Experimental Observation

n Modules 4a and 4b, we covered non-experimental designs, including observations that take place in a natural setting. Naturalistic observations involves the collection of data without manipulation of the environment and they are difficult to do well. To be successful, one must be unobtrusive; that is, no characteristics of the observation itself should have any effect on the behavior of the person/people under observation. One must also be able to attend to many things going on in the environment and document their observation in detail.

You will be given an opportunity to engage in this type of observation. You will identify some kind of behavior you are interested in studying and watch and record the behavior (and environment). You will use your notes as the basis for Assignment 3 (due in Module 5a). Please follow the steps below to complete this assignment.
Identify a behavior to observe (i.e. public transportation etiquette in NYC, families at play in a park, dog owners at a dog run, shoppers with friends, student behavior in the computer lab or library, pace of movement on your city’s sidewalks, taxi-hailing practices, etc.), select a population and a location for the observation, establish a research question about the behavior, operationally define your variables, and devise a hypothesis.
Go to the location and simply watch and keep notes. You are not to interact with people or intervene in any situation to manipulate the setting. You are not to ask anyone questions about their behaviors. Again, simply watch and keep notes. Read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observation

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You are to pick a SAFE space from which to observe. Use common sense and good judgment.
Keep a notebook with all your observations. What are people doing? What’s the setting like? What’s happening around you? What’s not happening (in some cases)? For example, if you’re on a bus and you notice people are not giving up their seat for an elderly or pregnant passenger, you might note that because it is something expected that is not taking place? What expectations did you have going into the observation? Thoughts you have before/during/after the observation? Also capture details about the participants, behavior, and the procedures you followed to complete the observation.
You should take at least one hour to conduct this observation.
Part A1 (Observation Information):
Please begin the report by first stating in list form the:
Operational Definition:
Specific Location:
Research Question:
Part A2 (Observation Report):

Then, in paragraph form, please provide an overview of the behavior you chose to observe and why, how you approached the observation (your design/method), what you observed, your findings, whether your hypothesis was supported, possible confounds, and the limitations of your observation (perhaps you were standing in a place with an obstructed view). Discuss any difficulties you encountered when coding the behavior? Would a second observer agree with your coding system and observational record? Why or why not? Finally, if given the opportunity to do the observation again, what you would have done differently. This piece should not be written as a narrative, but as a scientific report. The report should be addressed in the order presented above as this follows the basic flow of an APA style report. We will talk more about APA later in the semester.

Part A3 (Observation Reflection):

Then, for the last several paragraphs (labeled “Reflections”) discuss your reflections about the experience of this activity and what you learned about observational research. Additionally, discuss how you utilized (and/or considered) the things you learned about observations in Week 4a and 4b when preparing for, and conducting, your observation.

Part B:

Finally, as a separate attachment, but as part of the the same submission, submit your field notes as well (a jpeg or pdf, please).


RM in Psychology textbook – Chapter 6 (skip section 6.3)
Blackstone – Chapter 10
Read Researcher Studies Gangs by Leading One and Excerpt: ‘Gang Leader for a Day’, and listen to the conversation with Professor, sociologist, and ethnographer, Dr. Sudhir Venkatesh, about the seven years he spent time trying to learn about gang members in the Robert Taylor Homes housing project. (NPR, 2008 – here) (9:36)

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