Observation is a valuable and rich source for gathering data for a qualitative study. It offers the researcher firsthand insight into a phenomenon by personally experiencing the same through his/her five senses (Creswell, 2013). It not only provides an inquirer with the opportunity to document participants, activities, settings, behaviors, and other aspects by directly observing them, but also permits him/her “to better understand and capture the context within which people interact” (Patton, 2002, p. 262). In addition to gaining direct access, observing subjects may enable the researcher to uncover (potential) efforts of deception such as impression management or discover aspects individuals/groups would be unwilling to share (Creswell, 2013; Patton, 2002). Likewise, one could argue that the many forms of observation, ranging from informal and unstructured to structured approaches, provide for diversity, flexibility, and applicability in many situations (US, n.d.). Patton (2002) further maintains that “firsthand experience with a setting and the people in the setting allows an inquirer to be open, discovery oriented, and inductive because, by being on-site, the observer has less need to rely on prior conception of the settings” (p. 262). This, in fact, may permit the researcher to observe and record transient aspects of human behavior and interaction, which may otherwise be missed (US, n.d.). Finally, observation offers “the opportunity to move beyond the selective perceptions of others” through direct experience and the application of personal knowledge to draw inferences (Patton, 2002, p. 264).
Unfortunately, observation requires training, detailed note taking, and experience in sorting through/reco...
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...tting behind the male student, and the women to the left of her appears to be listening. They may or may not be discussing something pertinent to the class. Finally, since at least two of the students are not wearing socks (front center female and back right female) and most of the students are wearing short sleeve shirts, it could be inferred that it is summer or at least a warmer climate that does not require warmer attire.
Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
University of Strathclyde. (n.d.). Advantages and disadvantages of observation. Retrieved from http://www.strath.ac.uk/aer/materials/3datacollection/unit5/advantagesanddisadvantagesofobservation/
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