Observing Children in Their Natural Worlds: A Methodological Primer


This book is about ways in which to conduct observations. Observational methods are a set of research tools useful in describing and then explaining behaviors and interactions of children and adults alike. The methods presented are drawn from various disciplines--anthropology, psychology, sociology, and education. They describe peoples' interactions in settings as varied as schools, bus queues, and dinner time conversations. Further, the author draws extensively from the ethological literature that provides thorough and careful methods for observing animals in their natural habitats. These academic disciplines help to provide a set of procedures for describing interactions. Although various disciplines are used, the author's primary concern is with children and adults in school and family settings.

Written as a guide for students and researchers who are unfamiliar with observational methods, it is also useful to educators concerned with assessing children and teachers, as well as to researchers. This book is concerned primarily with using scientific and observational methods to solve everyday problems. The author believes that the distinction between "basic" and "applied" research is an artificial one to the extent that scientists gain insight into basic processes by studying everyday phenomena. To this end, chapters are arranged in a sequence from initially choosing to use observational methods to final discussions of data analysis.

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