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Observations and Fieldnotes: Tips and Tricks

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Observations and Fieldnotes: Tips and Tricks

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If you do field research or customer development (or want to) this presentation includes some useful frameworks and tips and tricks on how to do it. Including a fun surprise exercise at the end...

Transcription

  1. 1. Research workshop: Observation and field notes Rebecca Pardo Research Director
  2. 2. 1. What is observable 2. Objectivity and filters of experience 3. How to actually do it - tips and tricks 4. A fun and cool exercise! What we will cover today
  3. 3. You can use observable data to learn something about a social or semiotic phenomenon - interaction, behaviour, processes, etc… What are observations all about?
  4. 4. Things you can directly perceive with the senses, not with analysis What is observable data? Mental states, emotions, social structures • progress • feminism • patriarchy What is not directly perceivable?
  5. 5. Unless you are doing covert research, you will never get a “natural” setting. Period. Objectivity? No.
  6. 6. People act different when they know they’re being watched.
  7. 7. You will never observe behaviour as it would be without your presence—you can never be a “fly on the wall.” Unless you are doing covert research (no-no), you are *always* affecting what you see. Sometimes people act in a way they think is what you want to see; they may directly benefit from this. Sometimes they hide things from you because they are suspicious or nervous about what you will do with that information. This should be expected. Keep in mind that:
  8. 8. You are never a neutral observer. That’s okay. You subjectivity is actually data.
  9. 9. Always ask yourself: what may be influencing my perception? • Culture, individual taste, preferences, beliefs, experience, religion, gender, ethnicity and race, family, self-image, prejudices • You know what your boss wants to hear • Respect for some people more than others e.g. valuing the perspective of a doctor more than that of a pregnant teenager • Belief about who is trustworthy e.g. assuming that children are usually telling the truth • Internalized norms of politeness e.g. someone cuts in front of you in line; subconsciously in your account of the scene, this person is framed as ignorant or unimportant. Filters
  10. 10. Ignoring your filters will produce bad research.
  11. 11. “What we call our data are really our own constructions of other people's constructions of what they and their compatriots are up to.” -Clifford Geertz
  12. 12. an involuntary twitch an intentional wink an intentional but fake wink a parody of a wink a rehearsal of a wink Let’s say you observe a wink. Is it: ?
  13. 13. “Right down at the factual base we are already explicating: and worse, explicating explications. Winks upon winks upon winks. Analysis, then, is sorting out the structures of signification and determining their social ground and import.” -Clifford Geertz
  14. 14. Okay, now we’ve covered the danger zones. So…now how do you actually do it?
  15. 15. • Take notes even if you’re recording • Go over them as soon as possible and elaborate/reflect; it’s not fun but otherwise you will forget important details • You don’t necessarily know what’s important now; patterns will emerge • But you can follow instincts; find ways of flagging things for yourself • Find ways of distinguishing observation from interpretation • that way you can go back later and re-evaluate your interpretations as you collect more data and conduct more analysis; others can too Basic guidelines
  16. 16. Harry Wolcott’s observational strategies
  17. 17. strategy look for everything look for nothing what it is try - and fail - to observe everything attending to things that seem somehow out of line with the norms - “bumps” helpful for forces narrowing; highlights scope too familiar scenarios: urge to evaluate too complex scenarios: overwhelmed by information look for paradoxes inconsistencies; contradictions surfaces interesting problems; something is doing on here - tensions, conflicting ideologies, change look for the key problem central challenge/ concern/objective that group orients to in their activities understanding what a group has in common; highlighting organizing motivations and priorities
  18. 18. Dell Hymes’ SPEAKING method setting participants ends act sequence key instrumentalities norms genre
  19. 19. s setting participants i.e. time, place, circumstances, cultural setting who is involved and in what role e.g. demographics; age, gender, ethnicity, profession, proficiency with a technology; attitudes, beliefs home, design studio, co-working space, evening, vacation; noisy; fluorescent lights p ends purposes, goals, desired outcomes developing a to-do list; brainstorming; making a request; playing; developing consensus; getting information e act sequence form and order of the event turn-taking; one person speaks followed by Q +A; overlapping talk and interruptions; applause+change of topic a key tone playful, serious, sarcastic, rushedk instrumentalities form/styles of speech writing or communication medium; language variety/register/dialect i norms social rules expected of the event (may be violated) n genre type of event personal anecdote, political debate, casual conversation, lesson g no applause; don’t talk in caps; raise your hand to speak; call and response; cheering; wait in line
  20. 20. An alternative: Rebecca’s super basic model
  21. 21. observation interpretation user imagines waitlist as book traveling through time, not a line of people? next steps/implications for design need to follow up on people’s mental models of waitlists; if this is the case may need to redesign waitlist function methodological notes is this a leading question? consider rewording it for next time participant did not understand that their place in line meant the number of people ahead of them to receive the book
  22. 22. Making these distinctions is helpful to think with internally (and also for clients) to prevent jumping to design recommendations.
  23. 23. And now for some fun! An observational exercise…
  24. 24. Split into groups and watch this short video (If the link doesn’t work, Google “The Situation ordering a cab”)
  25. 25. Split into groups Compare notes 
 Did you notice different things? 
 What were they? Why do you think this happened? Did you identify any filters that coloured your perception?
  26. 26. Thank you If you have any questions or feedback I’d love to hear from you. Find me on Twitter at @msrmp or rebecca@normative.com

Description

If you do field research or customer development (or want to) this presentation includes some useful frameworks and tips and tricks on how to do it. Including a fun surprise exercise at the end...

