) Value on creative arts • Behavioral management • Daily schedule • Teachers delivery of lessons and understanding of how children are learning • physical environment (how classrooms are arranged) Many more!
Jamaican Education System: • Really focused on Early Childhood Education in Jamaica. I’m wondering how many parents actually send their children to school at the age of 2 or 3, in comparison with the infant/toddler programs we have in the U.S. • I read that for awhile parents did not think ECE was important. Wondering if they believed more in home schooling? Or perhaps they were not aware of the potential for learning young children have…
The Early Childhood Curriculum… • The first written Jamaican pre-school curriculum for children four to six years old was completed in 1973 through the Project for Early Childhood Education (PECE) • In 2010, Jamaican Early Childhood Curriculum Guide for Children Birth to Five Years. This new curriculum is presented in two volumes. Part 1 is the curriculum for children from birth to three years old, and Part 2 is the curriculum for children four and five years old. The curriculum in its entirety represents the first national effort to provide an early childhood curriculum for children from birth to five years old.
Values… Wellness Communication Culture Intellectual Empowerment Respect for Self, Others, and the Environment Resilience
Thematic Integrated Curriculum • Places equal emphasis on advancing children’s skills in the following domains: • Personal, social, and emotional skills • spirituality • Aesthetic or expressive skills • Intellectual and language skills • Fine and gross motor skills Presented in thematic units: Children are exposed to different themes of interest and relevance to their own life experiences on an ongoing basis.
I want to focus on… • Creative activities: on a daily basis children should have the opportunity to experience the creative arts, e.g. drawing and painting, constructing, dancing, singing or storytelling. • Devotion: this is traditionally done in Jamaican schools. At the early childhood level, this exercise should be fairly brief and the emphasis should be on character building and development of positive values and attitudes, e.g. caring, sharing, kindness, and honesty. • Valuing Culture: Perhaps I can learn about their culture with them • Outdoor activities: They really value exercise…outdoor play is a mandatory part of the day • Language arts: Especially communicating through writing
Resources: 1. Family Health International (2005). Qualitative Research Methods: A Data Collector’s Field Guide. Retrieved from: http://www.fhi360.org/NR/rdonlyres/emgox4xpcoyrysqspsgy5ww6mq7v4e44etd6toiejyxalhbmk5sdnef7fqlr3q6hlwa2ttj5524xbn/datacollectorguideenrh.pdf 2. The Peace Corps Cross-Cultural Workbook (Chapters 3 & 4) 3. http://www.my-island-jamaica.com/education_in_jamaica.html 4. Early Childhood Ed Curriculum: http://www.ecc.gov.jm/Downloads/Curriculum/JECCG_[Four-to-Five-Year-Old]__(final)_intrnt.pdf