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Participant Observation as a Data Collection Method ...
Volume 6, No. 2, Art. 43 – May 2005 . Participant Observation as a Data Collection Method. Barbara B. Kawulich. Abstract: Observation, particularly participant observation, has been used in a variety of disciplines as a tool for collecting data about people, processes, and cultures in qualitative research.

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In this way, they begin to be attentive to details and begin to practice active observing skills. She also looks at the frequency and duration of those activitiesinteractions and other subtle factors, such as informal, unplanned activities, symbolic meanings, nonverbal communication, physical clues, and what should happen that has not happened. The lesson here is that they must consciously try to remember bits of conversation and other details in chronological order.

Some may sit in their motel room and play cards or read novels to escape. By having them record on one side of their paper what information they take in through their senses and on the other side whatever thoughts, feelings, ideas they have about what is happening, they are more likely to begin to see the difference in observed data and their own construction or interpretation of the activity. Schensul, schensul, and lecompte (1999) list the following reasons for using participant observation in research to help the researcher get the feel for how things are organized and prioritized, how people interrelate, and what are the cultural parameters to show the researcher what the cultural members deem to be important in manners, leadership, politics, social interaction, and taboos to help the researcher become known to the cultural members, thereby easing facilitation of the research process and to provide the researcher with a source of questions to be addressed with participants (p.

Seeking out participants with different points of view enables the researcher to fully flesh out understanding of the topic in that culture. Wolcott indicates that fieldworkers of today should put themselves into their written discussion of the analysis without regaling the reader with self-reports of how well they did their job. Angrosino and deperez (2000) advocate using a structured observation process to maximize the efficiency of the field experience, minimize researcher bias, and facilitate replication or verification by others, all of which make the findings more objective.

Other researchers have taken a different approach to explaining how to conduct observations. Gold relates the four observation stances as follows , who is a member of the group being studied and who conceals hisher researcher role from the group to avoid disrupting normal activity. Most anthropologists, he notes, need to maintain a sense of objectivity through distance.

These key informants must be people who are respected by other cultural members and who are viewed to be neutral, to enable the researcher to meet informants in all of the various factions found in the culture. He further suggests that heshe organize the collected data into a narrative in which one may tell the story of a day or a week in the lives of informants, as they may have provided information in these terms in response to grand tour questions, that is, questions that encourage participants to elaborate on their description of a cultural scene (spradley, 1979). Schensul, schensul, and lecompte (1999) define participant observation as the process of learning through exposure to or involvement in the day-to-day or routine activities of participants in the researcher setting (p.

. They suggest using a nested sampling frame to determine differences in knowledge about a topic. Another excellent tool in questia school is the ability to keep articles organized in different project folders. 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.


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Research paper writing tools Cambridge Most anthropologists, he notes, need to maintain a sense of objectivity through distance. Johnson and sackett (1998) discuss participant observation as a source of erroneous description in behavioral research. It truly has been an invaluable resource in all ib curriculum areas. In this way, they begin to be attentive to details and begin to practice active observing skills. Merriam (1998) calls the stance of participant observer a schizophrenic activity (p. While ethnographers traditionally tried to understand others by observing them and writing detailed accounts of others lives from an outsider viewpoint, more recently, sociologists have taken a more insider viewpoint by studying groups in their own cultures. In either case, In this process, one must choose a site that will facilitate easy access to the data.
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    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. Automatically generated citations and bibliographies in mla, apa or chicago format drives focus to content, not commas. While there may be instances where covert observation methods might be appropriate, these situations are few and are suspect. The third stage they mention is called the intimate stage, during which the researcher has established relationships with cultural participants to the extent that heshe no longer has to think about what heshe says, but is as comfortable with the interaction as the participants are with herhim being there. During this stage, the language becomes more familiar to the researcher, but heshe still may not be fluent in its use.

    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. The cultural members are sharing information with the researcher, making himher welcome in the community, inviting himher to participate in and report on their activities. The researcher should draw a physical map of the setting, using as much detail as possible. Being attentive for any length of time is difficult to do. For example, dewalt and dewalt (2002) note that male and female researchers have access to different information, as they have access to different people, settings, and bodies of knowledge.

    Look at the interactions occurring in the setting, including who talks to whom, whose opinions are respected, how decisions are made. In ethnographic research, it is common for the researcher to live in the culture under study for extended periods of time and to return home for short breaks, then return to the research setting for more data collection. One does not discuss such topics in mixed company, so my writing about this subject might have endangered my reputation in the community or possibly inhibited my continued relationship with community members. Seeking out participants with different points of view enables the researcher to fully flesh out understanding of the topic in that culture. It is like a new world opened at their fingertips. Further information is provided to address keeping field notes and their use in writing up the final story. Exactly how does one go about conducting observation? Werner and schoepfle (1987, as cited in angrosino & deperez, 2000) focus on the process of conducting observations and describe three types of processes , in which one observes anything and everything, assuming that heshe knows nothing the disadvantage of this type is that it can lead to the collection of minutiae that may or may not be relevant to the study. In her 1998 book, merriam adds such elements as observing the conversation in terms of content, who speaks to whom, who listens, silences, the researchers own behavior and how that role affects those one is observing, and what one says or thinks. Autoethnography, in recent years, has become an accepted means for illustrating the knowledge production of researchers from their own perspective, incorporating their own feelings and emotions into the mix, as is illustrated by carolyn ellis (i. Individual identities must be described in ways that community members will not be able to identify the participants.

