Time sampling[ edit ] Time sampling is a sampling method that involves the acquisition of representative samples by observing subjects at different time intervals. These time intervals can be chosen randomly or systematically.
Introduction Participant observation, for many years, has been a hallmark of both anthropological and sociological studies. In recent years, the field of education has seen an increase in the number of qualitative studies that include participant observation as a way to collect information.
Qualitative methods of data collection, such as interviewing, observation, and document analysis, have been included under the umbrella term of "ethnographic methods" in recent years.
The purpose of this paper is to discuss observation, particularly participant observation, as a tool for collecting data in qualitative research studies.
Aspects of observation discussed herein include various definitions of participant observation, some history of its use, the purposes for which such observation is used, the stances or roles of the observer, and additional information about when, what, and how to observe.
Further information is provided to address keeping field Observation method in research methodology and their use in writing up the final story.
Participant observation is the process enabling researchers to learn about the activities of the people under study in the natural setting through observing and participating in those activities.
Most anthropologists, he notes, need to maintain a sense of objectivity through distance. He defines participant observation as the process of establishing rapport within a community and learning to act in such a way as to blend into the community so that its members will act naturally, then removing oneself from the setting or community to immerse oneself in the data to understand what is going on and be able to write about it.
He includes more than just observation in the process of being a participant observer; he includes observation, natural conversations, interviews of various sorts, checklists, questionnaires, and unobtrusive methods.
FINE, in part, defines Observation method in research methodology ethnography" as being based on extensive observation in the field, a labor-intensive activity that sometimes lasts for years. In this description of the observation process, one is expected to become a part of the group being studied to the extent that the members themselves include the observer in the activity and turn to the observer for information about how the group is operating.
He also indicates that it is at this point, when members begin to ask the observer questions about the group and when they begin to include the observer in the "gossip," that it is time to leave the field. This process he describes of becoming a part of the community, while observing their behaviors and activities, is called participant observation.
The History of Participant Observation as a Method Participant observation is considered a staple in anthropological studies, especially in ethnographic studies, and has been used as a data collection method for over a century.
During this time, CUSHING learned the language, participated in the customs, was adopted by a pueblo, and was initiated into the priesthood.
Because he did not publish extensively about this culture, he was criticized as having gone native, meaning that he had lost his objectivity and, therefore, his ability to write analytically about the culture.
In my own research, I have been hesitant to write about religious ceremonies or other aspects of indigenous culture that I have observed, for example, for fear of relating information that my participants or other community members might feel should not be shared. When I first began conducting my ethnographic study of the Muscogee culture, I was made aware of several incidents in which researchers were perceived to have taken information they had obtained through interviews or observations and had published their findings without permission of the Creek people or done so without giving proper credit to the participants who had shared their lives with the researchers.
She took a job as a rent collector to interact with the people in buildings and offices and took a job as a seamstress in a sweatshop to better understand their lives. These sociological studies have brought into question the stance or positioning of the observer and generated more creative approaches to lending voice to others in the presentation of the findings of their studies GAITAN, By the s, participant observation was widely used by both anthropologists and sociologists.
The previously noted studies were some of the first to use the process of participant observation to obtain data for understanding various cultures and, as such, are considered to be required reading in anthropology classes.
Why Use Observation to Collect Data? Observation methods are useful to researchers in a variety of ways. They provide researchers with ways to check for nonverbal expression of feelings, determine who interacts with whom, grasp how participants communicate with each other, and check for how much time is spent on various activities SCHMUCK, They suggest that participant observation be used as a way to increase the validity 1 of the study, as observations may help the researcher have a better understanding of the context and phenomenon under study.
Validity is stronger with the use of additional strategies used with observation, such as interviewing, document analysis, or surveys, questionnaires, or other more quantitative methods.
It makes it possible to collect different types of data. It reduces the incidence of "reactivity" or people acting in a certain way when they are aware of being observed. It helps the researcher to develop questions that make sense in the native language or are culturally relevant.
Participant observation also enables the researcher to collect both quantitative and qualitative data through surveys and interviews. These include that it affords access to the "backstage culture" p.
DeWALT and DeWALT add that it improves the quality of data collection and interpretation and facilitates the development of new research questions or hypotheses p. To alleviate this potential bias problem, BERNARD suggests pretesting informants or selecting participants who are culturally competent in the topic being studied.
Such actions skew the description of cultural activities. To alleviate this problem, they advocate the use of systematic observation procedures to incorporate rigorous techniques for sampling and recording behavior that keep researchers from neglecting certain aspects of culture.
Their definition of structured observation directs who is observed, when and where they are observed, what is observed, and how the observations are recorded, providing a more quantitative observation than participant observation. For example, DeWALT and DeWALT note that male and female researchers have access to different information, as they have access to different people, settings, and bodies of knowledge.
The important thing, they note, is for the researcher to recognize what that exclusion means to the research process and that, after the researcher has been in the community for a while, the community is likely to have accepted the researcher to some degree.
Another potential limitation they mention is that of researcher bias. They note that, unless ethnographers use other methods than just participant observation, there is likelihood that they will fail to report the negative aspects of the cultural members.Controlled observations are usually overt as the researcher explains the research aim to the group, so the participants know they are being observed.
Controlled observations are also usually non-participant as the researcher avoids any direct contact with the group, keeping a distance (e.g.
observing behind a Author: Saul Mcleod. Observation, as the name implies, is a way of collecting data through observing. Observation data collection method is classified as a participatory study, because the researcher has to immerse herself in the setting where her respondents are, while taking notes and/or recording.
In addition to the methods listed above some individuals also include qualitative (as a distinct method) and archival methods when discussing descriptive research methods.
DeWALT and DeWALT () believe that "the goal for design of research using participant observation as a method is to develop a holistic understanding of the phenomena under study that is as objective and accurate as possible given the limitations of the method" (p). Observational research is defined as the method of viewing and recording the actions and behaviors of participants.
It is described as being a systematic observation method, which implies that the observation techniques are sensible and replicable procedures so that the research . Observational methods in psychological research entail the observation and description of a subject's behavior.
Researchers utilizing the observational method can exert varying amounts of control over the environment in which the observation takes place.