Disaster Management Field Research, and Observation(s)

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The assignment: Observation Instrument and Observer Instructions

PRESUME that you will be performing a research project on your topic and problem. You need accurate, valid, and reliable observations from a sample obtained from multiple sites by many co-investigators.

You will need to craft an 'instrument' or 'tool' to facilitate the observations of most interest to your study, and an accompanying training program for those surrogate /co-investigator.

Your goal is to assure inter-observer reliability, as well as overall reliability and validity of the observations.

Craft your instrument and instructions, and submit them.

My topic is in this assignment https://www.studypool.com/discuss/11595539/disaste... and https://www.studypool.com/discuss/11185348/disaste...


Disaster related research is still relatively new, and understanding what really occurs in impact, response, recovery is critical to planning mitigation and preparation as well. Often, events unfold in such a manner as to defy total recall.

Surveys can be constructed to get a subject's response (truthful or not) to a question or attempt to establish their state of knowledge; how do you record behavior (what they DO)? The answer comes as field research. Moving into the field and recording 'observations'. A hallmark of qualitative research methods.

Decide on a set of representative behaviors you wish to observe. Craft a 'check sheet' or 'behavior recording tool' for use by your colleagues, with "exemplar's" of what you mean by each behavioral attribute.

Finally, establish how YOU as the Principal Investigator (PI) will 'code' the behaviors in a such a way as to derive meaning from the observations.

Recommended Readings in the attachments and also this link http://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/fieldreport

