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Observation Method: Strengths and Limitations

Observation is one of the methods for data collection. One of the main important aspects of observation in comparison with interviewing is that while the interview, people do not tell everything thinking that it is not that important. However, in most cases specific gestures, behavior, etc. may be seen during using observation method (Creswell, 2007). One of the main purposes of observational method is to describe the setting, understand the situation and draw correct conclusions. Additionally, many people get used to some aspects and in cases when specific information is required they may miss it believing that these aspects are familiar to all. Therefore, the main strength of the observation is that the researcher is able to notice some aspects invisible for the objects or those which are considered as important by them (Patton, 2002). During the observation method, the researcher is able to consider the setting for several times noticing more and more important information. However, this method has a number of obstacles and limitations which prevent the researcher from considering the whole situation appropriately. Thus, when a researcher makes an observation, he/she cannot omit personal judgment and opinion (Janesick, 2010). Additionally, not all data may be gathered by means of observation method. Selectivity, memory limitations and stereotyping are the limitations to the method as well (Cotton, Stokes, & Cotton, 2010).

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Observation: Collecting Data by Means of Looking at the Picture

Looking at the photo 4 titled “Meeting” chosen for observation, it is possible to predict that a group of people is gathered for discussing some particular problem. It is obvious that the group is working on one specific project as all the participants of the meeting are looking into one note. These people look friendly and it may be said that hey do not quarrel about the aspects of the projects, they may just consider and discuss the variants for better application. I see that these people are bout 30-35 years old and I may make a conclusion that they have already been working together as the expressions on their faces do not show tension and other feelings and emotions which usually arose when people work together for the first time. Sitting in the circle, these people may discuss something on the similar rights even though there is an opinion that one person is dominant (a leader) and knows more about the project.

Considering the atmosphere on the photo, it may be predicted that these people work together for a long time and they gathered just to specify some aspects. The absence of the notes and other material for each person just shows that there is one person who knows everything about the project and others are gathered for making some comments, expressing their ideas and showing their experience in other spheres. It is possible to predict that it is the discussion of the working plan and other information related to working process. These people seem to stay in the working atmosphere that shows that it is not the discussion of the party menu. Additionally, a person at the right corner points at something in the notebook and we may predict that he is the leader and describes some important aspects of the project to other members of the meeting.

Reference List

Cotton, D. E., Stokes, A., & Cotton, P. A. (2010). Using observational methods to research the student experience. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 34(3), 463-473.

Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry & research design: choosing among five approaches. New York: Sage Publications.

Janesick, V. J. (2010). “Stretching” Exercises for Qualitative Researchers. New York: SAGE.

Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods. New York: SAGE.

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