Lesson Idea: Understanding Observation Methods (HL – Qualitative)

Travis DixonQualitative Research Methods

This activity will help you learn the different types of observation methods used in qualitative psychology. (pexels.com)

What you need to know…

In order to complete this activity you need know about the different observation methods. You can read more about those observations here.

It is important for Paper 3 answers that you can apply your knowledge to examples of research. This is a difficult critical thinking skill and is what separates good answers from excellent ones.

What you need to do…

Work with a partner and choose which observation method you would use each of the studies below and be able to give at least one reason why you would use that method (or why a different method would be unsuitable.

For example, if a study had the aim of seeing…

(x) …how children and parents interact during a meal at a restaurant…

I might recommend the use of a covert, non-participant observation because I couldn’t realistically join their family group and I would want to remain hidden so they didn’t change their behaviour (we will discuss the ethics of this later in the unit).

people drinking liquor and talking on dining table close up photo

If you wanted to conduct an observation of people at a restaurant, what method would you use? (Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com).

The aim of each study is to see how…

(a) …immigrant children from Syria interact with other children at school.

(b) …professional athletes get ready for big games.

(c) …artists from different fields (e.g. music, film, painting, writing,) create their work.

(d) …recovering drug addicts behave when they are in environments with available drugs.

(e) …new inmates are treated in a prison by other prisoners.  

  • Work with a partner to choose a suitable method to use for each of these examples.

Fast Finishers Extension

  • What is one limitation of using each of these methods in the above contexts.