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WEBC06 06/08/2015 20:10:39 Page 137 CHAPTER SIX Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. B EI N G A C A R E F U L OBSERVER Interviews are a primary source of data in qualitative research; so too are observations. Observations are common in many types of qualitative research, such as in case studies, ethnographies, and qualitative action research studies. Observations are especially important in ethnographic studies. Observations can be distinguished from interviews in two ways. First, observations take place in the setting where the phenomenon of interest naturally occurs rather than a location designated for the purpose of interviewing; second, observational data represent a firsthand encounter with the phenomenon of interest rather than a secondhand account of the world obtained in an interview. In the real world of collecting data, however, informal interviews and conversations are often interwoven with observation. The terms fieldwork and field study usually connote both activities (observation and informal interviews) and may also include the study of documents and artifacts. That caveat notwithstanding, the primary focus of this chapter is on the activity of observation—the use of observation as a research tool, the problem of what to observe, the relationship between observer and observed, and the means for recording observations. We also discuss the whole phenomenon of online observation, given that we now have the ability to observe at a distance through online and various virtual technologies. 137 WEBC06 06/08/2015 138 20:10:39 Page 138 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. OBSERVATION IN RESEARCH Being alive renders us natural observers of our everyday world and our behavior in it. What we learn helps us make sense of our world and guides our future actions. Most of this observation is routine— largely unconscious and unsystematic. It is part of living, part of our commonsense interaction with the world. But just as casually conversing with someone differs from interviewing, so too does this routine observation differ from research observation. Observation is a research tool when it is systematic, when it addresses a specific research question, and when it is subject to the checks and balances in producing trustworthy results. Critics of participant observation as a data-gathering technique point to the highly subjective and therefore unreliable nature of human perception. Human perception is also very selective. Consider a traffic accident at a busy intersection. From each different witness to the accident there will be a different, perhaps even contradictory, account of what happened. However, the witnesses were not planning to systematically observe the accident, nor were they trained in observational techniques. These factors differentiate everyday observation from research-related observation. Patton (2015) contends that comparing untrained observers with researchers is like comparing what “an amateur community talent show” can do compared with “professional performers” (p. 331). Training and mental preparation is as important in becoming a good observer as it is in becoming a good interviewer. Wolcott (1992) also notes that the difference between “mere mortals” and qualitative researchers is that “qualitative researchers, like others whose roles demand selective attentiveness—artists and novelists, detectives and spies, guards and thieves, to name a few—pay special attention to a few things to which others ordinarily give only passing attention. Observers of any ilk do no more: We all attend to certain things, and nobody attends to them all” (pp. 22–23). Just as you can learn to be a skilled interviewer, you can also learn to be a careful, systematic observer. Training to be a skilled observer includes “learning to pay attention,” learning how to write “descriptively,” practicing the disciplined recording of field notes, “knowing how to separate detail from trivia . . . and using systematic WEBC06 06/08/2015 20:10:39 Page 139 Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. BEING A CAREFUL OBSERVER 139 methods to validate and triangulate observations” (Patton, 2015, p. 331). You can practice observing in any number of ways—by being a complete observer in a public place, by being a participant observer in your work or social settings, or by watching films or videotapes. You can also apprentice yourself to an experienced field researcher, comparing his or her observations with yours. You might also read other people’s accounts of the experience. An investigator might want to gather data through observation for many reasons. As an outsider an observer will notice things that have become routine to the participants themselves, things that may lead to understanding the context. Observations are also conducted to triangulate emerging findings; that is, they are used in conjunction with interviewing and document analysis to substantiate the findings (see Chapter Nine). The participant observer sees things firsthand and uses his or her own knowledge and expertise in interpreting what is observed rather than relying on once-removed accounts from interviews. Observation makes it possible to record behavior as it is happening. Another reason to conduct observations is to provide some knowledge of the context or to provide specific incidents, behaviors, and so on that can be used as reference points for subsequent interviews. This is a particularly helpful strategy for understanding ill-defined phenomena. For example, in a study of respiratory therapists’ critical thinking, Mishoe (1995) observed therapists as they worked in the clinical setting, and shortly thereafter she interviewed them. She was thus able to ask them what they were thinking with regard to specific behaviors she had witnessed on site. As an aside, this type of interview is sometimes called “anchored interviewing,” as the interview questions are “anchored” to what was observed. Finally, people may not feel free to talk about or may not want to discuss all topics. In studying a small educational unit, for example, the researcher might observe dissension and strife among certain staff members that an interview would not reveal. Observation is the best technique to use when an activity, event, or situation can be observed firsthand, when a fresh perspective is desired, or when participants are not able or willing to discuss the topic under study. WEBC06 06/08/2015 140 Page 140 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION WHAT Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. 20:10:39 TO OBSERVE What to observe is determined by several factors. The most important is the researcher’s purpose in conducting the study in the first place. In other words, the theoretical framework, the problem, and the questions of interest determine what is to be observed. As we noted in Chapter Four, a researcher’s disciplinary orientation often determines how a problem is defined. An educator might observe a school because of an interest in how students learn, whereas a sociologist might visit the same school because of an interest in social institutions. Practical considerations also play a part in determining what to observe. Certain behavior is difficult to observe; further, a researcher must have the time, money, and energy to devote to observation and must be allowed to observe by those in the situation of interest. Observers need to be open to early impressions and feelings about what is going on in a setting because it is these early impressions that help determine subsequent patterns of observation. Schensul and LeCompte (2013) write that researchers’ curiosity will drive what they initially observe, and that over time “with repeated observation and questioning, the meanings of items, articles, patterns of behavior, and social relationships and events will become clearer” (p. 91). What to observe is partly a function of how structured the observer wants to be. Just as there is a range of structure in interviewing, there is also a range of structure in observation. The researcher can decide ahead of time to concentrate on observing certain events, behaviors, or persons. A code sheet might be used to record instances of specified behavior. Less-structured observations can be compared to a television camera scanning the area. Where to begin looking depends on the research question, but where to focus or stop action cannot be determined ahead of time. The focus must be allowed to emerge and in fact may change over the course of the study. Nevertheless, no one can observe everything, and the researcher must start somewhere. Several writers present lists of things to observe, at least to get started in the activity. Here is a checklist of elements likely to be present in any setting: WEBC06 06/08/2015 20:10:39 Page 141 Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. BEING A CAREFUL OBSERVER 141 1. The physical setting: What is the physical environment like? What is the context? What kinds of behavior is the setting designed for? How is space allocated? What objects, resources, technologies are in the setting? The principal’s office, the school bus, the cafeteria, and the classroom vary in physical attributes as well as in the anticipated behaviors. 2. The participants: Describe who is in the scene, how many people, and their roles. What brings these people together? Who is allowed here? Who is not here that you would expect to be here? What are the relevant characteristics of the participants? Further, what are the ways in which the people in this setting organize themselves? “Patterns and frequency of interactions, the direction of communication patterns . . . and changes in these patterns tell us things about the social environment” (Patton, 2015, p. 367). 3. Activities and interactions: What is going on? Is there a definable sequence of activities? How do the people interact with the activity and with one another? How are people and activities connected? What norms or rules structure the activities and interactions? When did the activity begin? How long does it last? Is it a typical activity, or unusual? 4. Conversation: What is the content of conversations in this setting? Who speaks to whom? Who listens? Quote directly, paraphrase, and summarize conversations. If possible, use a tape recorder to back up your note-taking. Note silences and nonverbal behavior that add meaning to the exchange. 5. Subtle factors: Less obvious but perhaps as important to the observation are  Informal and unplanned activities  Symbolic and connotative meanings of words  Nonverbal communication such as dress and physical space  Unobtrusive measures such as physical clues  “What does not happen” . . . especially if “certain things ought to happen or are expected to happen” (Patton, 2015, p. 379, emphasis in original) 6. Your own behavior: You are as much a part of the scene as participants. How is your role, whether as an observer or an intimate participant, affecting the scene you are observing? What do you say and do? In addition, what thoughts are you having WEBC06 06/08/2015 142 20:10:39 Page 142 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. about what is going on? These become “observer comments,” an important part of field notes. Each participant observation experience has its own rhythm and flow. The duration of a single observation or the total amount of time spent collecting data in this way is a function of the problem being investigated. There is no ideal amount of time to spend observing, nor is there one preferred pattern of observation. For some situations, observation over an extended period may be most appropriate; for others, shorter periodic observations make the most sense, given the purpose of the study and practical constraints. Most writers do recommend that when learning to do field work, sessions of an hour or less are recommended. Observations take enormous energy and concentration. Further, it is recommended that you allow for writing up your field notes as soon after the observation as possible. The process of collecting data through observations can be broken into the three stages: entry, data collection, and exit. Gaining entry into a site begins with gaining the confidence and permission of those who can approve the activity. This step is more easily accomplished through a mutual contact who can recommend the researcher to the “gatekeepers” involved. Even with an advocate working on your behalf, it may be difficult to gain entry to certain settings. In our experience, it is difficult for an outsider to gain entry to business and industry, some government agencies, and some groups because of the sensitivity or exclusivity of their mission (such as self-help groups, racial and ethnic groups, and so forth). Bogdan and Biklen (2011) point out that most groups will want answers to the following:     What are you actually going to do? Will you be disruptive? What are you going to do with your findings? Why us? Why have “they or their organizations” been “singled out for study”? (p. 88)  What will we get out of this? (pp. 87–88) You will increase your chances of gaining entry by being prepared to answer these questions as candidly as possible, being WEBC06 06/08/2015 20:10:39 Page 143 BEING A CAREFUL OBSERVER 143 persistent, and being able to adjust to modifications in your original request. Once you have gained entry, the following comments by Bogdan and Biklen (2011) can aid you in your first few days in the field:  “Do not take what happens in the field personally” (p. 91).  Have someone on site introduce you.  Keep the first observations fairly short to avoid becoming overwhelmed with the novelty of the situation.  Be relatively passive and unobtrusive, put people at ease, learn how to act and dress in the setting.  