Observing Children in Their Natural Worlds
A Methodological Primer, Second Edition
Psychology Press – 2004 – 456 pages
This second edition updates the methods based on new technologies, updates and increases the number of examples, and reorganizes so the theoretical material is up front. The author's decisions were guided by having used the first edition in classes at two universities. Consequently, he received feedback on the book from a variety of different perspectives--from groups of very conscientious and competent students and from colleagues around the world who have used the book.
By consensus, the most popular aspect of the first edition was the organization of the book, where the student/researcher is guided through conceptualizing, designing, implementing, and writing up the research project. This basic organization is the same as in the first edition, however, within this organizational frame things have changed. The discussion of the place of direct observational methods in relation to different "qualitative" and "quantitative" research traditions has been kept, but expanded. Discussions of the use of direct observations in naturalistic settings (drawing from research methods in ethology and ethnography) and in more contrived settings (drawing from experimental psychology) are extended. Relatedly, an extended discussion has been added on theories of science guiding different research assumptions. In addition, sections of validity, reliability, and the ethics surrounding the research enterprise are also expanded. These constructs are not specific to observational methods but relevant to the general research process. In revised chapters in these areas the author provides grounding in the general concepts and then draws more specific focus to observational methods.
The extended discussion of ethics is important, since issues related to who gets authorship on papers, how to complete Institutional Review Board forms, and honesty in reporting findings are all issues that face both junior and senior researchers alike. Practical issues of writing research papers are expanded in this edition, providing discussions of writing both review and empirical articles. Lastly, a new and extensive chapter on using technology in direct observational methods has been added, which reviews the available hardware and software in direct observational methods.
"The organizational structure of the book leads the reader through the steps of conducting a research project, from initial idea to design, data collection, and writing. A further strength of this book is that the author offers many practical tips for researchers hoping to conduct high-quality observational research in naturalistic contexts. The book can be used easily for research methodology courses in that each chapter ends with a set of thought questions and exercises."
—Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Contents: Preface. The "Whys" and "Whens" of Using Observational Methods. Science, Psychology, and Research. Ethics in Research. Choosing a Perspective: Qualitative-Insider and Quantitative-Outsider Distinctions. Design and Specification in Observational Research: Some Important Issues to Consider. Initial Considerations: Entering the Field, Looking Around, and Refining the Plan. Observations: Coming up With Categories. Measuring Behavior and Rules for Sampling and Recording. Reliability. Validity. Indirect Observational Methods. J. Hoch, F.J. Symons, Computer-Assisted Recording and Observational Software Programs. The Research Report. Summing up: Using Observational Methods in Applied Settings.