Structured observation is an observation technique that requires a lot of planning on part of the researcher. This approach is generally used to study mundane everyday behaviors and interactions. The data is collected and then systematically analyzed by the researcher. The participants may be observed in real-time at the location or through a video device. We now list some of the advantages and disadvantages of the structured observation technique.
Advantages of Structured Observations:
- After receiving the proper instruction about how to conduct the study it can be done by anyone. As a result, you might assign this time-consuming job to a hired individual. Structured observation may also be conducted simultaneously in many locations. This would give the chance to compare results obtained in different locations.
- A major advantage of structured observation is that it is useful for studying behaviors that investigators rarely have an opportunity to see in everyday life.
- Because it can be replicated, it ought to produce trustworthy results.
- A strength of structured observation is that more than just observing the frequency of events can be done. It is also possible to document how occurrences relate to one another. For instance, does visiting a website result in the surfing of connected sites by the individual?
- The technique enables the capture of data at the precise moment that it occurs in its natural environment. As a result, there is no need to rely on “second-hand” explanations of phenomena from sources who interpret events in their own way.
- Structured observation captures information that most informants would overlook because it is too commonplace or unimportant to them.
Disadvantages of Structured Observations:
- A limitation of structured observation is that the observer must be present in the research environment while the events being studied occur unless virtual observation is being used.
- The process of structured observation is very time-consuming. The cost of conducting such observational studies is very high.
- Another weakness of structured observation is that data collection is challenging and may be unreliable due to the simultaneous or complicated nature of the behaviors, interactions, and events being observed.
- Structured observation is useful for capturing the frequency of behaviors, interactions, or events, but it can only observe overt behaviors or overt surface indications. This may not be sufficient to investigate the significance or efficacy of the acts, interactions, or events being watched, leaving the observer to draw conclusions.
- Structured observations will be of little use for the study if no theory has been previously specified or developed. To make sense of the information gathered and comprehend its significance in the scenario under observation, the analysis must search for patterns of interactions, interactions, or events. Such analysis may reveal the relationships between behaviors and how they influence results.
- The validity of conclusions gained through organized observation may be questioned if environmental variability within a research context is not taken into account. The environment is likely to have an impact on interactions, behaviors, and events, and disregarding this factor is likely to raise questions about the results. On the other hand, accounting for or controlling for environmental factors is likely to increase the validity of the conclusions reached.
- The greatest disadvantage of a structured observation is that participants may not behave the same way in the laboratory as they do in their natural environments.