Be friendly and honest but not overly technical or detailed in Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. explaining what you are doing. They also suggest that the researcher establish rapport by fitting into the participants’ routines, finding some common ground with them, helping out on occasion, being friendly, and showing interest in the activity. Once you (the researcher) become familiar with the setting and begin to see what is there to observe, serious data collection can begin. There is little glamour and much hard work in this phase of research. It takes great concentration to observe intently, remember as much as possible, and then record in as much detail as possible what has been observed. Conducting an observation, even a short one, can be exhausting, especially in the beginning of a study. Everyone and everything is new; you do not know what will be important, so you try to observe everything; you are concerned about the effect you will have on the scene; you miss things while taking notes; and so on. It is probably best to do more frequent, shorter observations at first. The more familiar everything feels and the more comfortable you are in the setting, the longer you will be able to observe. The overall time spent on the site, the number of visits, and the number of observations made per visit cannot be precisely determined ahead of time. At some point, time and money will run out, and new information will be scarce. Ideally, depletion of resources coincides with saturation of information. Leaving the field, however, may be even more difficult than gaining entry. Relationships have been formed, habitual patterns established with regard to the site, WEBC06 06/08/2015 144 20:10:39 Page 144 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION and so on. Patton (2015, p. 405) recommends thinking through “an exit or disengagement strategy.” Bogdan and Biklen (2011, p. 116) suggest that “rather than abruptly ending this phase of . . . research, . . . ease out of the field by coming less frequently and then eventually stopping altogether.” In any case, “all field workers, novices and the more experienced, still worry about whether they got it all and got it right. No one gets it all, of course. But researchers ask themselves whether they have captured the range and the variation of patterns relevant to their topics” (Preissle & Grant, 2004, p. 180). RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OBSERVER AND OBSERVED Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. The researcher can assume one of several stances while collecting information as an observer; stances range from being a full participant—the investigator is a member of the group being observed— to being a spectator. Gold’s (1958) classic typology offers a spectrum of four possible stances: 1. Complete participant: The researcher is a member of the group being studied and conceals his or her observer role from the group so as not to disrupt the natural activity of the group. The inside information obtainable by using this method must be weighed against the possible disadvantages—loss of perspective on the group, being labeled a spy or traitor when research activities are revealed, and the questionable ethics of deceiving the other participants. 2. Participant as observer: The researcher’s observer activities, which are known to the group, are subordinate to the researcher’s role as a participant. Schensul and LeCompte (2013) refer to this as “a data-collection technique that requires the researcher to be present at, involved in, and actually recording the routine daily activities with people in the field setting” (p. 83), while maintaining an active participant role. The trade-off here is between the depth of the information revealed to the researcher and the level of confidentiality promised to the group in order to obtain this information. 3. Observer as participant: The researcher’s observer activities are known to the group; participation in the group is definitely WEBC06 06/08/2015 20:10:39 Page 145 BEING A CAREFUL OBSERVER 145 Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. secondary to the role of information gatherer. Using this method, the researcher may have access to many people and a wide range of information, but the level of the information revealed is controlled by the group members being investigated. Adler and Adler (1998) refer to this as a “peripheral membership role,” which is different from having an active membership role. Here researchers “observe and interact closely enough with members to establish an insider’s identity without participating in those activities constituting the core of group membership” (p. 85). 4. Complete observer: The researcher is either hidden from the group (for example, behind a one-way mirror) or in a completely public setting such as an airport or library. More recent work has defined yet another possible stance of the researcher vis-à-vis participants—that of the collaborative partner. This role is closest to being a complete participant on the continuum just detailed, but the investigator’s identity is clearly known to everyone involved. Although defined variously within the areas of teacher research, feminist research, or action and participatory research, the defining characteristic of this stance is that the investigator and the participants are equal partners in the research process—including defining the problem to be studied, collecting and analyzing data, and writing and disseminating the findings. (For further discussion of this role see Cranton & Merriam, 2015; Herr & Anderson, 2015.) Inherent in the full participant–full observer continuum is the extent to which the investigation is overt or covert. Whether the researcher is a complete participant or a complete observer, in some cases the “real” activity (or the details of exactly what the researcher is observing) is not entirely known to those being observed. This situation leads to ethical questions related to the privacy and protection of research subjects—issues discussed more fully in Chapter Nine. Uldam and McCurdy (2013) also discuss issues of covert and overt research in more detail. In reality, researchers are rarely total participants or total observers. Rather, there is often a mix of roles wherein one might either begin as a full participant and then withdraw into more of a researcher stance or the reverse: begin as a total observer and WEBC06 06/08/2015 Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. 146 20:10:39 Page 146 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION become more of a participant over time. Although the ideal in qualitative research is to get inside the perspective of the participants, full participation is not always possible. A researcher can never know exactly how it feels to be illiterate or mentally ill, for example. A question can also be raised as to just how much better it is to be an insider. Being born into a group, “going native,” or just being a member does not necessarily afford the perspective necessary for studying the phenomenon. Conversely, being a member of the group being studied may be the only way to gain access and obtain reliable information. Patton (2015) underscores the balance needed between insider and outsider in qualitative research. “Experiencing the program as an insider accentuates the participant part of participant observation. At the same time, the inquirer remains aware of being an outsider. The challenge is to combine participation and observation so as to become capable of understanding the setting as an insider while describing it to and for outsiders” (p. 338). As the researcher gains familiarity with the phenomenon being studied, the mix of participation and observation is likely to change. As Walford (2001) notes, being an observer is a “process of role definition, negotiation and renegotiation” (p. 62). Further, there is only one role initially open to researchers, despite the intent of the researcher, and that role is restricted to what those who are being observed “automatically assign . . . to a researcher” (p. 63). The researcher might begin as a spectator and gradually become involved in the activities being observed. In other situations an investigator might decide to join a group to see what it is actually like to be a participant and then gradually withdraw, eventually assuming the role of interested observer. Uldam and McCurdy (2013) provide an interesting discussion of insider and outsider status issues in conducting participant observation; they note how the roles can shift and change in studying involvement in various social movements. They highlight how this has happened in studying the Occupy movement; they also consider how the impact of social media can also change these roles further when one posts comments on media sites that members are a part of. Participant observation is a schizophrenic activity in that the researcher usually participates but not to the extent of becoming totally absorbed in the activity, at least in the way that conducting WEBC06 06/08/2015 20:10:39 Page 147 Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. BEING A CAREFUL OBSERVER 147 observation has been traditionally conceptualized. As Roach (2014) notes (and then deconstructs), in traditional conceptualizations of the participant observer role, the researcher tries to stay sufficiently detached to observe and analyze, while participating. But this is a marginal position and personally difficult to sustain. Gans (1982) captures the distress in being a researcher participant: “The temptation to become involved was ever-present. I had to fight the urge to shed the emotional handcuffs that bind the researcher, and to react spontaneously to the situation, to relate to people as a person and to derive pleasure rather than data from the situation. Often, I carried on an internal tug of war, to decide how much spontaneous participation was possible without missing something as a researcher” (p. 54). The ambiguity of participant observation can be one source of anxiety for the qualitative researcher. Gans (1982) cites three other sources that make this method of gathering data particularly difficult. There is, he writes, “the constant worry about the flow of research activities.” And he goes on to ask, “Is one doing the right thing at the right time, attending the right meeting, or talking to the right people?” (p. 58). Another source of anxiety is “how to make sense out of what one is studying, how not to be upset by the initial inability to understand and how to order the constant influx of data” (p. 59). Finally, the inherent deception in participant observation leads to “a pervasive feeling of guilt” and “a tendency to overidentify with the people being studied” (p. 59). Another concern is the extent to which the observer investigator affects what is being observed. In traditional models of research, the ideal is to be as objective and detached as possible so as not to “contaminate” the study. Feminist, postmodern, and critical researchers have problematized this position, however, arguing that the presence of anything or anyone in a research environment is going to have some effect (Roach, 2014), and that it is better to own one’s positionality and attempt to account for it. Further, in qualitative research in which the researcher is the primary instrument of data collection, subjectivity and interaction are assumed. The interdependency between the observer and the observed may bring about changes in both parties’ behaviors. The question, then, is not whether the process of observing affects what is observed, but how the researcher can identify those effects and account for them WEBC06 06/08/2015 Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. 148 20:10:40 Page 148 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION in interpreting the data. At the very least, participants who know they are being observed will tend to behave in socially acceptable ways and present themselves in a favorable manner. Further, participants will regulate their behavior in reaction to even subtle forms of feedback from the observer—as when notes are taken or behavior is attended to in a particular fashion. Finally, the mere presence of the observer in the setting can affect the climate of the setting, often effecting a more formal atmosphere than is usually the case. The extent to which an observer changes the situation studied is never entirely clear. Frankenberg (1982, p. 51) points out that in traditional anthropological studies the activities of an ethnographer (researcher) are not likely to change “custom and practice built up over years.” It is more likely that the researcher will prove to be “a catalyst for changes that are already taking place.” Others have suggested that, over time, the stability of a social setting is rarely disrupted by the presence of an observer. Further, as noted earlier, those researchers coming from feminist, postmodern, critical, or complexity science perspectives will argue that there is always an effect, which isn’t necessarily negative, and it’s simply best to try to account for the effect. It has been the experience of many field researchers that at first their presence may elicit more polite, formal, or guarded behavior, but this cannot be sustained; the social setting returns to its typical functioning. In any case, the researcher must be sensitive to the possible effects one might be having on the situation and account for those effects. “Observers,” Patton (2015, p. 413) writes, “must make an effort to observe themselves observing and record the effects of their observations on the people observed and, no less important, reflect on changes they’ve experienced from having been in the setting. This means being able to balance observation with reflection and manage the tension between engagement and detachment.” Wolcott (2005) sums up this “tension between engagement and detachment” by acknowledging that all researchers have to achieve a workable balance between participating and observing. There is always a question of whether those two processes constitute discrete functions or are hopelessly intertwined in the very act of anyone being anywhere, but it is comforting to have our own special label for what we do to WEBC06 06/08/2015 20:10:40 Page 149 BEING A CAREFUL OBSERVER 149 