This means a large sample can be obtained resulting in the findings being representative and having the ability to be generalized to a large population.. When participants know they are being watched they may act differently. The researcher simply records what they see in whatever way they can. With regard to human subjects Margaret Mead used this method to research the way of life of different tribes living on islands in the South Pacific.
Kathy Sylva used it to study children at play by observing their behavior in a playgroup in Oxfordshire. Like case studies naturalistic observation is often used to generate new ideas. Because it gives the researcher the opportunity to study the total situation it often suggests avenues of enquiry not thought of before. These observations are often conducted on a micro small scale and may lack a representative sample biased in relation to age, gender, social class or ethnicity.
This may result in the findings lacking the ability to be generalized to wider society. Natural observations are less reliable as other variables cannot be controlled. This makes it difficult for another researcher to repeat the study in exactly the same way. A further disadvantage is that the researcher needs to be trained to be able to recognise aspects of a situation that are psychologically significant and worth further attention.
With observations we do not have manipulations of variables or control over extraneous variables which means cause and effect relationships cannot be established. Participant observation is a variant of the above natural observations but here the researcher joins in and becomes part of the group they are studying to get a deeper insight into their lives.
If it were research on animals we would now not only be studying them in their natural habitat but be living alongside them as well! This approach was used by Leon Festinger in a famous study into a religious cult who believed that the end of the world was about to occur.
He joined the cult and studied how they reacted when the prophecy did not come true. The researcher takes a false identity and role, usually posing as a genuine member of the group. On the other hand, overt is where the researcher reveals his or her true identity and purpose to the group and asks permission to observe. This means they have to wait until they are alone and reply on their memory. This is a problem as they may forget details and are unlikely to remember direct quotations.
If the researcher becomes too involved they may lose objectivity and become bias. This is a problem as they could selectively report information instead of noting everything they observe. Thus reducing the validity of their data. With all observation studies an important decision the researcher has to make is how to classify and record the data. Usually this will involve a method of sampling. The three main sampling methods are:.
The observer decides in advance what types of behavior events she is interested in and records all occurrences. All other types of behavior are ignored. The observer decides in advance that observation will take place only during specified time periods e. Instantaneous target time sampling. The observer decides in advance the pre-selected moments when observation will take place and records what is happening at that instant. Regardless of the type of observational method used, the researcher must have a plan for recording data.
The types of data collected may take many forms:. The researcher must also determine the method of sampling and when to record data. In event sampling, the researcher determines which behaviors are of interest and records all occurrences, ignoring all other behavior. With time sampling , the observations take place for pre-determined periods of time such as 1 hour per day. Finally, instantaneous sampling determines, in advance, particular times instances when observations will be made.
The types of data recording methods and sampling methods are important to the reproducibility of the study. Observation Methods - Provides an overview of 3 types of observational research methods and includes a discussion of data recording. The 3 Basic Types of Descriptive Research Methods — Describes the 3 basic types of descriptive research methods — observational, case study, and survey methods.
Observation — Defines observational method and discusses common types of observational research methods. Observational Research — Defines observational research and contains links to resources for data analysis, including software. This pin will expire , on Change. This pin never expires. Select an expiration date. About Us Contact Us. Search Community Search Community. Observational Method This module describes the observational method of descriptive research and discusses its uses.
List reasons researchers use the observational method List and describe the three basics types of observational methods and provide examples. Explain the different ways that data is recorded when using the observational method.
Describe the benefits of using the observational method. Following is a list of some of those reasons and situations: When it is important that the research take place in a natural setting so the phenomenon or behavior is not influenced or disturbed in any way. When it is important to understand the setting that the observation is taking place in and how that may play a role in the results. If a topic has not been previously studied and little is known, it may be best to begin with observation in a natural setting.
This may provide the foundation for further study and hypothesis development in the future. The actual behavior of the participants has the potential to be different from what those individuals might report if they were asked. The types of data collected may take many forms: Written narrative field notes — This is the most descriptive and detailed form of data collection, but also the most difficult to analyze. This makes both recording and data analysis much easier. Participant observation and interviewing: Human organization , 16 3 , Qualitative and quantitative approaches.
Randomized, controlled trials, observational studies, and the hierarchy of research designs. New England Journal of Medicine , 25 , Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Handbook of research for educational communications and technology , Research methods in education and psychology: Essentials of behavioral research: Methods and data analysis. Three Approaches to Descriptive Research.
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.
Observational Research. What is Observational Research? Observational research (or field research) is a type of correlational (i.e., non-experimental) research in which a researcher observes ongoing behavior. There are a variety of types of observational research, each of which has both strengths and weaknesses.
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 two-way mirror).Author: Saul Mcleod. For a more developed discussion of the distinction between observation and participant observation see Savage () and for a discussion of participant observation as a methodology see Jorgensen ().
Observation is a complex research method because it often requires the researcher to play a number of roles and to use a number of techniques, including her/his ﬁ ve senses, to . Descriptive research methods are pretty much as they sound -- they describe situations. They do not make accurate predictions, and they do not determine cause and effect. There are three main types of descriptive methods: observational methods, case-study methods and survey methods.