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Central Georgia Technical College Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Discussion
Ch. 11 Observing People
Part 1: Read Ch. 11 Methods of Observing People in “Primer of Public Relations Research” by
Shannon A. Bowen (edited by Don. W. Stacks).
Part 2: Write a recap of the chapter. Your recap should be single spaced and between two full
pages in length. Please use APA style for any citations and include a list of references (your
reference list does not count toward your page total). APA citations look like this: Cultivation
theory examines how prolonged media use affects a mass audience (Gerbner, 1973). Or: Gerbner
(1973) found that TV has a profound effect on high-usage viewers. You would then list your
Gerbner source in your list of references alphabetically (there are websites such as BibMe and
Citation Machine that arranges your reference list automatically in APA format). Your recap
should be organized into two sections:
? Explanation – Summarize the chapter. Start from the beginning and work through to
the end. Consider the following questions: What are the three qualitative methods
described in the chapter? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each method? Why
can’t the results generated by the three methods be generalized to the population at
large? These are just suggested questions and you may highlight other aspects of the
reading. Feel free to use subheads to organize your writing.
? Application – Turn the corner and apply the chapter to public relations campaigns.
When would you use the three methods? When would you avoid the three methods?
What data would you hope to collect when using the three methods? How would you
use the data from the three methods? How would you apply the methods to a public
relations campaign? What are the limitations you would have to disclose when reporting
the data? Again, these are suggested questions and you may draw any conclusions. Feel
free to use subheads to organize your writing.
METHODS OF OBSERVING PEOPLE Chapter 11 Structured versus Unstructured ◦ Structured ◦ Researchers prespecify items to examine ◦ Works best when researchers have a clear idea of what they want to research ◦ Unstructured ◦ Nothing to guide the researcher ◦ Seeking to gain an insider understanding ◦ Research may begin as unstructured and transition to structured once more is revealed ◦ Large amount of freedom for the researcher (qualitative method) Recording Observational Data ◦ Description ◦ Account of what happens ◦ Analysis ◦ Subjective reflection of what it means ◦ Common information to record: ◦ Background information – time, date, venue, purpose, participants, etc. ◦ Detailed notes – key structural features, problems, things unintelligible to the researcher, unexpected occurrences, etc. ◦ Can often resemble a stream of consciousness Analyzing Observational Data ◦ Observational work is data analysis (happening in real-time) ◦ It is isn’t a separate activity, but rather a basic feature of it ◦ Thinking through what is being observed: ◦ Why it is interesting? ◦ How it is to be categorized ◦ What its relevance is to the problems at hand? ◦ How it might be thought through in relation to other data ◦ Which aspects of it are unintelligible or confusing? ◦ How it contrasts with or supports existing ideas / propositions / data / assumptions OBSERVATION Observation ◦ Highly qualitative ◦ In-depth interviews ◦ Reaction from an individual ◦ Tightly controlled ◦ Focus groups ◦ Reaction from a group ◦ Moderate level of control ◦ Participant observation ◦ Analysis of the environment ◦ No control PR Research: Best Practices ◦ Triangulation ◦ Using both quantitative and qualitative data to understand a phenomenon ◦ Example of triangulation: ◦ 42% of likely voters distrust the candidate, but that number increases to 54% when segmented to female likely voters between the ages of 45 to 64. ◦ “I don’t like the way she dodges questions from reporters. She seems shifty.” ◦ What do you mean by ‘shifty’? ◦ “She smirks and looks the other way, then gives a curt answer.” ◦ Statistics enlightened by deep insight / deep insight guiding statistical