Method of Research – Direct Observation

The main method that was used in the literature I researched was direct observation of children. I know that I will need to use direct observation to obtain the data I need to answer my research question. The reason I need to use observational data is because my “respondents are unwilling or unable to provide data through questionnaires or interviews, observation is a method that requires little from the individuals for whom you need data” (Center for Disease Control, 2008). My student would most likely be willing to answer interview questions, however, they are five and six years old and are developmentally unable to sit through long questionnaires without getting distracted or bored. Therefore, I believe that observing them during learning centers is a better option for me to collect data. I plan on also giving them a short survey after centers that will allow them to reflect on the activities and enjoyment of the learning centers.

I will need to design my own observational method of collecting data based on my research question. I have not decided on the exact question yet, but I have narrowed it down to a couple of choices. One of my concerns is whether I will be able to collect quality data on my subjects without being biased. I read, “A fundamental potential weakness of all observation is that it is susceptible to observer bias – subjective bias on the part of the observer – thus undermining the reliability and hence the validity of the data gathered. This can be because the observer records not what actually happened, but what they either wanted to see, expected to see, or merely thought they saw” (University of Strathclyde, 2015). I would really like my learning centers to be successful, but I also will have to remain objective.

I found a template that I believe would be useful to me regardless of my research question. The form consists of eight sections and I believe I could change the template to suit my research needs. I might be able to use it as it, but first I need to practice using the form before I start my actual data collection to make sure it works well for me (Positive Environments, Network of Trainers, 1990). My students currently have learning centers at least once a week, so I will try out the form starting next week. The more practice I have using the form, the easier it will be for me to collect data from my students.


Center for Disease Control. (2008, December). Data Collection Methods for Program Evaluation: Observation. Retrieved February 12, 2015, from Center for Disease Control:

Positive Environments, Network of Trainers. (1990). Functional Assessment Observation Form. Retrieved February 13, 2015, from Positive Environments, Network of Trainers:

University of Strathclyde. (2015). Advantages and disadvantages of observation. Retrieved February 13, 2015, from University of Strathclyde:


5 thoughts on “Method of Research – Direct Observation

  1. You make a great point about data collection, we need to understand how to use the tools and feel comfortable with them so that we can focus on the data collection and not still be trying to figure out our tools. You might want to consider videotaping if that can help you to review your data later and to help give context to your in-class observations. I would be interested in seeing your observation template, I have to design my own tool and I’m still reviewing similar forms.


  2. Great thinking here. I plan on videotaping my lessons for data collection and taking observational data from there. You make me wonder if it would be helpful (and more accurate) if I also could have a co-worker watch the lessons and take observational data as well. Having another set of less-biased eyes might be a good idea.


    1. That is a great idea. I might videotape mine as well! Thank you for the idea! I wonder if my aide would be unbiased enough to observe my centers….hmmm.


  3. You make a great point about being biased. It will be hard to not let our personal biases influence our observations. I also really like your idea of working with the method we will use to observe before we are actually doing it for our project. As we get closer and closer, I get excited for our projects and more nervous that mine will not be what it should be. But, it is about the process.


    1. I think we are all worried that it will not be what we planned, but like you said…it is all about the process. We are learning!


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