reassure ourselves that our being there is different from anyone else’s. That self-conscious role is what we examine when we discuss participant observation—how we can realize the potential not simply of being there, but of being so agonizingly selfconscious about it. (p. 89) Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. RECORDING OBSERVATIONS What is written down or mechanically recorded from a period of observation becomes the raw data from which a study’s findings eventually emerge. This written account of the observation constitutes field notes, which are analogous to the interview transcript. In both forms of data collection, the more complete the recording, the easier it is to analyze the data. How much can be captured during an observation? The answer depends on the researcher’s role and the extent to which he or she is a participant in the activity. On-site recording can thus range from continuous (especially for a total observer) to taking sketchy notes to not recording anything at all during an observation. Unfortunately, “writing field notes is an onerous task, but field notes constitute the basis for data upon which the study is based: no field notes, no data” (Schensul & LeCompte, 2013, p. 20). Although mechanical devices such as video cameras or laptop computers can be used to record observations, the cost and obtrusiveness of these methods often preclude their use. It is much more likely that a researcher will jot down notes during an observation and wait until afterward to record in detail what has been observed. Thus, unlike an interviewer, who can usually fall back on a tape recording of the session, a participant observer has to rely on memory and notes to recount the session. Of course, a tape recorder can be placed somewhere at the site of the observation, such as in the middle of a classroom or a group meeting; this tape recording can aid in writing up field notes of the observation, as it will surely capture some verbal aspects of the activity. Even if the researcher has been able to take detailed notes during an observation, it is imperative that full notes in a narrative format be written, typed, or dictated as soon after the observation as possible. It takes great self-discipline to sit down and describe something just observed. The observation itself is only half the WEBC06 06/08/2015 150 20:10:40 Page 150 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION work, and generally more fun than writing extensive field notes on what has just occurred. It is also highly likely that actually writing field notes will take longer than time spent in observation. Every researcher devises techniques for remembering and recording the specifics of an observation. It can be an intimidating part of qualitative research, however, and we advise beginning with short periods of observation, followed by practice recalling and recording data. Taylor and Bogdan (1984) offer some suggestions for recalling data. Later recall will be helped if during an observation investigators  Pay attention  Shift from a “wide angle” to a “narrow angle” lens—that is, Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. focusing “on a specific person, interaction, or activity, while mentally blocking out all the others” (p. 54)  Look for key words in people’s remarks that will stand out later  Concentrate on the first and last remarks in each conversation  Mentally play back remarks and scenes during breaks in the talking or observing Once the observation is completed, they suggest the following: leave the setting after observing as much as can be remembered; record field notes as soon as possible after observing; in case of a time lag between observing and recording, summarize or outline the observation; draw a diagram of the setting and trace movements through it; and incorporate pieces of data remembered at later times into the original field notes (Taylor & Bogdan, 1984). Many of our students have found it helpful to tape record what they recall from the observation just as soon as they leave the site (on the drive home, for example). Bogdan and Biklen (2011) also advise against talking to anyone about the observation before notes have been recorded, because “talking about it diffuses its importance” (p. 127). They also underscore the urgency of writing field notes as soon as possible: “The more time that passes between observing and recording the notes, the poorer your recall will be and the less likely you will ever get to record your data” (p. 127). Field notes based on observation need to be in a format that will allow the researcher to find desired information easily. Formats WEBC06 06/08/2015 20:10:40 Page 151 Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. BEING A CAREFUL OBSERVER 151 vary, but a set of notes usually begins with the time, place, and purpose of the observation. It is also helpful to list the participants present or at least to indicate how many and what kinds of people are present—described in ways meaningful to the research. If the researcher is observing a continuing professional education seminar for nurses, for example, it would be important to note the number of people present, whether they are supervisors or experienced or novice nurses, and demographic characteristics (such as age and gender), if relevant. A diagram of the setting’s physical aspects should also be included, indicating where participants and the researcher are situated. Other hints for setting up field notes are to leave a wide margin on one side of the page or the other for later notes; double space between segments of activity for ease of reading and data analysis; and use quotation marks when someone is directly quoted. You might also include consecutive line numbering down the left side of the page; this enables you to easily locate significant passages when analyzing the observational data. Field notes should be highly descriptive. What is described are the participants, the setting, the activities or behaviors of the participants, and what the observer does. By highly descriptive we mean that enough detail should be given that readers feel as if they are there, seeing what the observer sees. For example, instead of saying, “The conference room was neat and orderly,” you could write, “The four tables in the conference room were moved together to form a neat square with three chairs per table. Materials for the meeting were in blue notebook covers and placed on the tables, three to a table, one in front of each chair. In the center of each table was a pitcher of water and three glasses.” There is also an important reflective component of field notes. This reflective component is captured in observer commentary, indicated by being set apart from the description either in the right or left margins or in brackets in the commentary itself. Reflective comments can include the researcher’s feelings, reactions, hunches, initial interpretations, speculations, and working hypotheses. These comments are over and above factual descriptions of what is going on; they are comments on and thoughts about the setting, people, and activities. In raising questions about what is observed or speculating as to what it WEBC06 06/08/2015 152 20:10:40 Page 152 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION all means, the researcher is actually engaging in some preliminary data analysis. The joint collection and analysis of data is essential in qualitative research. The content of field notes usually includes the following:  Verbal descriptions of the setting, the people, the activities  Direct quotations or at least the substance of what people said  Observer’s comments—put in the margins or in the running Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. narrative and identified by underlining, italics, or bold and bracketing, and the initials “OC” Exhibit 6.1 presents field notes written after Sharan observed an exercise class at a senior center in Seoul, South Korea. She was particularly interested in instruction and in the interaction between teacher and senior adult students. Note the diagram of the layout of the classroom, including where she was sitting (“Me” in the lower center to the side of the group) and where the instructor was positioned (“I” at the center right in front of the group); the observer’s comments are interwoven throughout the recording. These are in italics and labeled “OC” to set them off from the observations. The field notes are highly descriptive to the point that the reader feels present on site with the researcher. The description should transport the reader to the site. Note, too, the observer comments in Exhibit 6.1. These comments are questions or notes about what is being observed; with these comments one is actually moving from description to beginning data analysis. Included in these field notes are descriptions of the artifacts on the wall in front of the room. Ethnographers often maintain something called a fieldwork journal—an introspective record of the anthropologist’s experience in the field. It includes his or her ideas, fears, mistakes, confusion, and reactions to the experience and can include thoughts about the research methodology itself. Walford (2001) reveals that he uses a small pocket tape recorder to capture a range of material “from early formulations of theories to shouts of anger, agony and self-pity. At the end of any traumatic experience I would simply talk all my anxiety into the tape recorder, and I would recommend that every ethnographer do this simply for the WEBC06 06/08/2015 20:10:41 Page 153 BEING A CAREFUL OBSERVER 153 EXHIBIT 6.1. KOREAN SENIOR CENTER FIELD NOTES. Researcher: Sharan Merriam Place: Korean Senior Center Purpose: To become acquainted with adult education for older adults in Korea Date/Time: Friday, March 24, 2006; 3–4:15 P.M. KOREAN SENIOR CENTER CLASSROOM LAYOUT. Music Room Kitchen Area Treadmill Bicycle Entrance I Plaques Clock Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. Women’s Area I’s Daughter Me Men’s Area When hearing about my interest in adult education and education for older adults, my neighbor invited me to visit the Senior Center close to our apartments. My neighbor is an exercise instructor three times a week at this center. My first visit I went to see what it was like and actually participated in the exercises. This second visit I went as an observer and did not participate. The specific focus of my observation was on the instruction and student/teacher interaction. (continued ) WEBC06 06/08/2015 154 20:10:41 Page 154 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. (Continued ) The Senior Center is in a stand-alone building in an apartment complex near my apartment. In addition to the Senior Center, about half of the building houses a preschool day-care center. The building is quite new and the center has been open only about four months. As we take our shoes off and enter the center, I notice a strong food smell. Apparently someone had done some cooking, perhaps using the kitchen, which is on one wall of the center (see the diagram). We enter a very spacious room, blond wood floors, white walls, four large plants (three near where I decide to sit); there are also two skylights, which help make the room quite light and open-feeling. My presence is acknowledged with smiles and slight bows from several of the participants whom I recall seeing during my first visit. The instructor’s daughter is also with us, and she seems invisible although she told me later it was her first visit. Everyone takes a chair and I sit off to the side. There are eleven women and three men. (OC—I assume the percentage of older females in Korea is greater than males as in the U.S. While I know these people live in the surrounding apartment buildings, I’m curious if these eleven live alone, with a spouse, or with other family members.) The instructor bows and the students applaud. (OC—they seem happy to see her.) A boy I guess to be about three years old is wandering around and doesn’t seem to be “with” anyone in particular. A couple of people get a chair for him. The instructor holds up a book and seems to be explaining what the overall plan of exercises is. The child runs around, runs out of the room, and returns to sit in the chair. (OC—I find out later that the child is the grandchild of one of the participants and goes to the day-care center next door—but at no time did I see any adult speak to him directly and although I guessed he might be from the day-care center, I did wonder why he was allowed to wander back and forth—maybe children/family members are OK to be at these classes?) The instructor is now showing diagrams of the human body from a book, moving around the room so everyone can see; she is talking all the time. (OC—seems she is sensitive to poor eyesight of WEBC06 06/08/2015 20:10:41 Page 155 Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. BEING A CAREFUL OBSERVER 155 some of the elderly; she also told me that she likes to have them understand what the exercises are trying to do with regard to their circulation, muscles, etc., that it’s not enough just to do the exercises— she seems conscious of the holistic nature of learning, mind and body.) All but one woman stands for some loose arm/hand exercises. Participants walk around the room swinging their arms. The instructor plays some relaxing instrumental music on a tape player and begins leading the group around the room—with each walk around one or two sit down until most everyone is sitting down. The three-year-old runs in and out of the adjoining room for the men, but no one seems to care or pay attention to him. The next set of exercises has the participants standing behind their chairs, using the chair for balance for some of the exercises. The instructor occasionally turns with her back to the group so they can see exactly how to do the exercises (and don’t have to transpose opposite sides of the body, etc.). The instructor gets the participants to count (I think they are counting) with her, which livens things up. Those who need to sit before the end of the exercises do so, with her