Explain Observation Technique

Observation Technique


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.

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