Chapter 4

Observations

Chapter 4 of Performing Music Research examines three different types of observation: (1) participant observation, in which the investigator has a dual role, acting as both participant and researcher, thereby placing value on the insights gained through an “insider” perspective on the phenomenon under observation; (2) semi-structured observational methods, typically used when a researcher wants to observe specific behaviors as more of an “outsider” but also wishes to retain an element of open-ended enquiry; and (3) quantitative, structured observational research, which relies on a more objective and detached observation of predetermined categories. Throughout, the chapter considers the advantages of each of these methods and the challenges they pose.

Practice questions

These questions test your knowledge of the content of Chapter 4.

Participant observation is always qualitative.

Which of these features is not typical of participant observation?

Research on learning cultures and the conservatory conducted by Perkins (2013a) involved the administration of questionnaires.

Which of these characteristics is typical of semistructured observation?

What is the first thing you must do before collecting observational data?

Observations can be said to have intra-observer reliability if the same person observes the same data on two occasions, obtaining the same results.

What term describes a tool for generating knowledge?

When drawing up a coding scheme in which behaviors are operationally defined, what should your chosen categories be?

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