Observations can be used for both quantitative and qualitative research. However, as this article is about the latter, we shall restrict ourselves to discussing that. Basically, observations can mean observing a whole host of subjects whether it is events, activities, artefacts or even locations. However, it is particularly useful when you believe that people act in a different manner than they suggest. For instance:
“You might have an EAL (English as another language) teacher telling you that she elicits all the responses from her students. In other words, by using a series of questions, she gets them to tell her the answers that she is angling for. It is a two-way street and they do as much speaking English as she does. However, when you sit in on her lesson, she stands at the front of the class and talks solidly for ten minutes at a time. Not only does she not elicit the answers but she sprouts out English grammar rules that would confuse a professor of English.”
This would suggest that the teacher believes that she is teaching the class as she was taught when learning how to teach English as a Foreign Language but, in essence, she is teaching how she was taught at school as a child. Something like this could truly help your research particularly as it has wider implications on the education system. For example, how common is it that teachers don’t actually teach as they believe they are teaching?
In essence, to get the most out of your observations, you need to:
- Be organised and clear about what it is exactly that you are searching for.
- Work out how you will record your methods of observation before you start observing your subjects. Don’t leave it until you are in the process of observing to think how you will record your qualitative research.
- Write or record your observations as they happen. Under no circumstances should you rely on memory.
- Try to be invisible to the person you are observing. If your presence is really obvious, they make not act as they would naturally and that will not give you a proper picture of the situation. In fact, it could make your research invalid.
- Reflect upon and analyse your research material as soon as possible after the observation event. If you wait and let everything pile up, your memory will not be as clear and something important to your qualitative research could be forgotten.
What to do if you need help
Conducting research, whether it is quantitative or qualitative research can be confusing and time consuming as can writing a dissertation. You do not need to let it stress you out, however, or scupper your chances of getting a good degree because you can get help. We offer a full range of research and writing service that include dissertation writing, letter writing, research, proof reading and editing. To find out how we can help you, contact us now.