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3 Observation as a research tool

Observation is an important tool for all researchers and is frequently used to collect data in both quantitative and qualitative studies. There is much more to observation than just 'watching' and there are different types of observation techniques which can be employed. This is the focus of the two sections you are going to study in the next PDF.


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2 Small-scale quantitative research using observation

The second research paper that we are going to consider is a rather different study from the one you read by Coates. This chapter is by a Japanese researcher, Takei. It differs not only in terms of the topic – the emergence of signs in young deaf children as a precursor to the development of sign language – but more importantly in terms of the underlying methodology. Both studies are observational in that both Coates and Takei watched and recorded what children were doing in relatively na
Author(s): The Open University

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1 Small-scale qualitative research using observation

The first research paper for you to read in this course is a small-scale qualitative study that uses observation as its central approach. In her paper Coates explores whether or not there is a relationship between what children talk about when they are drawing and what they actually draw. You should read this paper in stages and reflect on each part in turn as suggested below.

Good titles should reflect the content of a research paper and should give you enough information to decide wh
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Learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand observation as a research method

  • reflect on an experience of research studies with children which use observation as a data collection tool

  • understand the difference between a quantitative and qualitative approach to research

  • distinguish between describing and explaining in a research study.


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Introduction

This unit introduces you to analysing academic writing and, in particular, the way an article might be structured to clearly explain an investigation to other researchers. It explores the issue of observation of children and young people across the age range birth to 18 years using qualitative observation approaches in small-scale studies.

This material is from our archive and is an adapted extract from Research with children and young people (EK310), which is no longer taught by
Author(s): The Open University

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References

Donaldson, M. (1978) Children's Minds, London, Fontana.
O'Connell, B. and Bretherton, I. (1984) ‘Toddlers’ play alone and with mother: the role of maternal guidance’, in Bretherton, I. (ed.) Symbolic Play: the development of social understanding, London, Academic Press.
Rogoff, B. (1990) Apprenticeship in Thinking: cognitive development in social context
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1.3.2 The effect of bullying

When asked about what makes them unhappy the most commonly cited factor was bullying, either directly of themselves or of others within the school. Children gave the following reasons for feeling unhappy:

‘When people make fun of me’ Male, Year 6

‘Being called [names] for something you can't help …being shy’ Female, Year 10

‘Being told off and called names by the teacher and friends’ Male,
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1.2.2 How older pupils view school

For older children the work of school becomes less important in itself. Research that explored Scottish secondary school pupils' ideas about why they went to school revealed that for many pupils school served primarily as a social experience during the first two years and then later was seen as being instrumental in what would happen in their future lives:

‘You don't want to be one of these drunks and that you se
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1.2.4 Different classrooms, different experiences

The inclusive classroom is one that provides for the learning of a diverse range of children. The pupils in the above example were in streamed secondary education. The 1997 White Paper on education (DfEE, 1997) supported the policy of streaming by attainment in primary schools. Doug McAvoy, a former leader of a teaching union, interpreted this as ‘setting is good and mixed ability is bad’ (McAvoy, 1997, cited in Lyle, 1999). The practice of setting is endorsed through the National Literac
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Three-dimensional Input and Visualization
The aim of this chapter is to investigate techniques by which man-computer interaction could be improved, specifically in the context of architectural applications of CAD. In this application the object being designed is often an assembly of defined components. Even if the building is not actually fabricated from such components, it is usually conceptualized in these terms. In a conventional graphics- based CAD system these components are usually represented by graphical icons which are displaye
Author(s): Aish, Robert

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1.2 Actions

In Activity 1 below, the purpose is to observe and identify some of the actions or interventions that adults make in their day-to-day work with young people. Some examples of these individual actions are:

  • making contact

  • listening

  • suggesting

  • giving information

  • challenging assumptions.

Click in the box below to start playing the video.

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Transforming Engineering Design with AutoCAD 360 and Windows 8.1

Interested in seeing how line of business (LOB) apps built on Microsoft technologies are transforming commercial industries (e.g. retail, hospitality, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing) and public sectors (e.g. education, public safety)?  Check out this multi-part LaunchPad series on Channel 9 where we showcase critical LOB apps built on Windows 8.1, Office 365, Microsoft Azure and oth
Author(s): Baldwin Ng

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The Swastika Epidemic: Jewish Politics & Human Rights in the 1960s
James Loeffler discusses the outbreak of global antisemitism in 1960 that prompted a United Nations investigation, resulting in the creation of the world's first international law against racism and the new ideological charge: "Zionism is racism." Speaker Biography: James Loeffler is a John W. Kluge Center Fellow at the Library of Congress. For transcript, captions, and more information, visit http://www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/feature_wdesc.php?rec=6658
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Christopher Columbus Book of Privileges: The Claiming of a New World
John W. Hessler, Chet Van Duzer and Daniel De Simone discuss the book "Christopher Columbus Book of Privileges: Claiming of a New World." Speaker Biography: John W. Hessler is the curator of the Jay I. Kislak Collection for the Archaeology and History of the Early Americas at the Library. Speaker Biography: Daniel De Simone is a librarian at the Folger Library and a former curator of the Library's Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection. Speaker Biography: Chet Van Duzer is an invited research sch
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International Literature: International Writing Program Showcase
Christopher Merrill and his international students/alumni participate in panels and read from their work. Speakers included Bruce Armstrong, Cynthia Edul, Omar Pérez, Enrique Serrano, Natasha Tiniacos, Boaz Gaon, Mujib Mehrdad, Mamle Kabu, Sadek Mohammed, Binayak Banerjee, Bernice Chauly, Heekyung Eun, Chen Li, Franca Treur, Laurynas Katkus, Auguste Corteau and Gerõur Kristný. Speaker Biography: Christopher Merrill is the International Writing Program Director at the University of Iowa. F
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Mapping New World Peoples in Renaissance Europe
Kislak Fellow Surekha Davies discusses how Renaissance mapmakers devised distinctive motifs for the inhabitants of different parts of the Americas. For transcript, captions, and more information, visit http://www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/feature_wdesc.php?rec=6643
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Poet Timothy Donnelly
Poet Timothy Donnelly lectures and reads from his works. Speaker Biography: Timothy Donnelly is a Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award winner. For transcript, captions, and more information, visit http://www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/feature_wdesc.php?rec=6650
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Bibliographic Framework Initiative (BIBFRAME) Update - February 1, 2015
The Bibliographic Framework Initiative (BIBFRAME) is a major community challenge to provide an alternative to the deeply embedded MARC formats that will be more compatible with the Internet and linked data environment, and that offers new opportunities to leverage information. This update at the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association in Chicago, Ill., shares information on current developments as work continues on this significant effort. Speaker Biography: Beacher J.E. Wiggins
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The Western Flyers
The Western Flyers (Joey McKenzie, Katie Glassman and Gavin Kelso) perform in concert. For transcript, captions, and more information, visit http://www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/feature_wdesc.php?rec=6645
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