Transcription

  1. 1. Research workshop: Observation and field notes Rebecca Pardo Research Director
  2. 2. 1. What is observable 2. Objectivity and filters of experience 3. How to actually do it - tips and tricks 4. A fun and cool exercise! What we will cover today
  3. 3. You can use observable data to learn something about a social or semiotic phenomenon - interaction, behaviour, processes, etc… What are observations all about?
  4. 4. Things you can directly perceive with the senses, not with analysis What is observable data? Mental states, emotions, social structures • progress • feminism • patriarchy What is not directly perceivable?
  5. 5. Unless you are doing covert research, you will never get a “natural” setting. Period. Objectivity? No.
  6. 6. People act different when they know they’re being watched.
  7. 7. You will never observe behaviour as it would be without your presence—you can never be a “fly on the wall.” Unless you are doing covert research (no-no), you are *always* affecting what you see. Sometimes people act in a way they think is what you want to see; they may directly benefit from this. Sometimes they hide things from you because they are suspicious or nervous about what you will do with that information. This should be expected. Keep in mind that:
  8. 8. You are never a neutral observer. That’s okay. You subjectivity is actually data.
  9. 9. Always ask yourself: what may be influencing my perception? • Culture, individual taste, preferences, beliefs, experience, religion, gender, ethnicity and race, family, self-image, prejudices • You know what your boss wants to hear • Respect for some people more than others e.g. valuing the perspective of a doctor more than that of a pregnant teenager • Belief about who is trustworthy e.g. assuming that children are usually telling the truth • Internalized norms of politeness e.g. someone cuts in front of you in line; subconsciously in your account of the scene, this person is framed as ignorant or unimportant. Filters
  10. 10. Ignoring your filters will produce bad research.
  11. 11. “What we call our data are really our own constructions of other people's constructions of what they and their compatriots are up to.” -Clifford Geertz
  12. 12. an involuntary twitch an intentional wink an intentional but fake wink a parody of a wink a rehearsal of a wink Let’s say you observe a wink. Is it: ?
  13. 13. “Right down at the factual base we are already explicating: and worse, explicating explications. Winks upon winks upon winks. Analysis, then, is sorting out the structures of signification and determining their social ground and import.” -Clifford Geertz
  14. 14. Okay, now we’ve covered the danger zones. So…now how do you actually do it?
  15. 15. • Take notes even if you’re recording • Go over them as soon as possible and elaborate/reflect; it’s not fun but otherwise you will forget important details • You don’t necessarily know what’s important now; patterns will emerge • But you can follow instincts; find ways of flagging things for yourself • Find ways of distinguishing observation from interpretation • that way you can go back later and re-evaluate your interpretations as you collect more data and conduct more analysis; others can too Basic guidelines
  16. 16. Harry Wolcott’s observational strategies
  17. 17. strategy look for everything look for nothing what it is try - and fail - to observe everything attending to things that seem somehow out of line with the norms - “bumps” helpful for forces narrowing; highlights scope too familiar scenarios: urge to evaluate too complex scenarios: overwhelmed by information look for paradoxes inconsistencies; contradictions surfaces interesting problems; something is doing on here - tensions, conflicting ideologies, change look for the key problem central challenge/ concern/objective that group orients to in their activities understanding what a group has in common; highlighting organizing motivations and priorities
  18. 18. Dell Hymes’ SPEAKING method setting participants ends act sequence key instrumentalities norms genre
  19. 19. s setting participants i.e. time, place, circumstances, cultural setting who is involved and in what role e.g. demographics; age, gender, ethnicity, profession, proficiency with a technology; attitudes, beliefs home, design studio, co-working space, evening, vacation; noisy; fluorescent lights p ends purposes, goals, desired outcomes developing a to-do list; brainstorming; making a request; playing; developing consensus; getting information e act sequence form and order of the event turn-taking; one person speaks followed by Q +A; overlapping talk and interruptions; applause+change of topic a key tone playful, serious, sarcastic, rushedk instrumentalities form/styles of speech writing or communication medium; language variety/register/dialect i norms social rules expected of the event (may be violated) n genre type of event personal anecdote, political debate, casual conversation, lesson g no applause; don’t talk in caps; raise your hand to speak; call and response; cheering; wait in line
  20. 20. An alternative: Rebecca’s super basic model
  21. 21. observation interpretation user imagines waitlist as book traveling through time, not a line of people? next steps/implications for design need to follow up on people’s mental models of waitlists; if this is the case may need to redesign waitlist function methodological notes is this a leading question? consider rewording it for next time participant did not understand that their place in line meant the number of people ahead of them to receive the book
  22. 22. Making these distinctions is helpful to think with internally (and also for clients) to prevent jumping to design recommendations.
  23. 23. And now for some fun! An observational exercise…
  24. 24. Split into groups and watch this short video (If the link doesn’t work, Google “The Situation ordering a cab”)
  25. 25. Split into groups Compare notes 
 Did you notice different things? 
 What were they? Why do you think this happened? Did you identify any filters that coloured your perception?
  26. 26. Thank you If you have any questions or feedback I’d love to hear from you. Find me on Twitter at @msrmp or rebecca@normative.com

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