What is observation?Observation is way of gathering data by watching behavior, events, or noting physical characteristics in their natural setting. Observations can be overt (everyone knows they are being observed) or covert (no one knows they are being observed and the observer is concealed). The benefit of covert observation is that people are more likely to behave naturally if they do not know they are being observed. However, you will typically need to conduct overt observations because of ethical problems related to concealing your observation.
Observations can also be either direct or indirect. Direct observation is when you watch interactions, processes, or behaviors as they occur; for example, observing a teacher teachinga lesson from a written curriculum to determine whether they are delivering it with fidelity. Indirect observations are when you watch the results of interactions, processes, or behaviors; for example, measuring the amount of plate waste left by students in a school cafeteria to determine whether a new food is acceptable to them.
What are the advantages of observation?
>> Collect data where and when an event or activity
>> Does not rely on people’s willingness or ability
to provide information.
>> Allows you to directly see what people do rather
than relying on what people say they did.
What are the disadvantages of observation?>> Susceptible to observer bias.
>> Susceptible to the “hawthorne effect,” that is,
people usually perform better when they know
they are being observed, although indirect
observation may decrease this problem.
>> Can be expensive and time-consuming compared
to other data collection methods.
>> Does not increase your understanding of why
people behave as they do.