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Observational Methods to Research the Student Experience

The main idea of the observation method is to watch at the setting, participants, and the situation and to present the results of this in the separate section of the research (Patton, 2002). Creswell (2007) is sure that the main strength of the observation is that watching at the situation one may notice many aspects which may never be considered in the simple conversation and even thorough interviewing. Additionally, the observation method may last for several years and it is possible to understand all the changes and the flow of the considered process. Thus, the comparison is based not on the results at the beginning and at the end of the considered period, but during it (Keiding, 2011). Observation does not mean just watching at the setting and following the situation, different scientific means may be used in this case (Rutherford, 2011). However, our experiment does not presuppose the implementation of various scientific items as we are going just to watch and gather general information about shopping mall. Additionally, we will have to observe the place just once for 30 minutes. However, we are to remember about the disadvantages of the observation method while implementing it. Personal judgment and opinion cannot be omitted (Janesick, 2010).Thus, 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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I have been observing a shopping mall for 30 minutes. This time was not enough to gather some important statistical information devoted to the number of employees, the number of selling items, the priorities of customers, their opportunities in financial aspects and other specific information which may be go only after thorough consideration, long-term observation and research. However, 30 minutes is enough to consider some specific information and prepare an observation. To begin with, I would like to state that the observation was conducted in one of the shopping malls in the city. It is five stored building. I had enough time to walk around all five levels of the building, however, I cannot prepare the detailed description of the most shops and departments. Let us start with the discussion of the front view of the building, and then I will dwell upon each of the levels and describe some of the particular shops I managed to consider in detail.

The shopping mall I observed is situated in the center of the city. It is easy to reach the place as the bus-stop is 1 minute walk from the shopping mall. Additionally, there is the underground parking which seems rather convenient. It was rather difficult to count the number of the places for parking, however the lot accounted around 1000 places for parking. The system of payment is hourly. It is possible to enter the shopping mall directly from the parking lot or having leaved at the street and then enter the shopping mall through the main entrance. The five stored building is situated in the center of the city. The building facade is made of glass. It is of the round form and there are three entrances in the building. There are two lifts in the shopping mall, one staircase and one elevator in the center of the building. One lift is in the center of the shopping mall and it is made of glass that is why it is possible to see everything. The second place is in the corner and there is not glass cover that does not allow having a good view of the shopping mall.

The first floor of the building comprises 27 shops and departments. Five of them are the cosmetics and perfume shops, one shop with music CDs and DVDs and one department with video and film DVDs. There are 12 shops with clothes for women, 5 shops with men’s wear and 3 departments for children, one of which is with clothes and two are with toys. In the center of the first building there is café with two areas, for smoking and with no smoking tables. This place serves just light products, such as tea, coffee, juices and different sweets, like cakes, ice-cram, etc. There are several green spots on the first floor. The shops on the first floor are named by the brand names. There are such women’s wear shops as Benetton, Columbia, Miss Sixty, Guess, etc. Men’s wear clothes shops are named as Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, etc. However, most of the shops are multi-brands and having entered there one may find the clothes of different brands.

At the second floor the multi-brand shops with clothes predominated (22 of them). I included here two shops with underwear. One shop sold only brand expensive underwear and another one was directed only at women’s underwear. Additionally, there was one big shop with different music instruments, being called Yamaha, the shop sold the items by other brands. There were two shops which sold different staff connected with hair. One big shop sold tableware and one was directed at selling carpets. Two small cafes were collated at the second floor. One served an Italian food and another one looked like the fast food restaurant.

The third floor was full of big shops with one big restaurant which served sushi. One big department in the shopping mall sold different household appliances. It was possible to by there a small hairdryer and a big washing machine, or a refrigerator. The furniture shop was there as well with different departments depending on the room one wanted to furniture. There was one shop with toys and clothes for children, one shop with stationery and one shop with textile. One small restaurant was also located at this floor, however, I could not identify what food they served. It seemed to me that it was simple national food with some particular dishes of other cuisines.

