Research Methods in Education

By Louis Cohen; Lawrence Manion et al. | Go to book overview

17

Observation
Observational data are attractive as they afford the researcher the opportunity to gather ‘live’ data from ‘live’ situations. The researcher is given the opportunity to look at what is taking place in situ rather than at second hand (Patton, 1990:203-5). This enables researchers to understand the context of programmes, to be open-ended and inductive, to see things that might otherwise be unconsciously missed, to discover things that participants might not freely talk about in interview situations, to move beyond perception-based data (e.g. opinions in interviews), and to access personal knowledge. Because observed incidents are less predictable there is a certain freshness to this form of data collection that is often denied in other forms, e.g. a questionnaire or a test. Observations, it is argued (Morrison, 1993:80), enable the researcher to gather data on:
the physical setting (e.g. the physical environment and its organization);
the human setting (e.g. the organization of people, the characteristics and make up of the groups or individuals being observed, for instance gender, class);
the interactional setting (e.g. the interactions that are taking place, formal, informal, planned, unplanned, verbal, non-verbal etc.);
the programme setting (e.g. the resources and their organization, pedagogic styles, curricula and their organization).

Patton (1990:202) suggests that observational data should enable the researcher to enter and understand the situation that is being described. The kind of observations available to the researcher lie on a continuum from unstructured to structured, responsive to pre-ordinate. A highly structured observation will know in advance what it is looking for (i.e. pre-ordinate observation) and will have its observation categories worked out in advance. A semi-structured observation will have an agenda of issues but will gather data to illuminate these issues in a far less pre-determined or systematic manner. An unstructured observation will be far less clear on what it is looking for and will therefore have to go into a situation and observe what is taking place before deciding on its significance for the research. In a nutshell, a structured observation will already have its hypotheses decided and will use the observational data to conform or refute these hypotheses. On the other hand, a semi-structured and, more particularly, an unstructured observation, will be hypothesis-generating rather than hypothesis-testing. The semi-structured and unstructured observations will review observational data before suggesting an explanation for the phenomena being observed.

Though it is possible to argue that all research is some form of participant observation since we cannot study the world without being part of it (Adler and Adler, 1994), nevertheless Gold (1958) offers a well-known classification of researcher roles in observation, that lie on a continuum. At one end is the complete participant, moving to the participant-as-observer, thence to the observer-as-participant, and finally to the complete observer. The move is from complete participation to complete detachment. The mid-points of this continuum strive to balance involvement with detachment, closeness with

-305-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Research Methods in Education
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 446

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.