IB Qualitative Methods: Naturalistic Observation

There are many types of observation and you need to be able to describe and evaluate:

  • covert and overt
  • participant and non-participant
  • naturalistic observations

observation-powerpoint IB

Practice Questions

  1. Maurice had to carry out an observation for his A level coursework. He decided to observe body language in same sex and mixed sex groups. He placed signs on the walls of the sixth-form common room saying when the observation was to take place. Maurice sat in a corner of the common room and carried out an observation of everyday behaviour. This type of observation is

A structured

B naturalistic

C covert

D participant

2. Maurice created definitions of the behaviour he was looking for before carrying out the observation. Maurice then asked a friend to watch a television programme with him using these definitions. When Maurice and his friend compared scores they found that they had some big differences. The difference in scores is mainly an issue of

A inter-rater reliability

B task validity

C generalisability

D objectivity

3. A strength specific to overt observations is that…

A participants know they are taking part in a study so are able to give consent

B participants are more likely to act naturally than if they were in a covert observation

C there is less chance of demand characteristics affecting the results

D the observer is already part of the group so has greater insight into the behaviour being studied

4. One research method used in the Learning Approach is the observational method. One type of observation is an overt observation.

i. Outline the overt observational method. (3)

ii. Indicate whether the following four statements which relate to evaluating the observational method are either true or false. (4)

  • The data may not be valid as participants’ behaviour may change if they know they are being observed
  • If the observer is part of the group being observed their data is more objective than if they were not a member of the group being observed
  • Structured observations are more valid than natural observations as they are in a controlled environment
  • If two or more observers have similar results then reliability is low.

5. Give one strength of using time sampling rather than event sampling (2)

6. Compare the use of overt and covert observation (4)

7. Give one strength and one weakness of participant observation (4)

Extension question: extension question IB obs


Click to access 02e7e538205318348e000000.pdf

This paper uses naturalistic observation alongside some other methods such as questionnaires, to look at how stress affects family interactions and how this might link to the children behaviour age 5.

Another paper using naturalistic observation of families in their own homes looking at interactions patterns between family members, could be linked topic social factors and stress?

This paper looks at fathering in Indian families with young children living in the US and considers acculturation.


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