Systematic Observation, Controlled Sampling And Predetermined Recording Methods

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Systematic observations consist of clearly outlined procedures, controlled sampling and predetermined recording methods. They make up a subset of naturalistic observations. Miller (1977) defines systematic observation as the addition of quantification to naturalistic investigations. Since a measurement scale is usually chosen before quantitative data is collected, the systematic method involves more planning in regards to what behaviors will get observed. The time and place for an observation are always determined prior to the observation and the observer must establish a specific operational definition for the targeted behavior, e.g. smiling is used as an indicator of joy. Systematic methods typically use coding systems to measure the frequency of particular behaviors. Some researchers develop their own coding system to fit their research, but many use systems that already exist where the reliability and validity have been supported by previous research, e.g. counting the number of smiles exhibited (Hintze). It is also common for a systematic observer to develop hypotheses about the observed behaviors prior to the observation (Cozby & Bates, 2011). Since hypotheses are formulated prior to the observation, statistical methods can be used after the observation is over to make inferences about the recorded data (Ostrov & Hart, 2013). The statistically based conclusions of systemic observation often contain less post-observation bias than naturalistic observations; it can be challenging to separate one’s interpretation of what was observed from what was actually observed. Contrarily, since hypotheses are constructed prior to observation, systemic observation may exclude important information that naturalistic observations include. ... ... middle of paper ... ... the observed behaviors, so the researcher might observe the class for a week or more. Another example of systematic observation can be seen in van Beek and Gerritsen’s (2010) study on the organization culture and quality of care in nursing homes. They used systematic observations to discern the quality of care being given at each location they visited, and correlated the quality of care they observed with the nursing staffs’ perceived level of care. Using statistical methods the workers’ perceived levels of care and the researchers’ observed levels of care were found to be directly related (i.e. positively correlated). Nursing homes with faculty that believe they are providing quality care tend to provide quality care. Van Beek and Gerritsen were also able to collect a detailed data set that allowed them to correlate level of care with several other variables.

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