encouraging them to do what they can from a sitting position. (OC—clearly the instructor is aware of their physical limitations and builds it into her instruction, i.e., modifying a standing exercise to fit a sitting position.) The instructor is constantly talking, making eye contact with individuals in the class, signaling a correction if needed. Her voice is very soothing and inviting; she smiles a lot and she does all the exercises with them. At about 3:40 P.M. a man I recognize from a previous visit comes in wearing a suit. He goes into the men’s area/room and returns minus his suit jacket and joins the exercise group. (OC— he must be some sort of official, as during my first visit he produced a tape player; he also looks younger than the others—I’ll have to ask about him.) At 3:45 P.M. the instructor brings out a bag of sponge balls, each about six inches in diameter. She demonstrates squeezing the ball, how to hold one’s elbows. She points to different parts of the body, apparently saying what the exercise is designed to do. More exercises with the balls, like reaching from left to right toes and back. At 4 P.M. the group moves into a circle. The instructor collects every other ball and then tries to get the (continued ) WEBC06 06/08/2015 156 20:10:42 Page 156 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION (Continued ) group to raise the ball up and under their leg and pass it on to the next person. There is some confusion here, but all the while people are laughing and joking with each other and with her. The group finally gets the hang of it, the exercise continues, and the balls move to the left. For the first time, the instructor is quiet and she lets them do the exercise, moving the balls to the left. (OC—another example of how she varies instruction, keeping the attention of the group.) Now everyone is given a ball and the instructor places a bag in the center of the circle. She demonstrates how to toss the ball into the bag, exaggerating the arm swing. Everyone tosses at once; her daughter helps collect the balls and the “toss” is repeated several times. The four men in the group seem to be especially enjoying this—smiling, laughing, and clearly eager to toss more balls. At 4:12 P.M. the balls are collected in the bag, everyone claps, and the class ends. (The instructor tells me later that the class is actually supposed to go 40–45 minutes, but “they seem to want more” and both times I visited, the class was a solid hour in length.) Some participants leave, two men go into the men’s area, several of the women go into the women’s area/room off the main entrance. While the instructor is doing some paperwork, I ask her daughter to explain the plaques on the front wall. Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. Documents/Artifacts The Senior Center contained a number of “artifacts” that I examined. First were the plants. There is a huge fern under the left front skylight. Near where I was sitting there were three plants in a row—a large green-leaf plant about six feet high, a smaller Japanese-looking plant next to that, and then a purple flowering plant next to that. These plants contributed to the comfortable, welcoming “feel” to the Center. In the left front corner there was a treadmill and a bicycle machine. I didn’t see either one being used at the time of my visit, but clearly they were there for use anytime. (I found out later most everything in the center has been donated, including a very sophisticated sound/TV setup for karaoke in a small room off the kitchen.) WEBC06 06/08/2015 20:10:42 Page 157 BEING A CAREFUL OBSERVER 157 The most interesting artifacts for me were a set of six wall plaques and one framed photo hanging on the front wall. Above the plaques was a framed picture of the Korean flag. To the right of these plaques was a wall clock, quite high up. Just below and to the right of the wall clock was what we would call a “grandfather clock”—a large standing clock (this was also donated). It was curious to me that the things on this wall seemed to be just “there,” with no particular aesthetic pattern in mind—no balancing of the plaques, and they weren’t in the center on the wall, but a bit to the right. The flag and wall clock were quite high. To me it seemed like a hodgepodge of things. The Plaques and Photo Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. The instructor’s daughter briefly described what each of these plaques said (they were different sizes, but about a foot square on average): 1. The first plaque said “Let’s be respectable seniors.” 2. The second said something to the effect that “Let’s transfer seniors’ good experiences and wisdom to young people.” 3. This plaque is the Senior Center Registration Certificate. 4. This one was apparently a list of things older people should do: Help our country Enjoy our life Be healthy Participate, even if you are old 5. The next was a plaque about the person who is apparently chairman of the Society of Older Adults at this site. 6. The next was a framed photo of eight men, four lined up on each side of the entrance to this new Senior Center building—it apparently is a photo of the opening ceremony. 7. The final plaque was a statement of the purpose of the center—service to society and to help each other. WEBC06 06/08/2015 158 20:10:42 Page 158 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION therapeutic effect alone” (p. 70). In addition to field notes and the fieldwork journal, you might also write analytical memos containing some preliminary analysis and interpretation. Qualitative researchers are more likely to use the integrated format described earlier, although some do keep a separate journal of the experience. That becomes a data source, and the researcher sometimes uses it when writing about the methodology. Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. ONLINE OBSERVATION This chapter would not be complete without some discussion of online observation and gathering observational data by making use of new media technologies. As noted earlier, observation (along with in-depth interviews) is an extremely important form of data collection in numerous types of qualitative studies examining or observing how a particular phenomenon unfolds, such as how groups learn, or how communication patterns play out in certain circumstances. It’s also a key data collection method in ethnography, which focuses on the examination of culture. There have been numerous discussions of late on digital, virtual, or cyber ethnography (Ardévol & Gómez-Cruz, 2014; Boellstorff, Nardi, Pearce, & Taylor, 2012; Underberg & Zorn, 2013). In their handbook on ethnography and virtual worlds, Boellstorff et al. (2012) argue that ethnographic methods need to be combined with an understanding of virtual worlds, since the online or virtual world is a whole culture in and of itself. Further, online communities are also typically subcultures of larger communities made up of people with a particular interest. For example, Gómez-Cruz conducted an ethnographic study of digital photographic sharing practices of digital photographers (Ardévol & Gómez-Cruz, 2014). In another example, Waldron (2013) conducted a cyber ethnography of music learning and teaching that happens through the online site Banjo Hangout (www.banjohangout.com). This is made up of banjo players and teachers; the site has connections to YouTube and other teaching and learning sites, as well as off-line communities of banjo players who began the site out of their own mutual interest. Waldron (2013) conducted her cyber ethnography entirely through computer mediated communication (CMC) through Skype interviews and online observations and discussions. Like WEBC06 06/08/2015 20:10:42 Page 159 Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. BEING A CAREFUL OBSERVER 159 Waldron, many ethnographers “observe” and participate in the culture and discussion in online communities while collecting data. But when researchers are collecting ethnographic data in an online observation, the unique medium of the technology must be considered (Boellstorff et al., 2012). Many of the issues of observation are the same as they are when the observer is physically present in the environment, but there are others that are particular to online and virtual environments. First is the issue of determining what counts as an observation and what counts as an online document, since in online discussions, blogs, etc., oftentimes the data is exclusively text based and can be printed out. For purposes of the discussion in this chapter on observation, we have opted to consider observation specifically in online, virtual, or cyber communities. However, we will return to further discussion of online documents in the next chapter on documents and artifacts. A second distinction between online observation through virtual presence and physical presence observations is that it is possible to do virtual or online observations from a completely hidden perspective. This is difficult to do in most situations where one is physically present in conducting an observation, though it is entirely possible in open, public venues like a shopping mall or bus station, or unusual situations, as when one is behind a one-way mirror. One can easily make a choice in most online world environments to conduct an observation from a hidden perspective as a “lurker”; one could also choose to be a participant observer and to ask questions or make comments in the virtual world. As discussed earlier in this chapter, researchers collecting data through observation need to decide the extent to which they will be a participant. However, in the virtual or online world, it is actually quite easy to make observations as a complete observer and to be hidden to participants. The ethics of doing so have been a point of some discussion among digital ethnographers (Boellstorff et al., 2012; James & Busher, 2012); however, collecting data through “lurking” is generally considered acceptable if it is totally public and archived, no password is required for archival data, and the site doesn’t prohibit it (Waldron, 2013). However, most cyber researchers want to make themselves known in such sites, because they often need to ask further questions or conduct interviews with particular participants; most are also particularly interested in the WEBC06 06/08/2015 Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. 160 20:10:42 Page 160 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION topic and have been participating in online communities related to the topic (Ardévol & Gómez-Cruz, 2014). A third issue in doing ethnographic online observation is related to the many cultural and folklore sites that have been created by museums and digital ethnographers to create access to cultures across the world. Underberg and Zorn (2013) in particular discuss the unique features of conducting ethnographies and observations of such sites. Typically such sites have been created in dialogue with computer specialists to scan images or create video that viewers can access online. Such computer mediated images do raise the question: is an image of a thing really the thing itself? And of course it is not. Nevertheless, such sites give access to images of artifacts and information and online community discussion and virtual tours in ways not available to an earlier generation. Virtual and digital ethnographers explore and conduct online observations of such sites to examine the unique features of these online cultures in digital, virtual, or cyber ethnographies. A last issue in conducting online observation concerns how one takes field notes. In the preceding example, Sharan developed her field notes from the Korean Senior Center from when she was physically present. Her notes were originally handwritten and then typed up. Cyber ethnographers also take field notes and make observations that they conduct in the field, but this can take a variety of forms. In his study of digital photographers (with both an online and off-line component), Gómez-Cruz wrote his notes in a field diary. However, he also used a smart phone to take both notes and pictures in the field. Hence “[t]he smartphone was, at once, a field data gathering tool and a constant connective device with the group members” (Ardévol & Gómez-Cruz, 2014, p. 512). He later used some of the pictures that he took in the field as a photo elicitation device to provoke discussion with participants in online discussion and individual interviews. Thus in conducting observations in online settings, it is as important to carefully document the process and to keep field notes in some form, and to carefully develop a process for doing so. SUMMARY Observation is a major means of collecting data in qualitative research. It offers a firsthand account of the situation under study WEBC06 06/08/2015 20:10:42 Page 161 Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. BEING A CAREFUL OBSERVER 161 and, when combined with interviewing and document analysis, allows for a holistic interpretation of the phenomenon being investigated. It is the technique of choice when behavior can be observed firsthand or when people cannot or will not discuss the research topic. Fieldwork, as participant observation is often called, involves going to the site, program, institution, setting—the field—to observe the phenomenon under study. Unless it is public behavior the researcher wants to observe, entry must first be gained from those in authority. While on site, the researcher is absorbed by what to observe, what to remember, what to record. This chapter presents some guidelines for these activities, such as what to observe, but ultimately the success of participant observation rests on the talent and skill of the investigator. There are several stances an investigator can assume when conducting observations, ranging from being a member of the group and a complete participant—an insider—to being a complete observer, unknown to those being observed; each stance has advantages and drawbacks. Regardless of the stance, an observer cannot help but affect and be affected by the