Designing an Observation/Content Analysis

This is one of three planning sheets used to plan studies. In the research methods section of the unit four exam, it is very common that they ask you to plan your own study for a given topic. Planning sheets like this will helpful in showing you what things you should include for full marks.

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Designing an observation or content anaylysis
Preliminary decisions
Formulate research The research question is likely to be given to you in the exam question.
questions / aims Identify the target population?
If observation being used as a way of measuring the IV or DV you will
need a hypothesis.
Kinds of observation Natualisitic or controlled?
Direct or indirect (content analysis)?
Structured or semi/un-structured?
Overt or covert?
Participant observation?
Materials Behaviour checklist of target behaviours?
Qualitative analysis?
Design data collection sheet?
Pilot study What aspects will need checking with a pilot study?
Secondary decisions
Selection of Identify a suitable method?
participants/observation Time sampling or event sampling?
s Real time recording of observations or audio/video recording made?
Size and composition in relation to target population?
Time of day?
Ethical issues Any ethical problems?
How can these ethical problems be dealt with?
Problems with validity Will the experiment / study measure what it intends to?
How can you deal with any issues of validity? (Situational variables,
participant variables, internal and external validity.)
Problems with reliability Reliability of observation checked by inter-rater testing.
How can reliability be improved?
Procedures - What you
will actually do.
Standardised procedures Detailed enough to be replicated?
What will participants be told?
How will you ensure informed consent?
What materials will be provided, how long will they have?
How will they be debriefed?
Pilot study Which aspects will need checking using a pilot study?
Treatment of results
Consider statistics to use Qualitative or quantitative data?

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Which inferential test is right for the type of data and the design of the
experiment or study?
Can you justify your choice?
Level of significance?…read more


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