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How to do an observation Segment 29 & 30 - PSYCHSCI.

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Presentation on theme: "How to do an observation Segment 29 & 30 - PSYCHSCI."— Presentation transcript:

1 How to do an observation Segment 29 & 30 - PSYCHSCI

2 Types of Observations Structured Observation Semistructured Observation Observations in experiments Unstructured observation such as an ethnography (observational study of cultural practices) Self-observations such as diaries

3 Gathering information within an observation Use structured observation grids to narrow what you are looking for (related to the aim) – Orange book p.46 What behaviors are considered aggressive for a preschool child? Are those behaviors different by gender? Three types of sampling for the grids Time sampling: sample at pre-determined times Event sampling: record only a specific set of events (details of prom dancing) Point sampling: observe one participant’s behavior, then move on to the next participant

4 Gathering information within an observation Data-gathering devices Video Still camera Audio Hand-written notes (coding on the spot) Creating a code system (increases inter-rater reliability) Create codes for most all common activities (Coolican p.121-122)

5 Reliability in observations Inter-rater reliability (multiple researchers observing the same thing) decreases researcher bias Inter-rater reliability can be measured with a correlation coefficient

6 Participant v. non-participant observations Participant advantages High ecological validity Reduces participant expectancy (covert) Increases reliability & validity (covert) Participant Disadvantages Ethical concerns (covert) May not blend in enough to avoid participant expectancy Non-participant disadvantages Easy informed consent & low ethical concerns

7 Naturalistic observations Advantages Ecological validity is high Very detailed accounts Disadvantages Ethical dilemmas if covert Time-consuming, which reduces the # of participants

8 Covert v. Overt observations Advantages of Covert Less participant expectancy Disadvantages of Covert Ethical issues with deception Advantages of Overt Less ethical issues Best if long-term to make participants comfortable Disadvantages of Overt Increases participant expectancy

9 Setting up and carrying out an Observation Step 1 – choose goal(s) Exploratory goals Descriptive goals Evaluative goals Step 2 – learn about the topic with a thorough study of appropriate literature Step 3 – defocus (empty your mind of pre-conceived notions) Reduces researcher bias Allows for self-knowledge to increase reflexivity (personal knowledge? Bias?)

10 Setting up and carrying out an Observation Step 4 – research site Choose and set up based on three factors 1.Choose site/participants who will give richest data 2.(for ethnography) unfamiliar site w/o prior expertise increases credibility 3.Safe and physically accessable Step 5 - Decide on researcher role Participant? Covert? Naturalistic?

11 Setting up and carrying out an Observation Step 6 – gaining access to participants Gatekeepers (authorities who can provide access) are useful Informants (people that can translate information or behaviors) are vital These people might have bias!!!!!! Step 7 – climb the access ladder It takes time to get people to open up Step 8 – build rapport People must feel like sharing

12 Setting up and carrying out an Observation Step 9 – create thick descriptions (detailed accounts of setting and context as well as what happened) Reduces observer bias Embrace serendipity (que sera sera, what will be, will be!) Rigorous noted increase credibility Separate your facts and inferences Write the notes ASAP to avoid memory decay Write analytical memos when you make choices while in the observation Make maps and diagrams to visually explain setting Make a reflexive journal to note personal bias and feelings

13 Setting up and carrying out an Observation Step 10 – post-observation duties Discuss findings with key participants to verify Increase ethics and credibility Check & recheck interpretations with other researchers Increases inter-rater reliability Debrief participants

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