investigation In-Depth Interviews Subjects’ knowledge and participation will shed significant light by providing rich detail CLICK ME! Qualitative Interviews ◦ Systematic observation ◦ Researcher uses a discussion guide or interview schedule to stay on task ◦ Most controlled method of observation ◦ Long interview ◦ Takes place over days, weeks, and sometimes months ◦ Wide range of topics ◦ Semi structured list of topics ◦ Focus: complex issues, life histories, important developments, etc. ◦ In-depth interview ◦ Quicker and more efficient ◦ Used in practical applications of public relations research STRUCTURED INTERVIEWS THINK: RENTING FULLY FURNISHED Structured Interviews ◦ Standardized wording of all questions ◦ Order of the questions is the same in all interviews ◦ No room for improvisation from researcher ◦ Infrequent open-ended question ◦ Can be used for surveys and polls ◦ Potential quantifiable data Structured Interview Issues ◦ Closed structure doesn’t allow for new info to emerge easily ◦ Leave a section at the end for open-ended questions ◦ Highly structured questions disrupt the natural flow of conversation ◦ Topics are only discussed when the pre-plan says so ◦ Difficult for interviewer to manage SEMI-STRUCTURED INTERVIEWS THINK: BUYING A FIXER-UPPER Semi-Structured Interviews ◦ General list of questions the researcher needs answered ◦ Questions are open-ended ◦ Occasional close-ended question ◦ Substantial freedom for researcher ◦ Order of the questions is flexible ◦ Researcher can paraphrase wording ◦ Probes emerge from what the participant says ◦ Some probes: “Can you tell me more about that?” Semi-Structured Interviews ◦ Skilled researchers: ◦ Remember the questions to ask ◦ Ask questions at appropriate times ◦ Bring answers to interests without disrupting conversation ◦ Sense when a topic of enquiry has been exhausted ◦ Manage the duration of the interview ◦ Evaluate the analytic relevance as it is being produced UNSTRUCTURED INTERVIEWS THINK: BUYING A VACANT LOT Unstructured Interviews ◦ Helpful to reveal what might be interesting ◦ Pre-pilot before the pilot study ◦ Useful to learn how things work ◦ Helps to uncover data that can lead to future questions ◦ Series of talking points ◦ Need to be covered at some point ◦ Interviewer is free to create questions during interview Unstructured Interviews ◦ Mischaracterization ◦ All researchers have some idea what they will study ◦ Asking questions with little to no pre-planning ◦ Resembles actual conversation ◦ Topics can go in any direction ◦ Probe areas that need further explanation ◦ Sideline issues that are irrelevant ◦ Interaction leads to unfolding of topics Interview Structures in Practice ◦ Common that a project uses all three structures ◦ Pre-defined questions ◦ Loose topical questions ◦ Space for “circuitous” answers Conducting the Interview ◦ Location ◦ Conduct the interview at a place where the subject feels comfortable ◦ Interview schedule (list of questions that guide the interview) ◦ Funnel question (moves the interview along based on the response) ◦ Ex. “Did you attend a football game last semester?” ◦ Topical question (what you’re interested in) ◦ Ex. “What was the atmosphere like at the game?” ◦ Probe questions (designed to elicit deeper meaning) ◦ Ex. “Really? Why do you think it was like that?” Qualitative Interviewer as Karate Master ◦ Receive the blow ◦ Subject’s answer ◦ Don’t block responses ◦ Use the energy to open new opportunities ◦ Redirect the energy ◦ Steer the conversation ◦ Continue until subject is exhausted ◦ No more useful information Analyzing the Interview ◦ Data analysis ◦ Record the interview (easier to hold a conversation) ◦ Must obtain permission ◦ Qualitative ◦ What was said and HOW it was said ◦ Verbatims: actual quotes used to illustrate a point ◦ Quantitative ◦ Content analysis to simplify data into numbers ◦ Themes should emerge when enough data is collected “ …each time you repeat the basic process of gathering information, analyzing it, winnowing it, and testing it, you come closer to a clear and convincing model of the phenomenon you are studying… (RUBIN & RUBIN, 1995, P. 46-47) Why Qualitative Interviews? ” Advantages and