Method of research in social sciences

Assignment 1: Participant Observation

People sitting around a table holding a business meeting.Participant observation is a method of research in the social sciences. An investigator studies the life of a group by sharing in its activities. That is, the investigator participates within the area they are observing and from which the data will be gathered. (DeWalt & DeWalt, 2010). Participant observation is foundational to the field of qualitative research known as ethnography. This process is the opposite of observing a phenomenon from the outside, making sure you do not influence or interact with the people or system you are studying. A participant observer is just that: an observer who is also a participant. You will be a participant observer in this week. Everyone you meet has a story. Every place you go tells a tale. Are you listening?

In preparation for your participant observation, complete this week’s assigned readings and download and read the Week 5 Assignment Handout: Participant Observation Guidelines, which will guide your efforts for this assignment.

In addition, review the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ article “Statistical Language—Quantitative and Qualitative Data,” a Learning Resource you read in Week 4. Select a public place in which to conduct your participant observations, such as a local coffee shop, diner/restaurant, youth sports field, grocery store, gas station, group public transportation (bus, train, or subway), or amusement park. Consider the types of qualitative and quantitative data you are likely to gather in this location.

Conduct your participant observation by spending at least 45 minutes in the public place you selected.

Do three things with your observations:

  1. Create categories of what you find interesting and salient to observe and record.
  2. Collect numerical data (e.g., how many individuals drink coffee instead of another drink, how many individuals enter the coffee shop alone versus how many enter with another person).
  3. Collect data that does not strictly fit within numerical categories (e.g., ambiance, customer reactions, cordial staff interactions)
By Day 7

Submit a minimum 5- to 6-slide presentation that includes:

  • A summary and comparison of the quantitative and qualitative results of your participant observations
  • Your interpretations of the data you collected (e.g., a trend or reoccurring event)
  • At least one visual tool that presents data (see Hyerle’s Visual Tools for Transforming Information Into Knowledge for possibilities)
  • An evaluation of the benefits of both quantitative and qualitative data collection during participant observations

Note: The optional resource section provides links to the MS PowerPoint and Prezi websites. You may visit these sites to learn more about these two popular slideshow software programs.

Submission and Grading Information

To submit your completed Assignment for review and grading, do the following:

  • Please save your Assignment using the naming convention “WK5Assgn1+last name+first initial.(extension)” as the name.
  • Click the Week 5 Assignment 1 Rubric to review the Grading Criteria for the Assignment.
  • Click the Week 5 Assignment 1 link. You will also be able to “View Rubric” for grading criteria from this area.
  • Next, from the Attach File area, click on the Browse My Computer button. Find the document you saved as “WK5Assgn1+last name+first initial.(extension)” and click Open.
  • If applicable: From the Plagiarism Tools area, click the checkbox for I agree to submit my paper(s) to the Global Reference Database.
  • Click on the Submit button to complete your submission.

Assignment 2: Required Summary Blog Post

To prepare for this blog post:

In one paragraph, summarize how the resources in Week 5 extend your understanding of problem solving.

By Day 5

Post this paragraph in your blog.

By Day 7

Read your colleagues’ blogs and consider what resonates with you. Contribute to at least one colleague’s blog.

Submission and Grading Information
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