Q 5. What are the differences between observation and interviewing as methods of data collection? Give two specific examples of situations where either observation or interviewing would be more appropriate.
Ans:- Observation means viewing or seeing. Observation may be defined as a systematic viewing of a specific phenomenon in its proper setting for the specific purpose of gathering data for a particular study. Observation is classical method of scientific study.
Observation as a method of data collection has certain characteristics.
1. It is both a physical and a mental activity: The observing eye catches many things that are present. But attention is focused on data that are pertinent to the given study.
2. Observation is selective: A researcher does not observe anything and everything, but selects the range of things to be observed on the basis of the nature, scope and objectives of his study. For example, suppose a researcher desires to study the causes of city road accidents and also formulated a tentative hypothesis that accidents are caused by violation of traffic rules and over speeding. When he observed the movements of vehicles on the road, many things are before his eyes; the type, make, size and colour of the vehicles, the persons sitting in them, their hair style, etc. All such things which are not relevant to his study are ignored and only over speeding and traffic violations are keenly observed by him.
3. Observation is purposive and not casual: It is made for the specific purpose of noting things relevant to the study. It captures the natural social context in which persons behaviour occur. It grasps the significant events and occurrences that affect social relations of the participants.
4. Observation should be exact and be based on standardized tools of research and such as observation schedule, social metric scale etc., and precision instruments, if any.
Interviewing is one of the prominent methods of data collection. It may be defined as a two way systematic conversation between an investigator and an informant, initiated for obtaining information relevant to a specific study. It involves not only conversation, but also learning from the respondent’s gesture, facial expressions and pauses, and his environment. Interviewing requires face to face contact or contact over telephone and calls for interviewing skills. It is done by using a structured schedule or an unstructured guide. Interviewing may be used either as a main method or as a supplementary one in studies of persons. Interviewing is the only suitable method for gathering information from illiterate or less educated respondents. It is useful for collecting a wide range of data from factual demographic data to highly personal and intimate information relating to a person’s opinions, attitudes, values, beliefs past experience and future intentions. When qualitative information is required or probing is necessary to draw out fully, and then interviewing is required. Where the area covered for the survey is a compact, or when a sufficient number of qualified interviewers are available, personal interview is feasible.
Interview is often superior to other data-gathering methods. People are usually more willing to talk than to write. Once report is established, even confidential information may be obtained. It permits probing into the context and reasons for answers to questions. Interview can add flesh to statistical information. It enables the investigator to grasp the behavioural context of the data furnished by the respondents.
Observation is suitable for a variety of research purposes. It may be used for studying
(a) The behavior of human beings in purchasing goods and services.: life style, customs, and manner, interpersonal relations, group dynamics, crowd behavior, leadership styles, managerial style, other behaviours and actions;
(b) The behaviour of other living creatures like birds, animals etc.
(c) Physical characteristics of inanimate things like stores, factories, residences etc.
(d) Flow of traffic and parking problems
(e) movement of materials and products through a plant.