Posted: February 25th, 2022
This assignment involves two parts that come together in one paper. The first part involves observations pertaining to aspects of social development and the second part involves scientific studies published in professional journals. If you have trouble with any part of the assignment, please contact me as soon as possible so that I can help. We can do some things through email but a meeting tends to work best. Overview Naturalistic observation is a very common research methodology used to study social development. It also is an approach that we often use in a less formal way in everyday contexts to gather information about children/adolescents. One of the goals of this assignment is to provide you with experience using this methodology in a semi-formal manner. Another goal is to provide you with experience reading, evaluating, and applying empirical research published in a professional journal. You will conduct observations in a location of your choosing that involves children, adolescents, parents, teachers, families, etc., conduct a literature search for two published empirical articles that are related to your observation in some way, and write an APA formatted paper about the topic of your observations in which you use the two published empirical articles to evaluate what you observed. Selecting an Observation Site You can conduct your observations in any setting that you have easy access to and that your presence will not interfere with ongoing activities. Possibilities for sites include, but are not limited to, mall, zoo, park, grocery store, church, school classroom, home, community programs, restaurant, playground, airport, or light rail. Identifying the Focus of your Observations You need to decide on a specific focus of your observation beforehand so that you know what to focus your attention on while observing; thus, don’t conduct observations then identify a topic based on what you observed, rather identify a specific focus then conduct the observations. The focus of your observation can involve children, parents, teachers, other adults, or a combination, as long as it has a social developmental aspect to it and fits within the developmental periods addressed in this class. Possibilities for observations include, but are not limited to, expression of various emotions, sharing, conflict, crying, play, aspects of temperament, use of technology, seeking help from the teacher, compliance, teasing, gender related behavior/characteristics, aggression, separation from/reconciliation with parent, activity/toy preferences. A clear and very specific focus for your observations will provide the structure for your observation as well as for the observation summary in your paper. As you develop your focus, consider what particular information (e.g., facial expressions, content of verbal statements, specific behaviors) that you will pay attention to as you gather your ‘data’. A well thought out focus will make the later tasks more manageable. If you have trouble specifying your focus, please contact me and we’ll work this out prior to your observation. Conducting your Observations Observe for at least two hours (observations do not need to be conducted all at the same time or in the same setting). As you observe, remember how you specified your focus beforehand so that your observation has structure and meaning. You should take extensive notes as you observe so that you can include specific examples in your paper. However, for ethical reasons, it is very important that you do not identify anyone by name. Be as unobtrusive as possible such that your presence as an observer will be virtually unnoticed by those in the setting; you should try to avoid interacting with anyone in the setting during your observation. The more thoroughly you develop your focus, the more structure your observation will have, making it easier to record what you observe. Conclusion from Observations Based on your observations, make conclusions in terms of your original focus that reflect an in depth consideration of what you observed. Be careful not to make conclusions beyond what you observed (e.g., if your focus didn’t pertain to aggression then your conclusion should not be about aggression). Research Articles After you have made your conclusions, find 2 published scientific journal articles pertaining to the empirical study of your observation topic. So that articles reflect relatively current understanding of the area, articles must have a publication date within the past 15 years. You must use empirical journal articles; sources such as books, textbooks, theses, dissertations, abstracts, review articles, theoretical articles, book chapters, websites, magazines, or newspapers are not appropriate sources. The articles must be a presentation of a specific study; look for a Method section that describes participants and measures/variables as well as a Results section with statistical analyses. The articles you select need to be related to your topic in some way so that they provide insight into your observation and subsequent conclusions. The articles can be consistent or inconsistent with your conclusions. You may be able to find articles that are clearly related to your topic (e.g., your observation was on teacher warmth and student attention and you use research on the student-teacher relationship and academic success) or you can use research on a different topic that can provide some insight (e.g., your observation was on similarities within peer groups and you use a research study on the role of peers in forming ethnic identity). Whatever articles you choose, you must be able to tie the research studies to your observation conclusions in some way to interpret or expand the understanding of your observation. Writing the Paper Introductory paragraph(s) with scientific perspective: The first paragraph(s) of the paper should set up your topic from a scientific perspective . Define terms, explain theoretical concepts, summarize research findings, and/or explain developmental issues and use appropriate sources to support. You can use our class materials (textbook, Powerpt slides) in this part of the paper but they must be properly cited in text and included in References; you can also use a scientific source that you found as you searched for the two required articles. Sources such as textbooks from other classes, dissertations, theses, abstracts, websites, magazines, newspapers, etc. are not appropriate. Information from sources must be summarized in your own words to clearly convey your understanding of the material; do not use quotes. This section should end with a transition to your observation (e.g., “To further examine….” “I was interested in observing the parenting styles in a particular context….”). Details