|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||School Games Sport Child development|
Free time or structured breaks in learning institutions cannot be underestimated for its importance. It is deemed essential both physiologically and psychologically. Due to the positive benefits of free time, all learning institutions are advised to incorporate, in their programs, break periods. During break periods, students engage in a plethora of activities some are egregious, while others are significantly safe and healthy (Freeman & Oliver, 2009). Activities in an ideal well-integrated high school, inclusive of all genders and various ethnic clusters, would range from sporting activities to walk and talk engagements. The reminiscence of high school days reminds one of the activities such as playing basketball, baseball, and football, chatting, painting, and walk-talking, among others. It is also not a surprise to see some students engaging in dancing and quick runs. Most students prefer slow activities such as roaming in the school compound. A significant number of students participate in sporting activities, presumably, because it's a way of indicating one is more talented than their peers (Loucaides, Jago & Charalambous, 2009). Slow engagements consume more time than engaging engagements. Students closer to final exams are more focused on discussions as they walk about the school compound. They are also likely to muzzle smaller students in the lower classes.
Understanding what students undertake during their free time, unstructured observation seems to be the most appropriate data collection method. It imbues a reminiscent phenomenology of life back in high school. Unstructured observation is the only data collection method that affords participants time and space to 'live' with the sample size—partaking in their day-to-day activities, active in the moments. It is the ideal data collection method that marries with various data types as it can utilize field notes, photographs, and empirical observations (Mulhall, 2003). The process prides itself on a lack of a structured framework that would be consequentially predictable. Alternatively, unstructured observation offers a researcher an option of captioning events with subtle originality and dynamism. Its superiority is embedded in its embroilment of observation as a data collection method; it transcends observation and focuses on selective observation.
Strengths of Unstructured Observation
Among its strengths is its ability to offer a researcher a daily routine that can prove vital in addressing issues to do with trends. Repetition also, a tenet of unstructured observation, ensures data is more detailed, and events do not pass unnoticed. Utilizing unstructured observation would be appropriate for collecting data concerning various activities and emotions attached to them. It would also set departure points for racial and gender-oriented events, which would provide insights into why such things happen through oral questioning of subjects. Understanding repeated retrogressive behaviors such as bullying. When and why bullying and other hideous activities take place is a vital piece of information that would probably enable learning institutions to curb such happenings. During breaks, students usually socialize using either verbal or nonverbal cues; for instance, if a student was to say thank you to a student standing far from them, then, a thumbs up, maybe, could be an option. Students are also known to cluster according to their kindred spirits in social engagements. Thus, bullies, students living in proximity neighborhoods, and those who had experienced or observed similar events such as accidents and joyous moments such as birthday parties, are likely to be clustered together. Such a level of detail can adequately be captured by living through student life. Due to its lack of specification, either through time or activity to be investigated, unstructured observation could be an important avenue for more appropriate hypotheses and data analysis methods. It is further supported by the fact that activities in which students engage during break periods are structured in nature, thus, could appropriately be studied by a method with similar characteristics.
In as much as structured observation constitutes various advantages upon which it is considered appropriate for the study herein, it should be noted that the method is crowded with limitations that act as a stumbling block to its application's success. One of the main challenges associated with this method is that students are likely to change their usual behavior whenever a stranger is introduced in their social setting (Hurni, 2001). Change of behavior is a detrimental aspect likely to affect the outcome of the impending study, particularly in a negative way. Unstructured observation is also not a timed endeavor, which poses a challenge of theme identification; interesting themes are also likely to slowly consume time as it requires connecting the dots cumulative over some time. Issues are also dynamic. Unstructured observation is also a time-consuming data collection method considering that a researcher to gain a clear picture of happenings before arriving at a hypothesis. The data collection method is also constrained by one's beliefs concerning emerging issues, thus leading to wayward conclusions. Another critical limitation associated with the study mentioned above process is its capability to capture developing events rapidly. Recording of socially, fast-developing circumstances, especially among young people, would later oblige researchers to conduct multivariate approaches for better hypothesis generations and accurate results.
Why Unstructured Observation and Not Others?
Unstructured observation supersedes other data collection methods by acting as a source of myriad data types. Concerning structured interviews, unstructured observation is more appropriate at this stage, because a hypothesis that would provide a direction of the study herein is unavailable. Structured interviews may, therefore, be appropriate in the later stages when a clear-cut locus has been identified. Similarly, a structured observation would be insufficient in such a study that consists of an unstructured theme. When analyzing and understanding the intricacies of involved interactions, a method such as structured observations would be an antithesis of achieving such outcomes.
Unstructured observation is also presumably better than interviews and questionnaires in numerous ways. Regarding interviews, they are insightful in gaining students' perspectives that are susceptible to alterations stemming from students trying to align themselves with their presumed intention of the research (Gillham, 2008). Pressures to provide responses that are in line with what one, as a researcher presumably hopes to achieve, such tensions may result in wrong conclusions. Thus, insights from such a study would be misguiding and trivial. During interviews, it is also possible for students to misinterpret questions. Hence, they may provide inappropriate responses. Students are also prone to forgetting or intentionally leaving out important details of occurrences. For instance, students involved in retrogressive behaviors such as bullying may have the power to comment or contribute in any way concerning the issue unless under compulsion. Questionnaires are comparable to interviews in terms of their insufficiency, and pertinent to appropriateness. Questionnaires stem from structured observations, that require a predetermined hypothesis. In this case, none is established yet. Questionnaires are also deemed to be time-consuming from creation through review, testing, and revision. Questionnaires are also embroiled in retrains, particularly close-ended ones. Students would also not be allowed to provide their innate feelings, interests, and thoughts.
In terms of data expectations, both qualitative and quantitative data should be featured in the study's wake. Quantitative data from the study involves regular periods of activities undertaken by students (Gillham, 2008). Map sketches would also result from the study, concerning spaces regularly utilized for certain activities with captions of details concerning those activities. Most data are presumed to be qualitative; this is because the study will include students' narratives.
Ideally, it would be prudent to utilize several approaches to achieve the maximum results from the study represented herein. At this stage, where much is not known about themes elicited during free durations, unstructured observation is deemed the most appropriate approach. Unstructured observation supersedes the other methods of data collection in various ways. In particular, it provides one with insights concerning intricacies associated with daily interactions partaken by students. Although the unstructured observational process also involves some consequential drawbacks, it is the most appropriate approach per se.
Freeman, R., and Oliver, M., 2009. Do school break-time policies influence child dental health and snacking behaviors? An evaluation of a primary school program. British dental journal, 206(12), p.619.
Gillham, B., 2008. Observation techniques: structured to unstructured. Education Review/Reseñas Educativas/Resenhas Educativas.
Hurni, C., 2001. An exploration of the use of break times to promote the social curriculum in secondary schools. Pastoral Care in Education, 19(1), pp.3-8.
Loucaides, C.A., Jago, R., and Charalambous, I., 2009. Promoting physical activity during school break times: piloting a simple, low-cost intervention. Preventive Medicine, 48(4), pp.332-334.
Mulhall, A., 2003. In the field: notes on observation in qualitative research. Journal of advanced nursing, 41(3), pp.306-313.
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