What are the most important things to remember when observing your students?
There are a lot of important things to remember when observing your students. The first is to determine what kind of observer you are. You can either be a complete participant, a participant as observer, an observer as participant, or a complete observer. A complete participant is a member of the group being studied. A participant as observer, is where the researcher is present, involved in, and recording the activities, while maintaining an active participant role. An observer as participant’s primary role is to gather information, while participating comes second. A complete observer is someone who is hidden from those being researched.
Another important thing to remember when observing your students is how to record your data. Your field notes should be descriptive. You want to describe your respondents, the setting, what activities are going on in the classroom, and the behaviors of the participants. You also want to remember to keep your record system as simple as possible. For example, abbreviate behaviors you’ll use quite often like, RH- raising hand, OS-out of seat, OT- off task. You only want to record what you see, and what actually happens in the classroom. You don’t want to record your analyses of what you think happened, or record any assumptions.
Merriam, S., & Merriam, S. (2009). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.