Observing Children in Their Natural Worlds: A Methodological Primer

Observing Children in Their Natural Worlds: A Methodological Primer

Observing Children in Their Natural Worlds: A Methodological Primer

Observing Children in Their Natural Worlds: A Methodological Primer

Synopsis

This second edition updates the methods based on new technologies, updates and increases the number of examples, and reorganizes so the theoretical material is up front. The author's decisions were guided by having used the first edition in classes at two universities. Consequently, he received feedback on the book from a variety of different perspectives--from groups of very conscientious and competent students and from colleagues around the world who have used the book. By consensus, the most popular aspect of the first edition was the organization of the book, where the student/researcher is guided through conceptualizing, designing, implementing, and writing up the research project. This basic organization is the same as in the first edition, however, within this organizational frame things have changed. The discussion of the place of direct observational methods in relation to different "qualitative" and "quantitative" research traditions has been kept, but expanded. Discussions of the use of direct observations in naturalistic settings (drawing from research methods in ethology and ethnography) and in more contrived settings (drawing from experimental psychology) are extended. Relatedly, an extended discussion has been added on theories of science guiding different research assumptions. In addition, sections of validity, reliability, and the ethics surrounding the research enterprise are also expanded. These constructs are not specific to observational methods but relevant to the general research process. In revised chapters in these areas the author provides grounding in the general concepts and then draws more specific focus to observational methods. The extended discussion of ethics is important, since issues related to who gets authorship on papers, how to complete Institutional Review Board forms, and honesty in reporting findings are all issues that face both junior and senior researchers alike. Practical issues of writing research papers are expanded in this edition, providing discussions of writing both review and empirical articles. Lastly, a new and extensive chapter on using technology in direct observational methods has been added, which reviews the available hardware and software in direct observational methods.

Excerpt

Writing a second edition of a textbook is in many ways easier than the first edition. in some ways it is more difficult. It is easier, as most writers know, because the organizational ideas of the book are already there. For me at least, the most difficult part of writing is organization, or knowing what it is I want to say. At a simple level, then, all the writer must do is to add new information to the extant template. the difficulty of revision is related to the ease, as strange as that might sound. Specifically, in the second edition I had to decide what to keep, what to expand, and what to cut.

My decisions were guided by having used the first edition in classes at both the University of Georgia (where I taught until 1998) and at the University of Minnesota. At Minnesota, I have used the book as part of a general research methods course I teach in the Department of Educational Psychology. the class has ma and PhD students from varied backgrounds, such as Special Education, School Psychology, and Psychology. Consequently, I received feedback on the book from a variety of different perspectives, from groups of very conscientious and competent students.

I have also based my revision decisions on feedback I received from colleagues around the world who have used the book. (The first edition has Korean and Japanese translations.) Dave Bjorklund, my friend and colleague, deserves special thanks.

By consensus, the most popular aspect of the first edition was the organization of the book, in which the student or researcher is guided through conceptualizing, designing, implementing, and writing the research project. So, this basic organization is the same as in the first edition.

Within this organizational frame, things have changed. For example, the discussion of the place of direct observational methods in relation to different qualitative and quantitative research traditions has been kept, but expanded. I have extended discussions of the use of direct observations in naturalistic setting (drawing from research methods in ethology and ethnography) and in more contrived settings (drawing from experimental psychology). the assumptions guiding research in these different areas is especially relevant as debate (and . . .

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