Observation means to look outside of oneself, at others. It is an important means to collect information. It is a non-testing or non-standardized technique. In counseling, much of the information regarding the personal adjustment of the individual is obtained by this method.
Definition of observation
As per Good – “Observation deals with the behavior of individuals in appropriate situations.”
As per Hampleman – “Observation as a method of studying pupils/students, consists of the direct observations of the behavior of individual or class group.”
Characteristics of observation
- Observation is specific.
- Scientific observation is systematic.
- It is quantitative as there is recording of the number of instances.
- Results can be checked in terms of reliability and validity.
- It is a technique to observe the behavior of an individual.
- It is carried out for one person at a time.
Situations of observation
- Free/Open – There is no restriction in this situation.
- Manipulated – The observer introduces special or additional factors in the situation. Eg. Drop a 100 rupee note and see if anyone pockets it or returns it.
- Controlled situation – This is undertaken in controlled or restricted environments. Eg. Interview panel, examinations, debates.
- Uncontrolled situation – Where one has no control over the situation. Eg. Calamities, Epidemics.
Types of observation
- Natural – Observation carried out in natural settings without any tools or techniques.
- Participant – Observer establishes perfect rapport with the group/individual in such a way that he/they may not become aware of his purpose and thus may not hide their actual behavior.
- Direct versus Indirect – Directly observing the individual versus deductions on the basis of some collected information.
- Recorded versus Unrecorded – Noting observation down is recorded while not noting it down is unrecorded.
- Individual versus Group – Observing only one person versus an entire group.
Principles of observation
- At a time only one child should be observed.
- The process of observation should go on over a long period of time.
- Observation should be systematic.
- The pupil ALONG WITH the surrounding situation should be observed.
Advantages of observation
- It is a useful technique to collect data of students.
- It is flexible and can be used in various situations.
- It can be used by all persons.
- We can keep a record of the pupil’s actual or real behavior in different situations.
- It is a very reliable instrument technique for the study of behavior pattern.
- We can know a lot about the mental processes and personality.
- It is economical, natural and flexible.
- It is useful for studying the influence of heredity and environmental factors on the child’s development.
Limitations of observation
- It is difficult to observe the inner behavior of the child.
- If we make the person whom we are observing conscious then behavior becomes artificial.
- Sometimes observation may be full of favoritism.
- Sometimes mental and physical fatigue affects the quality of observation.
- There is great scope for subjectivity.