Participant Observation Activity
Questions and Assignment Description
You may observe people in any public place where there are a lot of people. Please observe for at least 30 minutes. Some examples include: malls, plazas, parking lots, campuses, gas stations, office buildings, restaurants, or anywhere else that’s public. During the observation session, write down your notes (see questions below), and then after the session write up a one page reaction paper to your experience. See further description below. Why do participant observation?
Why not just interview or “talk” to the people to get questions answered? · to gather information on an existing system, · to avoid the discrepancy between what people say and what they actually do, · when people may not be aware of certain behavior that, therefore, will not be uncovered by questioning or interviewing, · to reduce data gathering time that may be necessary to uncover processes that would otherwise require multiple interviews, · to avoid relying on verbal descriptions. A person's description may not provide a true picture of the process. For example, a person describing a problem with the system may not recognize the importance of or not mention an error message that would help pinpoint the problem. Only by observing the problem, will you see the error message. OK, So now what? How do we begin?
What do we “think” about while we’re people watching?
PREPARE FOR THE OBSERVATION
Develop a *set of questions* to ask yourself and answer WHILE you’re observing (without actually interacting with the people being observed) See below for specific questions to address for this project. Select Participants to Observe
Select 5-10 different people or groups of people to observe during this time period. We will also be moving locations (at least three in the mall) and see if that changes people’s behaviour. Determine Type of Observation
We will be...
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