setting, and this interaction may lead to some distortion of the situation as it exists under nonresearch conditions. Being at once a participant and an observer is a corollary of this method of data collection and is a problem not easily dealt with. Finally, while the area of digital, virtual, or cyber research is a burgeoning area of recent and future inquiry, there are unique features to observation in online and virtual settings that need to be considered in conducting such research. But whether one conducts observation in physical or virtual settings, observation is only half the process. Observations must be recorded in as much detail as possible to form the database for analysis. Field notes can come in many forms, but at the least they include descriptions, direct quotations, and observer comments. WEBC10 06/08/2015 20:21:41 Page 267 CHAPTER TEN Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. WRITING UP QUALITATIVE RESEARCH For most practitioners, doing research means designing a study that addresses some problem arising from practice, collecting and analyzing data relevant to the problem, and finally, interpreting the results. Often neglected—especially by graduate students who do much of the research in applied fields such as education, health care, social work, management, and so on—is the important step of reporting and disseminating results. The research is of little consequence if no one knows about it; other practitioners have no way to benefit from what the researcher learned in doing the study. For qualitative research in particular, being in the field collecting data is engaging and exciting; so is analyzing your data as you try to answer your questions. By contrast, sitting down and writing up your findings is not immediately rewarding, so it requires an incredible amount of discipline. Several factors contribute to making this stage of the research process particularly daunting. First, because data collection and analysis is continuous and simultaneous in qualitative research, there is no clean cutoff—no time when everything else stops and writing begins. Second, a great amount of qualitative data must be sorted through, selected, and woven into a coherent narrative. Finally, there is no standard format for reporting such data. Over 40 years ago Lofland (1974) commented on the lack of consensus: “Qualitative field research seems distinct in the degree to which its practitioners lack a public, shared, and codified conception of how what they do is done, and how what they report should be 267 WEBC10 06/08/2015 268 20:21:41 Page 268 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION formulated” (p. 101). Lofland’s observation is even more true today, as postmodernist critiques of traditional qualitative writing practices have resulted in the emergence of an incredible diversity inrepresentation:“autoethnography,fiction,poetry, drama,readers’ theater, writing stories, aphorisms, layered texts, conversations, epistles, polyvocal texts, comedy, satire, allegory, visual texts, hypertexts, museum displays, choreographed findings, and performance pieces, to name some” (Richardson, in Richardson & St. Pierre, 2005, p. 962). Although more advanced researchers may want to experiment with creative and postmodern forms of representing their findings, in this chapter we focus on writing up qualitative research congruent with the constructivist perspective of this book (see Chapter One). First, we offer suggestions as to how you can prepare for the writing of the report. In the second and major portion, we will examine the options available to researchers with regard to the content and dissemination of the report. A final section addresses writing up qualitative action research and arts based research. Although qualitative research reports can take an oral, pictorial, or even dramatic form, the focus of this chapter is on the more common written form. Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. PREPARING TO WRITE There are few things more frustrating than sitting down to a blank computer screen and not being able to write. Unfortunately, there is no formula to make this an easy task. You can read tips on how to write, talk to those who write a lot, read exemplary accounts—but, like learning to swim, there is no substitute for plunging in and doing it. This is not to say that it is a totally serendipitous or haphazard process. Writing up the results of your study can be greatly facilitated by attending to the following tasks prior to writing: determining the audience, selecting a focus, and outlining the report. DETERMINING THE AUDIENCE The first consideration—and one of the most important—in preparing to write your final report is deciding whom the report is for. Schatzman and Strauss (1973) call this process audience conjuring. “Since one can hardly write or say anything without there being WEBC10 06/08/2015 20:21:41 Page 269 Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. WRITING UP QUALITATIVE RESEARCH 269 some real or imagined audience to receive it, any description necessarily will vary according to the audience to which it is directed. Audiences ‘tell’ what substances to include, what to emphasize, and the level and complexity of abstractions needed to convey essential facts and ideas” (p. 118). Once it is clear who will be reading the report, you can ask what that audience would want to know about the study. The answer to that question can help structure the content of the report and determine the style of presentation. The primary audience interested in your results might be the general public, policymakers, the funding source, practitioners, the research community in your field, or members of the site or project studied. Each audience would have a different interest in the research and would require a somewhat different approach. Take, for example, a qualitative study of how older residents in an assisted care facility learn to use computers for study and entertainment. The general public, reading about the study in a popular magazine, would respond to a human interest report that highlighted the experiences of some of the residents. Policymakers, though, are concerned with policy options. Policymakers involved in legislation for the aged or nursing home administration might want to know how the program has affected the management of staff and residents, whether funding should be channeled into the project, and so on. The funding source for the study—a computer company, for example—would have its own questions, such as how the residents fared with their computers or whether this population represents a market. Practitioners would be most interested in whether the research setting sufficiently resembles their own situation to warrant adopting the same practice. “Practitioners may say they want tips,” writes Erickson (1986), “but experienced practitioners understand that the usefulness and appropriateness of any prescriptions for practice must be judged in relation to the specific circumstances of practice in their own setting. Thus the interest in learning by positive and negative example from a case study presupposes that the case is in some ways comparable to one’s own situation” (p. 153). With regard to the preceding example, practitioners in recreation and leisure studies, adult education, health education, and gerontology might be particularly interested in how learning to WEBC10 06/08/2015 Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. 270 20:21:41 Page 270 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION use computers enhanced the residents’ quality of life. Thus the implicit comparison would be between the residents and setting of the study and the residents and setting of the practitioner. Other researchers interested in the problem, including a thesis or dissertation committee, would need to know the theoretical framework and such technical aspects of the study as how the data were collected and analyzed and what was done to ensure reliability and validity. With this information they could judge the study’s value and its contribution to knowledge. Finally, the study’s results might be presented to those who participated. The main concern of participants, Erickson (1986) points out, relates to “their personal and institutional reputations” (p. 154). If the findings are to be helpful to the participants, “the reports must be sensitive to the variety of personal and institutional interests that are at stake in the kinds of information that are presented about people’s actions and thoughts” (p. 154). Patton (2015) underscores that reports need to be useful to participants, and “if you try to include everything, you risk losing your readers or audience members in the sheer volume of the presentation. To enhance a report’s coherence or a presentation’s impact, follow the adage that less is more. This translates into covering a few key findings or conclusions well, rather than lots of them poorly” (p. 621, emphasis in original). Determining the audience should help a researcher define the relative emphasis of different components of the research report. It may be even more helpful to address the report to a particular person in the target group, such as your advisor, a particular administrator, a friend who represents a general audience, and so on. By “speaking” to a specific person or group, you are more likely to adopt an appropriate tone (scholarly, academic, popular, personal) and be consistent throughout the report. Yin (2014) suggests not only examining the selected audience closely but also reading reports that have been previously submitted to this audience. A prior report can be used as a template for organizing your report. SELECTING A F OCU S The next step is to select a focus for the report. The focus depends on the audience for whom it is being written, the original purpose WEBC10 06/08/2015 20:21:41 Page 271 Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. WRITING UP QUALITATIVE RESEARCH 271 of the study, and the level of abstraction obtained during analysis of the data (see Chapter Eight). To illustrate how audience, purpose, and level of data analysis can be taken into consideration in determining the focus of a report, take the earlier example of teaching residents in an assisted care facility how to use computers. A report for a practitioneroriented journal or magazine could have as its focus the benefits of introducing computers into this environment; or the focus might be on tips for instructing older adults in computer usage. In either case, a full description of the setting would be important; the research study itself would be briefly summarized in jargon-free language; the benefits or tips would be highlighted. If the write-up of this same study were for a dissertation committee or scholarly research journal, the focus would reflect the purpose of the study—cognitive strategies employed by residents in learning to use computers, for example. If the study had developed a substantive theory, that would be the focus of the writeup. The report or article would emphasize the methodology of the study and the analysis and interpretation of the findings. Bogdan and Biklen (2011) suggest another type of focus—the thesis. A thesis is a proposition put forth to be argued and defended that often arises out of the discrepancy between what some theory or previous research says should happen in a situation and what actually does happen. Because of its argumentative nature, the thesis is a good attention-getting device and particularly suited to popular accounts of research. In preparing a report of the previously mentioned research for a policy group or funding agency, for example, this more propositional focus might ask whether buying computers for residents in an assisted care facility is a waste of money. The important thing is that some focus be chosen for the study. The focus “states a purpose and then fulfills the promise. Coming up with a focus means deciding what you want to tell your reader. You should be able to state it in a sentence or two” (Bogdan & Biklen, 2011, p. 199). Thus the focus depends on the audience being addressed and the message the researcher wants to convey. Patton (2015) advises researchers to “FOCUS! FOCUS! FOCUS! The agony of omitting on the part of the qualitative researcher or evaluator is matched only by the readers’ or listeners’ agony in WEBC10 06/08/2015 272 20:21:41 Page 272 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION having to read or hear those things that were not omitted but should have been” (p. 623). In writing up qualitative research, Wolcott (2009) is even more specific. Focus, he explains, is being able to complete “the critical sentence, ‘The purpose of this study is . . .’ If that is where you are stuck, writing is not your problem. Your problem is conceptual” (pp. 34–35). Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. OUTLINING THE REPORT Before writing the report, all relevant data must be gone through, culled for extraneous material, and organized in some manner. Ideally you have been doing this all along. At the very minimum you should have devised some system for keeping track of the voluminous data typical of qualitative investigations, your analysis of that data, and your own reflections on the process (see Chapter Eight). With these resources at hand, and with your audience and focus determined, making an outline is the next step. Some writers say they just sit down and write with no outline; perhaps they have only a vague notion of what they want to say. Except for these extraordinary and usually highly creative writers, most everyone else can be immeasurably aided in their writing by even a sketchy outline. The mere act of jotting down some of the major points you want to be sure to cover reveals whether you have anything to say or not. Trying to write something—anything—is a good clue as to whether you have done enough background reading, analyzed your data enough, or thought about it enough. As Dey (1993) points out, “What you cannot explain to others, you do not understand yourself. Producing an account of our analysis is not just something we do for an audience. It is also something we do for ourselves” (p. 237). An easy way to outline is to write down all the topics that might be covered in the report. Next, arrange the topics in some order that will be understood by the intended audience. All research reports need an introduction defining the problem that was studied and, depending on the audience, information about the methodology. The main body of the report contains the findings in the form of topics that have been listed and organized in some way. A conclusion summarizes the study and its findings and offers some commentary on the findings. WEBC10 06/08/2015 20:21:41 Page 273 WRITING UP QUALITATIVE RESEARCH 273 A strategy we have used in conjunction with an outline is to estimate the number of pages that will be devoted to each section. If you are writing up the research as a journal article, for example, you would first decide which journal is your target and find out the average number of pages for a manuscript (this information is available at the journal’s website and is usually printed on the inside page of each issue under the heading “Guidelines for Authors” or “Submission Guidelines”). For a 5,000-word or 20page manuscript, you might allot one page for the introduction, four pages for the first topic in your outline, and so on. Of course this gets adjusted as you actually write, but it does give you a sense of how much attention you want to devote to each section of the report. Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. BEGINNING TO WRITE From the outline, you can begin to write the first draft of the report. The outline breaks the writing task into manageable units, making the task less overwhelming. However, there is no substitute for actually writing—all the preparation in the world does not save you from having to put words on paper or characters on a screen. The act of writing itself causes something to happen, probably because most composition researchers agree that writing is a form of thinking (Becker, 2007; Wolcott, 2009). It is a “recursive social process that enables writers to develop and clarify ideas and improve their communication through successive stages of idea formulation, feedback, and revision” (Lofland, Snow, Anderson, & Lofland, 2006, p. 222). Lofland et al. (2006) go on to say that “the physical activity of writing itself can bring into sharp focus and crystallize what you are trying to say or even produce new insights that layer or elaborate what you have to say about something in ways that you didn’t anticipate” (p. 229, emphasis in original). This is why Dey (1993) considers writing “another tool in our analytic toolkit.” It is partially “through the challenge of explaining ourselves to others [that] we can help to clarify and integrate the concepts and relationships we have identified in our analysis” (p. 237). All writers occasionally experience writer’s block, but if writing is a form of thinking, writer’s block is probably more WEBC10 06/08/2015 Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. 274 20:21:41 Page 274 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION accurately termed a “thinking” block. Wolcott (2009) agrees: “Writing is not only a great way to discover what we are thinking, it is also a way to uncover lacunae in our knowledge thinking. Unfortunately, that means we must be prepared to catch ourselves red-handed whenever we seem not to be thinking at all. The fact should not escape us that when the writing is not going well, our still-nebulous thoughts cannot yet be expressed in words” (p. 19). If writer’s block occurs, several tactics may be tried. First, you might go back to your materials, read through them, and then think more about the story in those materials that you want to tell. Second, writing anything is better than not writing. The material may or may not be used later, but forcing yourself to write something may trigger more thinking and writing. Another strategy is to set deadlines for completing a certain number of pages, and meet these deadlines no matter what you have written. Werner and Schoepfle (1987) suggest shifting to a different medium of communication—writing a letter about the research to a friend, for example, or giving a talk, formal or informal, on the topic. A recording of the lecture or conversation can later be used as a stimulus for writing. There are other subtle barriers to writing. In writing something for others to read, we open ourselves up to scrutiny and criticism. Although in reality it may be our ideas that are being critiqued, we see our ideas as extensions of ourselves. We are afraid we’ll be “found out”—that we don’t know much, that we are incompetent, that maybe we haven’t cited key references, that there’s some fatal flaw in our argument, and so on. Becker (2007) captures some of this angst about writing in his discussion of two fears expressed by his students—one, that “they would not be able to organize their thoughts, that writing would be a big, confusing chaos” and two, that “what they wrote would be ‘wrong’ and that (unspecified) people would laugh at them” (p. 4). Another barrier that Becker discusses is the myth that there is only One Right Way to write something, that there is some “preordained structure” that, if only it were revealed, would make writing easy (p. 43). For all these reasons, every writer should start out writing a draft. The first draft of the report is just that—a first draft. No matter how rough or disjointed some sections may be, it is infinitely easier to work from something than from nothing. The first draft WEBC10 06/08/2015 20:21:41 Page 275 WRITING UP QUALITATIVE RESEARCH 275 can be given to colleagues, friends, or participants for comments. Incorporating their suggestions with your own editing will result in a more refined draft that will be getting closer to the final version. In any case, writing the initial draft is the most laborious and timeconsuming phase. Successive revisions are much less tedious; gradually the report takes shape, and you can feel a sense of accomplishment as the research process comes to a close. In summary, the writing up of a research study can be made easier by breaking the task into smaller steps. With a well-thoughtout strategy for tackling the report, it becomes a manageable undertaking. One such strategy has been described here: 1. First, assemble all the materials related to the study in an organized fashion. 2. Second, determine the intended audience, since different audiences will be interested in different questions and components of the study. 3. Third, select a focus that meets the interest of the intended audience and addresses the original purpose of the study. 4. Fourth, outline the report once the central message has been determined. 5. Finally, begin writing. Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. The outline may be refined, adjusted, or revised entirely to coincide with the thoughts and ideas you have while writing. It is also wise to have others read the first draft before undertaking revisions that lead to the final form of the report. CONTENTS REPORT OF A QUALITATIVE STUDY In the first part of this chapter we presented a strategy for engaging in the writing process. This section addresses some of the questions qualitative investigators face regarding the content of the report. What are the common components of a report? Where should the methodology, references to other research, data displays, and other such elements be placed? How should description be integrated with analysis? How can some balance be maintained between the two? Also discussed are outlets for disseminating WEBC10 06/08/2015 276 20:21:41 Page 276 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION the final report, as well as issues in writing up action research and arts based studies. There is no standard format for reporting qualitative research. The reporting styles have been characteristically diverse over the years and are even more experimental today. The contents of a qualitative study report depend on the audience’s interest as well as the investigator’s purpose in doing the research in the first place. Practitioners or the general public, for example, will not be much interested in methodological information, whereas colleagues and other researchers will find such information crucial for assessing the study’s contribution to the field. The best that we can offer here is a presentation of the basic components of most qualitative reports and the options available for handling different parts of the report. Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. COMPONENTS OF THE Q UALITA TIVE S T U D Y R E P O R T The relative emphasis given each section, as well as the overall form of the report, can vary widely. Nevertheless, all reports discuss the nature of the problem investigated, the way the investigation was conducted, and the findings that resulted. In standard research reports, the problem that gave rise to the study is laid out early in the report. This section usually includes references to the literature, the theoretical framework of the study, a problem statement and the purpose of the study, and research questions that guided the study (see Chapter Four). At the very least, the reader must have some clue as to what this study is all about, even in the more postmodern, experimental writeups. Tierney’s (1993) ethnographic fiction of a university’s nondiscrimination policy, for example, opens by quoting the policy. This is followed by descriptive portraits of six personalities involved in the policy change. Through his quoting the 27word policy statement at the opening of his report, we at least know that the study takes place at a university and involves discrimination in some way. Early in some reports, especially qualitative case studies, is a description of the context of the study or where the inquiry took place. In forms of qualitative research in which interviewing is the major or only source of data, a general description of the sample as WEBC10 06/08/2015 20:21:41 Page 277 WRITING UP QUALITATIVE RESEARCH 277 Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. a whole is given in the methodology section. Some interview-based studies also include short portraits of each participant. The methodology section includes, at a minimum, how the sample was selected, how data were collected and analyzed, and what measures were taken to ensure validity and reliability. It is becoming quite common in reports of qualitative research to include an additional section on the investigator—his or her training, experience, philosophical orientation, and biases. For example, in an article reporting the experiences of 18- to 25-yearolds who had left high school and transitioned into adult basic education programs, the author includes a section titled “Positionality” (Davis, 2014). There she reveals her interest in and experience with adult basic education students, as well as her belief that “many adult students operate within societal and systemic structures of inequality because they are adults without a high school diploma” (p. 242). As another example, in a qualitative case study of his Russian immigrant grandfather, Abramson (1992) includes a discussion of the biases inherent in translating his grandfather’s Hebrew diaries, as well as his own personal biases, which included a tendency to “pathologize” the man. Of this tendency he writes: Though I never knew him, I knew his offspring (my father) well. I did not like my father. He was frequently volatile, impulsive, and out-of-control. He also had a raging temper and was plagued with obsessional fears. . . . He seemed stuck in the role of “master sergeant,” his rank in the army. . . . On the positive side, my father was very bright, was a gifted musician, and could occasionally be charming. . . . Since my father did not “spring from the cosmos,” I have assumed—whether fair or not—that there was a causal relationship between his behavior and that of my grandfather. Thus, as a consequence, I am predisposed to malign Samuel Abramson. (pp. 12–13) In addition to some attention to the problem of the study and information as to how it was carried out, every report offers the findings derived from the analysis of the data. Basically, findings are the outcome of the inquiry—what you, the investigator, learned or came to understand about the phenomenon. For this section of the report there are few guidelines. Richardson (2000) reviews a range of creative possibilities for presentation of a study’s findings: WEBC10 06/08/2015 278 20:21:41 Page 278 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. Margery Wolf, in A Thrice-Told Tale (1992), takes the same event and tells it as fictional story, field notes, and a social scientific paper. John Steward, in Drinkers, Drummers and Decent Folk (1989), writes poetry, fiction, ethnographic accounts, and field notes about Village Trinidad. Valerie Walkerdin’s Schoolgirl Fictions (1990) develops/displays the theme that “masculinity and femininity are fictions which take on the status of fact” (p. xiii) by incorporating into the book journal entries, poems, essays, photographs of herself, drawings, cartoons, and annotated transcripts. Ruth Linden’s Making Stories, Making Selves: Feminist Reflections on the Holocaust (1992) intertwines autobiography, academic writing, and survivors’ stories. (p. 935) Richardson supports the “blurring of the humanities and the social sciences” in representing one’s findings “not because it is ‘trendy’ but rather because the blurring coheres more truly with the life sense and learning style of so many” (in Richardson & St. Pierre, 2005, pp. 964–965). Further, writing from this multilens perspective “becomes more diverse and author centered, less boring, and humbler” (p. 965). She proposes four criteria for evaluating such writing—substantive contribution, aesthetic merit, reflexivity, and impact. With regard to the first criterion, we can ask, does it make a substantive contribution “to our understanding of social life?” Second, “is the text artistically shaped, satisfying, complex, and not boring?” Has reflexivity—that is, the author’s self-awareness—been addressed? And what is the impact of this piece? “Does this piece affect me emotionally or intellectually?” (p. 964, emphasis in original). Although Richardson is proposing some exciting alternatives that experienced researchers might experiment with, the most common way findings are presented in a qualitative report is to organize them according to the categories, themes, or theory derived from the data analysis (see Chapter Eight). Typically, a “findings” section begins with a brief overview of the findings, followed by presentation of each separate finding supported by quotes from interviews or field notes or references to documentary evidence. Exhibit 10.1 is an abbreviated example taken from a study of how consumers with low literacy skills negotiate the marketplace (Ozanne, Adkins, & Sandlin, 2005). Four groups of participants were identified from interviews with 22 learners WEBC10 06/08/2015 20:21:42 Page 279 WRITING UP QUALITATIVE RESEARCH 279 possessing a range of literacy skills—alienated consumers, conflicted identity managers, identity exchanging and enhancing consumers, and savvy consumers. An overview of these four findings is presented at the beginning of the “Findings” section. This overview functions like a map, so the reader can follow the presentation. The first finding—“Alienated Consumers”—is introduced, explained, and supported by data from interviews with participants (see Exhibit 10.1). EXHIBIT 10.1. FINDINGS PRESENTATION. Alienated Consumers These participants accepted the stigma of low literacy and felt shame . . . They suggested their low literacy skills socially discredited them, which was experienced as embarrassment and shame. This shame ranged in intensity from just “feeling bad” to panic and even “breaking out in tears every time I told someone.” Many of the alienated consumers shared stories of their experiences of prejudicial treatment, such as being called names like “stupid,” “slow,” or “lazy.” Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. You know a lot of people on the other side. When you are in a group and you’re talking, they’ll look at you and think, “What do you know?” especially these people with an education . . . And they really make you feel beneath them. (Sarah) Market interactions were filled with uncertainty and the constant fear that their limited literacy skills would be exposed. These participants fit traditional deficit stereotypes of the adult learner as a failed decision maker who lacks power in his or her social encounters. One participant explained that when he was renewing a driver’s license, I went in and was told to fill out the paper. I said, “I can’t.” He wouldn’t listen. He said, “Of course you can. Go over to that table, read it, and fill it out.” Felt as if every eye in the room was on me. I looked at it and froze. I could read name, address, and phone, but I was so nervous and embarrassed, I couldn’t even do that. Left and never went back. (Sarah) (continued ) WEBC10 06/08/2015 280 20:21:42 Page 280 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION (Continued ) Sometimes this negative treatment is unambiguous. Some sales clerks cheated the adults. But often, social interactions are vaguely menacing, and the adult learners are uncertain whether their limited literacy was actually revealed. I know once at the Post Office . . . And I know it was me he was talking about. I wasn’t sure of really what I heard all of it, but I know they was saying something about I couldn’t read very well. (Olive) Source: Ozanne, Adkins, and Sandlin (2005, p. 256). Reprinted with permission. Knowing how much data to include in support of a category or theme is a judgment call. You need enough to be convincing, but not so much that the reader becomes buried. The findings are also discussed, either along with their presentation or in a separate section, often titled “Discussion,” in which you tell the reader what you make of the findings. Were there any surprises? How do they compare with what is already known? What conclusions do you draw overall? What unique contribution does your study make to the knowledge base in this area? Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. Placement of Component Parts Where should the methodology section, the references to previous research and literature, and the visual displays be placed? Again, the answers depend on the interest of the target audience. For the general public, practitioners, and funding agencies, the methodology section is likely to be placed in an appendix to the report. Referring to an ethnographic study, Werner and Schoepfle (1987) write, “The average reader is not interested in how the ethnography was obtained as long as he or she retains a feeling for the quality, validity, and reliability of the monograph. On the other hand, for fellow ethnographers a methodological section may be of great importance. Under no circumstances should it be left out, but its placement should be dictated by the anticipated readership” (p. 282). WEBC10 06/08/2015 20:21:42 Page 281 WRITING UP QUALITATIVE RESEARCH 281 Qualitative studies in journals or as chapters in a book present a discussion of methodology early in the write-up—often as part of the introduction of the problem or immediately following it. Hyde (2006) tells us how she conducted her multisite case study of the organizational dynamics of mental health teams as follows: The research took place within one mental health trust that covered a city and its densely populated suburbs. A case-study design was used whereby each mental health team was treated as a separate case. Following negotiations for access, each case study began with observations of daytime shifts or whole working days, depending on the opening hours of the unit. I recorded these observations in fieldwork diaries. These included records of my own emotional reactions to the environment and initial interpretations for later exploration alongside the usual records of observed events, interactions and details. Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. In-depth interviews were conducted with mental health service managers and commissioners and with staff, patients and carers. Opportunistic conversations were used throughout the study to explore other staff experiences linked to work processes. These conversations took place any time a participant was free and willing to talk for a short period. The information gleaned from these was compared with the findings from observations and with secondary data sources such as service information leaflets. The purpose of these comparisons was to identify differences between espoused values and daily practice that could indicate defensive processes. (pp. 222–223) Where should the references to literature that is relevant to the problem being studied be placed? In the write-up of most qualitative research, a review of previous research and writing is part of the introduction and development of the problem. The literature that helped shape the focus of the study will also be referred to in discussing your findings. It’s also possible that your framework for analyzing your data has been derived from the literature. For example, if you were to discover, in your inductive analysis of the process of adopting an innovation, that the process mirrors an established framework in the literature, there’s no reason why you cannot use that framework. As Patton (2015) notes, “the published WEBC10 06/08/2015 Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. 282 20:21:42 Page 282 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION literature on the topic being studied focuses the contribution of a particular study. Scholarship involves an ongoing dialogue with colleagues about particular questions of interest within the scholarly community. The analytical focus, therefore, derives in part from what one has learned that will make a contribution to the literature in a field of inquiry. That literature will likely have contributed to the initial design of the study (implicitly or explicitly), so it is appropriate to revisit that literature to help focus the analysis” (p. 526). Thus if a qualitative study is being undertaken as a critique of some theory, principle, or accepted piece of folk wisdom, the investigator should establish that fact with appropriate reference to the literature early in the report. However, if someone else’s categorical scheme is being used to interpret the data collected (rather than evolving one from the data), such references should be made just prior to use of the material. Finally, discussion of the study’s findings usually incorporates references to other research in pointing out where the study’s findings support or deviate from previous work. Thus references to relevant literature can be placed early in the report when describing the problem, in a section reviewing previous work, and in the section devoted to presentation and interpretation of the study’s results. Keep in mind the intended audience and the desired length of the report when making this decision. What about charts, tables, and figures? Although most reports of qualitative research use words in a narrative text, an occasional chart, table, or figure will enable readers to grasp major findings or ideas central to the study. Displaying qualitative data in the form of a chart, matrix, table, or figure enables readers to more quickly grasp complexities in the analysis that would take an enormous amount of narrative writing to convey. Displays provide something of a shorthand version of the findings. They should be used judiciously, however. There are three common displays in qualitative reports. Most common is a table listing participants and key bits of information about them, such as can be found in Kim’s (2014) study of the postretirement career transition process of Korean middle-aged adults. A table titled “Participant Profiles” lists the pseudonym for each participant, gender, age, educational attainment, primary WEBC10 06/08/2015 20:21:42 Page 283 WRITING UP QUALITATIVE RESEARCH 283 career, current career, and years in current career. A study that is primarily based on observations might first include an “Observation Grid,” as Enomoto and Bair (1999) did in their study of the role of school in the assimilation of Arab immigrant children. A second type of display is a narrative display of findings; that is, a listing of categories and properties, sometimes accompanied by a sample of evidence. A third type of display is a model in the form of a figure that shows the interrelationships and interconnectedness of the findings. For example, Figure 10.1 illustrates the process of self-directed learning of older, rural adults (Roberson & Merriam, 2005). As depicted in the diagram, the process is initiated by either FIGURE 10.1. THE PROCESS OF SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING. External Incentive ........... Internal Incentive Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. Resolution Adjustment in Learning Interest Interest Access Resources Systematic Attention Source: Roberson and Merriam (2005, p. 275). Reprinted with permission. WEBC10 06/08/2015 284 20:21:42 Page 284 QUALITATIVE RESEARCH: A GUIDE TO DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION an external or an internal incentive. If the person has an interest in the topic or activity, he or she then accesses resources relevant to the learning activity. For the process to continue, deliberate and systematic attention is devoted to the project. Adjustments are made through trial and error, and eventually most projects come to a close (resolution). An important dimension of the process is an event or encounter that acts as a catalyst to speed up the process or motivate them to learn on a deeper level. For example, Charlie’s wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and this became a personal catalyst for his learning; a chance encounter at a town meeting led Hattie to resume her efforts to get sidewalks built on her side of town. In using visual displays in a study report, the researcher should  Keep the display simple, including only the information that is necessary in understanding the presentation.  Keep the number of displays to a minimum; using just a few Copyright © ${Date}. ${Publisher}. All rights reserved. figures to represent important ideas will draw attention to those ideas.  Mention the display in the text, placing the display as close to its discussion as possible.  “Walk” the reader through the display, illustrating how to read or interpret the display. Displays should be an integrated part of the study narra...
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Explanation & Answer



Disaster Management Field Research and Observation
Student’s Name
Professor’s Name


Part 1

Semi-structured observer guideline
Agenda one
(verbal and



Observe parents and children’s reaction when mentioning some of the
disasters they have experienced or heard off.


Identify their facial reaction, tone as they speak, and body language


What attitude do they portray concerning the subject

Note: This should help you determine whether they feel terrified, clueless
about what they are being asked or confident that they have an idea.

Agenda two


Check whether there is a police post, community services, or any
humanitarian agency within the neighborhoods.

Note: This will help in identifying the people or agencies that families can
quickly go to seek help.


Agenda three



Observe the financial capabilities of the families. Do they look welloff or do they have financial challenges?

Note: This would be determined by observing comfort in the homes, the
suburbs or home setting

Check how spacious the room or compound is. Can the family
members move freely when a disaster strikes?


Observe items that are likely to hinder the free flow ...

I was struggling with this subject, and this helped me a ton!


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