The fourth floor was the only floor where the restaurant was absent. This floor was devoted to different building materials and other items necessary to for house repairs. Doors, building materials, sanitary engineering, building instruments, furniture which requires installation, etc. are some of the items which may be bought at the fourth floor. It should be mentioned that being the place for men, many single people were there and asked consultants about the differences in the quality of some items.

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The fifth floor could be called an entertaining one as there was a plying room with different play stations, five different dining spots and two restaurants were there with a fast food areas and a place for rest. Five halls of the cinema were located at the fifth floor. This floor was full of young people. It was difficult to meet people aged 65 and more, however, they were there.

People in the place are absolutely different. It is possible to meet people who seem to have enough money as looking at the cars in the parking lot and considering the places they make their shopping it may be concluded that these people belong to the prestige professions. They visit only high-cost brand shops, drink only top quality coffee. It is possible to distinguish these people by their cloths, haircuts, make-ups, etc. I met many people of this class and I want to say that their behavior was simple and unconstrained. There were two women and three men who wanted to look as those who belong to the previous class, however, they were too pompous and unnatural. Their language was not at the high levels, it was possible to see the absence of the simplest manners in their behavior (how they selected items and talked to the sellers). Most of people who were in the shopping mall were simple people who could not afford too expensive brand items, but they liked to look at expensive clothes and could afford to buy some items which belonged to the middle class. The age of the visitors of the place varies from the school-children aged 10-11 up to the old people aged 65 and more. I paid attention only to the individualities who were in the center without parents. In other words, I noticed 5 babied of several months from their birth, but they are not considered in the observation as they were with their parents. I did not pay attention to school children who were with their parents as well. There were many married couples, friends and other people walked by two. The next group of people depending on the number of people attending the shopping mill together is the individuals who were there along. Next come the groups of three in most cases it were parents with a child. There were many teenagers in the shopping mall who did not plan to buy anything and they wanted just to hang around. The teenagers were mostly in the groups of three and four people. The sex distribution was different. I cannot say whether men or women were more as the crowd was rather big as the day of the observation was Sunday and many people wanted to do shopping. To the word, it was easy to distinguish those who wanted to buy something and those who just wanted to spend their times walking around. Those who planned to do shopping looked only at the specific group of items only rarely entering the shops with the items they did not plan to buy. Those who wanted just to spend their time entered each shop, looked at the items for about 7-15 minutes and left. Considering the mood of people in the shopping mall, I noticed such a tendency that walking by the shop with toys for children people smiled.

The sellers in the shopping mall deserve additional attention. There were there classes of sellers which I managed to see. The first class of the sellers was those who were ready to help to each one without paying attention to the purposes of the sellers. The second class of the sellers was more selective and offered their services only when they saw that the customers were ready to buy something. Additionally, many customers were not ready to accept the assistance of the sellers and preferred to select the items individually only asking for the size, color, etc. The third class of the sellers was those who did not pay attention to anyone until the customer called him/her and asked for help. The politeness of all the sellers was on the high level. Listening to the pieces of advice sellers gave to the customers, it was obvious that sellers were trained and knew the quality of the items. Additionally, the consultants in the department of clothes and cosmetics seemed to graduate from some specific training classes as their pieces of advice devoted to the cloths, color and cosmetics were at the highest level. Their language was full of professional terms which still could be easily understood as the sellers did not use too complicated terminology.

Therefore, it may be concluded that the main idea of our qualitative research was to use the observation method for gathering information about the shopping mall. We managed to check the physical space and the people who were in the shopping mall. We discussed the location of the place, its front view and outside characteristics. Due to the small time I was given on observation and the observation was conducted only once I could not consider some statistic information and could not check the tendency and changes which occur in different days of the week. However, it was possible to notice the number of shops and their peculiarities. The observation gave an opportunity to dwell upon people who work in the shopping mall and those who worked there.

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.

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Keiding, T. (2011). Observing Participating Observation — A Re-description Based on Systems Theory. Historical Social Research, 36(1), 106-123.

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

Rutherford, H. (2011). Observation Station. Science & Children, 49(3), 37-41.

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