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    Some of the reasons they mention for a researchers not being included in activities include a lack of trust, the communitys discomfort with having an outsider there, potential danger to either the community or the researcher, and the communitys lack of funds to further support the researcher in the research. Several students have indicated that this was a fun exercise in which their children, who were the participants in the activity, were delighted to be involved they also noted that this provided them with a pictographic recollection of a part of their childrens lives that would be a keepsake. The researcher must determine to what extent heshe will participate in the lives of the participants and whether to intervene in a situation Buy now Research paper writing tools Cambridge

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    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. Kutsche states that, when one is trying to analyze interview information and observation field notes, heshe is trying to develop a model that helps to make sense of what the participants do. The third stage they mention is called the intimate stage, during which the researcher has established relationships with cultural participants to the extent that heshe no longer has to think about what heshe says, but is as comfortable with the interaction as the participants are with herhim being there Research paper writing tools Cambridge Buy now

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    The question of whether one has understood correctly lends itself to the internal validity question of whether the researcher has correctly understood the participants. Kawulich, 2004), leads me to believe that, while this may have been the case, it is also possible that he held the zuni people in such high esteem that he felt it impolitic or irreverent to do so. The researcher must determine to what extent heshe will participate in the lives of the participants and whether to intervene in a situation. Heshe should describe without judgment and avoid using meaningless adjectives, such as older (older than whatwhom?) or pretty (as compared to whatwhom?) use adjectives that help to describe the various aspects of the setting meaningfully (what is it that makes the house inviting?) Buy Research paper writing tools Cambridge at a discount

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    This is the first year i havent had kids complain about finding information. Such actions skew the description of cultural activities. Demunck and sobo also suggest talking with anyone who is willing to teach you. 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. They note that the information collected by anthropologists is not representative of the culture, as much of the data collected by these researchers is observed based on the researchers individual interest in a setting or behavior, rather than being representative of what actually happens in a culture Buy Online Research paper writing tools Cambridge

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    Participant observation as a data collection method 81 paragraphs. These activities also are useful for enabling the researcher to know what to observe and from whom to gather information. These key informants must be people who are respected by other cultural members and who are viewed to be neutral, to enable the researcher to meet informants in all of the various factions found in the culture. The researcher must determine to what extent heshe will participate in the lives of the participants and whether to intervene in a situation. Schensul, schensul, and lecompte (1999) list the following reasons for using participant observation in research to help the researcher get the feel for how things are organized and prioritized, how people interrelate, and what are the cultural parameters to show the researcher what the cultural members deem to be important in manners, leadership, politics, social interaction, and taboos to help the researcher become known to the cultural members, thereby easing facilitation of the research process and to provide the researcher with a source of questions to be addressed with participants (p Buy Research paper writing tools Cambridge Online at a discount

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    One does not discuss such topics in mixed company, so my writing about this subject might have endangered my reputation in the community or possibly inhibited my continued relationship with community members. Yet there are situations in which participation is required for understanding. At this point, i cant imagine assigning research papers without questia school. During this stage, the language becomes more familiar to the researcher, but heshe still may not be fluent in its use. Another limitation involved in conducting observations is noted by dewalt, dewalt, and wayland (1998).

    The researcher should set out an outline of the information heshe has, organize the information according to the outline, then move the points around as the argument of ones study dictates Research paper writing tools Cambridge For Sale

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    They suggest that the researcher take a participatory approach to research by including community members in the research process, beginning with obtaining culturally appropriate permission to conduct research and ensuring that the research addresses issues of importance to the community. Look at the interactions occurring in the setting, including who talks to whom, whose opinions are respected, how decisions are made. The process involves making decisions about what topics to include. The first of these elements includes the physical environment. The purpose of the exercise is to teach the students to begin observing and taking in information using their sight.

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    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. Those serving in a peripheral membership role observe in the setting but do not participate in activities, while active membership roles denote the researchers participation in certain or all activities, and full membership is reflected by fully participating in the culture. Wolcott (2001) suggests that fieldworkers ask themselves if they are making good use of the opportunity to learn what it is they want to know. He further advises that fieldworkers ask themselves if what they want to learn makes the best use of the opportunity presented Sale Research paper writing tools Cambridge

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