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Chapter 6

Chapter 6 - Observational Methods.docx

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Anna Nagy

Chapter 6: Observational Methods Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches - Qualitative research focuses on people behaving in natural settings and describing their world in their own words o Emphasizes collecting in-depth info of few individuals/limited settings o Conclusions are based on investigators interpretations - Quantitative research include larger samples o Conclusions based on statistical analysis of data - Ie. Teenagers and work [QN – surveys > stats, QL – focus groups > common themes] - Info is qualitative if expressed in nonnumerical terms using language and images Naturalistic Observation - AKA field work or field observation - The researcher makes observations in a particular natural setting over an extended period of time, using a variety of techniques to collect information o Roots in anthropology - Sylvia’s research on practical thinking [milk truck drivers] o findings that couldn’t have been found through formal models - helps understand how people in a social or cultural setting live, work, and experience the setting Description and interpretation of Data - goal is to provide a complete and accurate picture rather than to test a hypothesis formed prior to the study - detailed field notes at least once a day - observing ppl/events, interviewing key informants, examining doc from the setting. Usually involve audio and video-recording - second goal is to analyze what is observed o this leads to hypothesis that explain the data and make understand - a good report wil support the analysis with multiple confirmations o primarily contain qualitative data [richer/closer to phenomenon] Issues with Naturalistic Observation Participation and Concealment o nonparticipant observer/participant observer [insider role] o adv: can experience same events as natural participants o dis: may lose objectivity necessary to conduct scientific observation o also if person belongs to group that he is studied then observations will most likely be biased and conclusions will lack objectivity o concealed observation is less reactive than nonconcealed observation o nonconcealed can be more ethical and ppl often get used to observer  ‘American Love Story’ and ‘Real World’ o actuality there are degrees of participation/concealment o researchers must carefully determine what their role in the setting will be o informed consent is not usually necessary Defining the Scope of the Observation - researchers must often limit the scope of their observations to behaviours that are relevant to the central issues of the study Limits of Naturalistic Observation - cannot be used to study all phenomenon - best to study complex social settings both to understand the settings and to develop theories based on the observation - less useful to study well-defined hypothesis under precisely specified conditions - field research is very difficult to do unlike lab research - there is a ever changing pattern of events, researcher must record them all - analysis is not simple - negative case analysis: when an observation that does not fit the explanatory structure devised by the researcher is found the researcher revises the hypothesis and again examines all the data to make sure that they are consistent with the new
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