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Lecture 12

Lecture 12: Unobtrusive Methods and Evaluation Research
Lecture 12: Unobtrusive Methods and Evaluation Research

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School
University of Toronto Scarborough
Department
Sociology
Course
SOCB05H3
Professor
Katie Stuart- Lahman
Semester
Summer

Description
st SOCB05 – Lecture 12 – August 1 2013 Unobtrusive Methods and Evaluation Research What are unobtrusive methods?  The researcher does not disturb or effect the social environment or peoples social behaviour in which they are studying.  Unobtrusive methods include: o Written or audio-visual records. Movies, songs, etc. o Material culture (physical objects, settings and traces) o Simple observations o Hardware techniques  Does not include: o Interviews, questionnaires o Manipulative experiments  Advantages o Studying actual behaviour rather than reported behaviour. There is no doubt about the reality of the events. o Safety o High reliability o Non-disruptive and non-reactive o Accessible  Can be found online or in libraries. o Cheap o Longitudinal data source  Disadvantages o Distortion of original record o De-contextualizing o Could be other variables that you cannot see Unobtrusive Research Methods  Analysing Existing Statistics o Examination of previously conducted statistical analysis – secondary analysis o Researcher uses both information and statistical inferences carried out by someone else o Sometimes you don’t get exactly what you wanted to study – validity o Supplemental source of data in both quantitative and qualitative research o The stats usually comes from government offices  Example: StatsCan o Problems of validity  Statistics may not measure exacty what we want them to or what they say they do o Problems of reliability  Depends on the quality of the research  Problems of change in data collection  Problems of record keeping  Physical Trace Measures o The remnants, fragments and products of people (or animals) past behaviour o Most often obtained indirectly o Three types:  Actual Physical Traces  Use Traces  Evidence that remains from the use or the non-use of an item  Example: If someone studied UofT garbage/recycling patterns they would notice that there aren’t any normal plastic water bottles here anymore.  Products  Constructions or artefacts that represent behaviour  Examples:  Animal or human behaviour  Graffiti  Erosion or wear  Litter o Validity o Reliability o Ethical Concerns  Still needs approval from ethics boards.  Can be seen as deception  Content Analysis o Study of recorded human communications o “A systematic analysis of the content rather than the structure of a communication, such as a written work, speech, or film. Including the study of thematic and symbolic elements to determine the objective or meaning of the communication” o Major purpose is to identify patterns and themes within artefacts o 4 Steps:  Have to decide what to observe. What are we going to look at?  Need to operationalize variables and conceptionalize. Because you need to know what your variables are if you are going to look for them.  Record observations  Analysis o Sampling  What is your unit of analysis/observation?  Select the population to be sampled from and design your sampling frame.  Make use of any conventional sampling technique: random, systematic, stratified.  Sub-sampling (cluster sampling) is often used. o Coding  Transforming raw data into a standardized form  Manifest Coding: Coding the visible, surface content of a communication  Example: Counting the number of times words such as love, kiss and hug appear in movies to determine how romantic they are.  Reliability: Sometimes things may mean different things to dif
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