Observation is one of the most flexible strategies of scientific method in which it is intended to describe, encode, quantify and analyze the behavior to be evaluated. For this process to be valid it has to be done in a structured manner and following a series of phases.
Types of observation.
Passive observation | active observation.
Passive observation is exploratory moment in which there is no hypothesis proposed and external control is minimal. Meanwhile, active observation represents the largest data collection with a high degree of external control and the approach of a possible hypothesis.
Observation according to the degree of participation of the observer.
The observer need not be the researcher, since only limited to the collection of data. Accordingly we can distinguish between:
Non-participant observation: there is no relationship between the observer and the observed, not even know that physically speaking.
Participant observation: there is an initiative of the observer on the observed, as in an interview but trying to avoid colliding with the absence of reactivity.
Participation / observation: observer and the observed belong to the same natural group. It is when performed by a family member or a teacher with students. Expectaviva has some bias but decreases the reactivity and has greater accessibility to the subject to observe.
Self-observation: the observed and the observer are the same person.
Observation by levels of response.
Nonverbal behavior: facial expressions, behavior gestural, postural behavior …
Proxemics spatial or behavior: travel, location, distance.
vocal or extra-linguistic behavior: the sounds that also contain information observed.
verbal or linguistic behavior: the message that reproduces the observed, this being what most variety of study is.
Direct observation | Indirect observation.
This differentiation is based on the observability of the behaviors studied. In the case of direct observation must be conduct that our senses can perceive. In the case of indirect observation different types of information are involved. This is to distinguish between the manifest and those that are not behaviors.
In direct observation allows live recording percetibles, predominant behaviors on the interpretation. In indirect observation intrepretativa load is greater to find covert behaviors.
The observation procedure.
It is necessary to design a system for collecting appropriate data to the objectives so as to be as accurate and comparable as possible.
Designing a monitoring plan.
1st Definition of the target behavior.
It must be a defición behavior as valid, clear, objective and complete as possible. For the definition of a behavior can be performed in two different forms:
topographical definition of behavior, physical characteristics, movements involving the response and how to execute it.
functional definition of behavior: is defined by the effects it has on the environment observation.
2nd Choice of measurement method.
It is very important to know what parameters will observe and record the target behavior. They can be used measurement methods such as frequency, duration and intervals. The same behavior can be measured by various methods, although implying higher costs.
Measurement methods observation:
Impermanent products: it is to measure the physical evidence of a product, such as the number of problems solved or the number of broken pieces. It is precisely the presence of the observer at the time of performing behavior so interference is minimal.
Frequency method: the number of times that a behavior occurs in a time interval is recorded. Ideal for discrete behaviors.
Method duration: the duration of the behavior to observe, for example the number of hours of sleep made.
Binning method: is dividing the total observation time periods equal time. At each interval the observer. At each interval the presence or absence of behavior regardless of the time that has occurred is indicated. Useful for not discrete behaviors, which is difficult to know when is the beginning or the end or emitted many times.
3rd ID antecedent and consequent stimuli.
It is performing a record sequence of stimuli presented. Previously researcher encodes antecedents and consequences but without prejudice to be adding new behaviors that may appear. Record the antecedent and consequent behavior that accompanies it.
4th Preparation of the tabs.
You must create a record sheets depending on the target behaviors and elected to measure parameters. For the observer knows its operation definitions of behaviors should appear to observe and codes.
5th Registration periods.
The recommendation is to make records for various periods of time throughout the day (10-15 minutes long each) instead of making the record over longer periods to achieve a more significant sample. The total time will depend on the stability of behaviors to observe.
6th Election observers.
It is recommended that if possible measurements are enhanced by more than one independent observer. It seems logical to say that observers must be trained. If there are several they must not be in contact with each other when they are watching nor interacting with the observed subject. A person close to the individual shall be appropriate to make the observation, being properly trained for this.