This type of research is designed to help the researcher understand behavior in the setting in which it occurs naturally, rather than in a laboratory or other controlled setting. Naturalistic research is appealing because it simulates reality. However, it is challenging because the researcher has limited control over the participants and the settings.
Observational research is one of the common types of naturalistic designs. As a researcher, you might hide your identity and blend in with the natural environment. In this case, you would be an unacknowledged observer in the study. When appropriate, you also may let participants know, usually after you have conducted your observations, about the study and reveal your identity. In this case, you would be an acknowledged observer in the study. In both cases, it is a challenge to measure and record the behavior you are studying because the participants are usually moving constantly, and/or are scattered about, thus making it difficult to record every behavioral occurrence under observation. Since you are observing behavior and not using surveys or other means to collect data from your participants, you need to clearly identify the behavior you are studying and use a coding sheet to track the observed behavior.
In this Discussion, you develop an idea for a hypothetical observational study and create a coding sheet you could use to record your observations.
With these thoughts in mind:
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