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Concepts and meanings of observation method
1 Meaning of observation methodWhen we speak of observational method we refer not so much to the observation that scientific research begins as one of the methods available to scientists for testing their hypotheses. Although any verification of a scientific hypothesis (also the experimental verification and the correlational) implies some sort of observation, usually discusses observational verification method when you try to verify a hypothesis or collect data of reality without introducing any kind of artifice, without exerting control over the independent variables or subjects to study, simply observing behaviors spontaneously running subjects.
This method is necessary because sometimes it is not possible to use either experimental verification or correlation, as happens for example when we try to study the behavior of the teacher in the classroom, or relations between members of a family, or the behavior of the leader in a youth band.
The observation that occurs in this method is systematic observation, and with it we can measure a series of parameters of conduct (duration, intensity, frequency,...) in circumstances of place, time and situation. Systematic observation is made using techniques of registration (e.g. annotation protocols), and in some cases also using technical means (video cameras, recorders,...) Usually studying non-verbal behavior (body movement), the spatial behavior (the spatial distance interpersonal communication), extra-linguistic behavior (tone of voice, speed, sequence in interventions) and linguistic behavior. Used primarily in ethology and psychotherapy or psychological intervention.
2. Definition of observation methodObservation as a method, involves the use of the senses, to gain conscious and directed, data that provide us with items for our research. It constitutes the first step of the scientific method, which allows us, from this, develop a hypothesis, and then again apply observation, to verify if this hypothesis is true.
Whenever we go to investigate, should start to raise the problem and objectives, placing it inside and a theoretical framework. Based on this observation, which may be quantitative and/or qualitative will be.
The observer while it plays an active role, does not interact with the object of his observation, but it collects data and behavior patterns. In some cases, when it comes to subjects, they can know that they are being watched, or ignore it. The observation can be carried out in their natural environment or in the laboratory. The observation may be made by human beings or by mechanical devices.
For that what is observed is reliable, should be done as objectively as possible (total objectivity is impossible) being planned and oriented to an end, to take into account what is important to pay attention and discarding the useless aspects. The observation should be subject to verification.
Observing does not modify the object of analysis, as Yes in experimentation, is limited to seeing it, touching it, hearing it, but without altering it. They can the observation result positive data that confirm our hypotheses, or refute them.
Observation as method can be applied both in the social sciences and natural sciences.