Observation and Participant Observation
Participant observation is one of the sorts of observation discussed, with an emphasis on foregrounding children’s experience. Observation shares with methods of discourse analysis a way to vividly reframe a subject matter in more child-relevant terms. Often the results are unexpected and enlightening, for example, giving a better understanding of youthful social practices. Other observational forms are direct observation, unobtrusive observation, and contrived observation such as videotaping. The reality of doing child-centered participant observation raises challenges. The participant-observer must be socially adept, open, reflexive, tolerant of ambiguity, and able to sustain unrelenting effort. Issues of adult-child interplay are germane to child-centered participant observation. Such issues include: 1) the sort of role a researcher takes; 2) a need to avoid deference towards the adult by children, through a dialogical process of give and take.
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