Guidelines for Observation

Guidelines for Observation

Guidelines for Observation, Acting, Acting Basics, Some Acting Basics, Concentration on Performance, Justification and Concentration, Develop Your Concentration, Mind Training, The Breakfast Drink Exercise for Mind, The Animal Exercise,Observation is no different from acting, directing, writing, or any such complex skill set, and requires as much rigorous and regular practice. Most importantly, an observer needs to be armed with a sense of purpose and a couple of questions that he/she is looking to answer with the help of the observations. Such well-defined goal is particularly helpful in keeping boredom at bay. Additionally, a good observation form can help an observer be focused.

    Handy tips for observing:

  • Make it a habit to take notes as best as you can during the session
  • Flesh out the notes immediately afterward, or as soon as you can. The more time that passes, the more data you may miss out
  • When adding more information to your notes after the event, include your own impressions and questions; however, avoid drawing conclusions about the intent of any action
  • If you manage to line up a follow-up conversation or interview with the person or group you observed, ask questions leading to a conclusion about why something was done in a particular way

Remember that your descriptions should be factual, accurate, and thorough. When taking down notes avoid judging the participants (e.g. “participant X was bored”), instead note what you can see and know (e.g., “participant X had her eyes closed and head on desk throughout class”).
Don’t worry about missing out on something. Be realistic, and you would know that it is just not possible to observe everything. The best approach is to first scan the room for activity more generally, and then move to focus for a couple of minutes on particular students or elements. It is also a good practice to keep track of the time in your notes as well. Here, remember to even jot down details about periods of informal interaction and unplanned activities such as breaks, leisure time, arrivals, departures, etc. and also concentrate on what ‘does not happen.’ For example, if you were observing how well students follow directions, you might also note if no directions were ever given.

Observe and report observations with humility and a non-judgmental attitude. Let your observations not be colored with malice. Letting go of such negative emotions will make you generous in your heart, less paranoid in your head, and more effective overall.

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