While researchers endeavor to keep their observations as neutral as possible, it is sometimes difficult to separate their own biases from the subjects they observe. In the Discussion this week, you practiced your observation skills on a photograph. For this Application, you will now take the experience a step further by observing real life in a public setting of your choice. You will then write a paper that describes your observations and assesses how your role as the researcher can impact or bias your observations.
To prepare for this Application:
- Review the reading in Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods and the video segment “Doctoral Research: Ensuring Quality in Doctoral Research.”
- Review Stretching Exercise 3.1: Nonparticipant Observation Assignment (pp. 66–67) and the sample write-up of an observation of a public setting on pages 68–85. The assignment is based on this exercise.
- Select a public place to observe for one 30-minute period. Possible locations are a shopping center, a playground, a health club, or a coffee shop. Only one observation is required.
- Consider why you have chosen this setting. What biases might you bring into this observation? How might you manage them? What is your role as a researcher in this setting? What is the context?
- Be sure to note the following in your observation:
- Physical space–Where is this located? Is it indoors or outdoors? What is the shape and size of the space? What physical objects are in the space? How are they arranged?
- People–Who are they? Are they individuals, groups, or both? What are the people doing?
- Observe a public setting of your choice.
- Craft a 7-page paper in which you do the following:
- Describe the results of your observation, as fully as possible, in essay form.
- Correlate results of your observation to the roles of bias, context, and the researcher in qualitative research.