Disadvantages ◦ Advantages ◦ Researcher understands the problem and also the person in great detail ◦ Researcher has control to ask questions in manner and order that makes sense ◦ Subject has time to ponder questions and respond freely ◦ Disadvantages ◦ Heavy time commitment ◦ Large amount of research needed to ask good questions ◦ Cannot generalize results ◦ Relying on memory / subjectivity / agenda of subject Focus Groups Interaction between subjects CLICK ME! Focus Groups ◦ Focus group ◦ Controlled group discussion in which the moderator skillfully asks questions to the group ◦ Moderator then probes for better understanding and agreement among group members ◦ Focus groups should have between five and 12 subjects ◦ Multiple focus groups should be conducted in a single public relations campaign ◦ Six is the minimum (between eight to 12 is common) ◦ Strive for diversity in group members ◦ Issues may emerge that call for additional focus groups comprised of one type of group member Advantages and Disadvantages ◦ Advantages ◦ Quick and inexpensive way to elicit diverse responses ◦ Unplanned responses can easily emerge ◦ Authentic snapshot of attitudes, beliefs, and opinions on a topic ◦ Moderate amount of control by researchers ◦ Disadvantages ◦ Overreliance on moderator to control the group (quiet members / overly talkative members) ◦ Large amount of time needed ◦ Group members volunteer (volunteers aren’t “normal” when compared to the average person) ◦ Group think – disagreement is hard (groups tend to adopt a common viewpoint over time) ◦ Results cannot be generalized Conducting the Focus Group ◦ Costs ◦ Group members are usually given something to compensate them for their time ◦ Types ◦ Traditional – convenience sample of volunteers ◦ Known – specific people chosen to represent desired traits ◦ Staffing ◦ Moderator – guides the focus group by administering questions designed to generate group DISCUSSION ◦ Assistants – recording answers and observations (handing out the pizza) Conducting the Focus Group ◦ Discussion guide ◦ Introductory statement – explain the purpose and what we’ll do with the data ◦ Roughly 10 questions ◦ Introductory questions – these are icebreaker questions ◦ Ex. “How many of you have been to a basketball game?” ◦ Key questions – this is the point of the focus group ◦ Ex. “What keeps you from attending athletic events?” ◦ Probe questions – drills a little deeper than key questions ◦ Ex. “So being a commuter is a factor. How far is too far to want to drive back to campus to watch a game?” ◦ Transition questions – break and pivot away from key questions ◦ Ex. “Are there any other reasons for not wanting to attend games?” Conducting the Focus Group ◦ Participant selection ◦ Random selection is rare ◦ Most focus groups are comprised of volunteers ◦ For every one participant needed, contact 10 people ◦ Two motivations: ◦ Interest in the topic ◦ What group members will receive ◦ Groups should be between five and 12 people (never more than 15) Conducting the Focus Group ◦ Room preparation ◦ Comfortable and quiet ◦ Group members should be able to see each other ◦ Name tags ◦ Conducting the focus group ◦ Moderator should introduce the situation (use a script) ◦ Group members should introduce themselves ◦ Ice-breaker then move to key questions, etc. ◦ Manage overly talkative group members / focus questions on overly quiet group members ◦ Data analysis ◦ Themes should emerge within the responses from group members THE POINT OF FOCUS GROUPS? GENERATE INTERACTION Participant Observation Researcher is immersed in the environment under scrutiny CLICK ME! Participant Observation ◦ Participant observation ◦ Researcher is inserted into the research setting to systematically observe events ◦ Can range from a pure observer to actual participant ◦ Interviews are frequently conducted to elicit greater understanding ◦ Originated in anthropology ◦ Produces powerful insights ◦ Data isn’t always timely ◦ Ethical considerations ◦ Seldom used in public relations research Advantages and Disadvantages ◦ Advantages ◦ People behaving in a natural setting ◦ Rules, roles, and routines become apparent ◦ Proactive public relations ◦ Good way to