about your observation: In detail, describe the focus of your observation so that it is clear what particular information you decided beforehand would be important to pay attention to during the observation (e.g., verbal reactions, emotional expressions, aspects of parenting responses to determine each parenting style style). Stating your focus was on peer interactions without specifics is too vague; rather, you need to describe what particular aspect(s) of peer interaction you were interested in and how it was determined (e.g., The quality of peer interaction was determined by the tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, and physical contact. Specifically I looked for….). In addition, provide a thorough description regarding: 1) the setting (e.g., where was it, how was it set up, what was going on); 2) the individuals you observed (e.g., how you selected who to observe, approximate age range, sex, characteristics, number); and 3) nature of your observations (e.g., length, time of day, procedures, your location in the setting). Summary of what you observed: This is the part of the paper where you present your ‘data’ that you observed by putting your observation notes into a reader friendly paper/paragraph format. This should be a very focused summary of what you observed in relation to your original focus so that the summary can clearly lead into your conclusion. Use the specific information that you identified beforehand in your focus to determine what information to describe in your summary (e.g., describe the occurrence of behaviors that you identified beforehand to ‘code’ attachment style). Clearly identify these behaviors in your summary (e.g., Child X continually looked at her mother as she entered the classroom indicating she was using her mother as a secure base. Thus, I classified her as having a secure attachment style”). The summary should not be a moment by moment description of what you observed, but a description of the events in relation to the specific focus. You don’t have to describe every single incident that you observed, rather provide a good representation, but two hours of observation should be reflected in your summary. End this with a final integration that connects everything you observed across the 2 hours (e.g., total number of times observed particular behavior); a table or figure is particularly useful for tying it all together. This final integration sets the stage for the conclusion that follows. Conclusion from observation: Provide a conclusion statement based on your observations (e.g., “Based on the observations, it can be concluded that. . .”) that is clearly connected to the original focus/purpose of your observations and follows from the previous summary. Be sure that you don’t include aspects that were not part of your original focus. The statement(s) should be easily identifiable as a conclusion prior to the next parts of the paper. Transition into the discussion. Discussion using 2 research articles: This part involves 2 things to address for each article. Do parts a & b for one article and then parts a & b for the other article (rather than a for both articles followed by b for both articles). Be sure that both sources meet the requirements previously described or it will be difficult to fully address the requirements. Summarize the research study. Your summary should include: 1) background information about the study; this is the review of the literature that is in the Introduction section of the article to set up the particular study (e.g., what has previous research shown & how does this study build on that) and includes hypotheses/goals; 2) the sample; this information can be found in the Method section of the article (i.e., number, sex, ages, ethnicity, other characteristics); 3) the variables & measures; this information can be found in the Method section of the article (i.e., how specifically was data collected with details about the assessment and what specifically was measured with the assessment); and 4) findings/conclusions; this information can be found in the Results and Discussion sections of the article. Do not use quotes from the articles anywhere in your paper; even if you were to properly cite the quote, it is not appropriate for this assignment. Use the article to gain insight into your observations. This involves putting your small scale semi-formal observation in the context of the published research study. You need to use the published study to make more sense of your observation. This can take a variety of forms. You could use the article to provide empirical/theoretical explanations for why you observed what you did; you could use the published study to make predictions about the targets in your observations (e.g., your observation was about early childhood and you use a published study on the same topic that examined older children); you could make meaningful and in depth comparisons between the study and your observation (e.g., implications of using children of different ethnic backgrounds or the use of different methodologies); you can use specific example/incident/child from your observation and specifically connect it to ideas in the published study. If your conclusions are different from the published study, you could evaluate possible explanations for why your conclusions were different (e.g., age range, setting, procedures). Be sure that you show thoughtful and in depth use of the study in relation to your observation (e.g., don’t just identify similarity in findings without further discussion of what this means in relation to your observation). This should not just be a description of what you observed nor just a discussion of the research; rather it needs to be an integration of your observation and the published research. Overall, you need to provide clear strong evidence that you are able to make ‘everyday’ types of observations and consider them in the context of empirical research. Conclusion: Include a final paragraph that ties everything together. APA Format & General Guidelines Your typed paper needs to adhere to APA style for formatting, title page, headings, citations, and References section. A general guideline for length is 8-10 pages of text (excluding title and References pages). Quality is more important than quantity; however, it will be difficult to address all that this paper requires in less than 8 pages. There are 10 grading categories for 10 points each: 1) Intro: Scientific Set Up; 2) Observation Details (Focus, Setting, Targets, Procedures; 3) Summary of Observation; 4) Conclusion from Observation; 5) Article 1: Summary; 6) Article 1: Insight into Observation; 7) Article 2: Summary; 8) Article 2: Insight into Observation; 9) APA Style; and 10) Writing.
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