observe situations before a problem can occur ◦ Disadvantages ◦ Large amount of time required ◦ Ethical considerations ◦ Complete lack of control ◦ Cannot generalize Conducting Participant Observation ◦ Understand expected rules, roles, and routines ◦ Participate in the activities of those you are observing ◦ “Walking the site” ◦ Complete observer – “fly on the wall” ◦ Active participant – interact with subjects / perform tasks / full immersion ◦ Compare observations to what was expected Conducting Participant Observation ◦ Understanding the environment ◦ Rules – written and unwritten behaviors that are expected ◦ Set forth the norms of conduct ◦ Roles – formal or informal ◦ Formal – rank and duty (assigned) ◦ Informal – taken on ◦ Routines – typical things that are done ◦ Ordinary occurrences (normalcy) Conducting Participant Observation ◦ Participating and observing ◦ Look for typical and atypical behaviors ◦ Two sets of notes ◦ Mental – obvious notetaking may influence people you talk to ◦ Written – as soon as you can, write down observations and notes from interviews ◦ Some environments are more sensitive than others ◦ Data analysis ◦ What did you see? ◦ Expected versus unexpected ◦ Themes should emerge ◦ Results cannot be generalized (best practices for organization under scrutiny) PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION Field research / Naturalistic inquiry / Naturalism / Field studies Participant Observation as a Dance ◦ “First there is the warm-up stage, or design decisions made at the beginning of the study; second is the total workout stage, during which design decisions are made throughout the study; and third is the cool-down stage, when design decisions are made at the end of the study.” –Valerie Janesick ◦ Warm-Up Period ◦ Floor Exercise Period ◦ Cool-Down Period Warm-Up Period ◦ Questions to guide the study ◦ Much more general than other methods (evolve as the study progresses) ◦ Literature review ◦ The more informed you are, the more astute your observations are likely to be in the field ◦ Self-reflection ◦ Field notes – what the researcher actually observes ◦ Reflexive journal – record of the researcher’s thoughts and feelings during the process (biases revealed too) ◦ Site selection ◦ Use whatever site is available Warm-Up Period ◦ Roles of the researcher ◦ Complete-participant – people see you only as a participant, not as a researcher ◦ Participant-observer – people know you as a researcher; researcher’s involvement with group is important ◦ Observer-participant – observation is primary, and participation is superficial ◦ Complete observer – observes without becoming a part of it in any way ◦ Informed consent ◦ Gatekeepers – regardless of research design, someone grants you access ◦ Sustaining access ◦ Sponsor – someone who takes interest in your project (grants access to more informants) ◦ Timeline (how long is the research?) Floor Exercise Period ◦ Sampling ◦ Most likely purposive (convenience) ◦ Constructing field notes ◦ Experiences are fleeting but field notes freeze the moment for analysis ◦ Don’t trust your memory more than you have to ◦ Should jotting be done openly? ◦ Constructing visual records (visual imagery, photos, etc.) ◦ Ethics Floor Exercise Period ◦ Triangulation ◦ Use of multiple sources of data ◦ Use of multiple methods of research ◦ Use of multiple researchers ◦ Use of multiple theoretical perspectives ◦ Elasticity ◦ Qualitative isn’t as regimented as quantitative research ◦ Participant observation is most flexible Cool-Down Period ◦ How long should participant observation last? ◦ Saturation ◦ The point at which the data collected is repetitive ◦ Variation is accounted for and understood ◦ Potential “encore” appearance to fill gaps in the data Strengths and Weaknesses ◦ Strengths ◦ Effective for studying subtle nuances of attitudes and behaviors ◦ Elicits a depth of understanding ◦ Flexibility for the researcher ◦ Really only need paper and a pencil ◦ Weaknesses ◦ Cannot generalize results to a larger population ◦ Reader must trust integrity of the researcher ◦ Researcher makes numerous subjective decisions (what to jot down / how to feel / what to present in research findings)