Play at McDonald's
The following is a sample Paper 3 that looks at a naturalistic observation. Below you will first find the stimulus piece, followed by the static questions. A copy of the mock paper is included to give students as an in-class assessment.
Potential answers are included in the hidden boxes below.
Cheang (2002) studied a group of older adults at a fast food restaurant in Honolulu. Before he was able to begin the study, he obtained permission from the manager under the conditions that he 1) appear to be a paying customer, 2) not conduct any formal interviews or surveys on the premises, and 3) not interfere with the flow of business.
The researcher spent the first two weeks simply observing the behaviour of the regular customers. He then decided to focus on a specific group of about 26 adults, one of the larger groupings that came there frequently and was diverse with regard to gender and age.
The researcher sat at a table and eventually began talking to one of the group members. He was eventually introduced to other members of the group. They were friendly, but at first, viewed him as an outsider. He showed up every Tuesday and Thursday, and sometimes Friday, and soon became part of the group.
He observed the group in the setting for 2 or 3 days a week for 9 months. His initial observations entered discretely on index cards. To write longer notes, he went into a telephone booth or the restroom. The group soon became accustomed to his jotting notes on cards and paid little or no attention to it, returning quickly to the ongoing activities. His notes focused on the topics of discussion and the nature of the interaction among this group of friends. By the fifth month, several themes of behaviour and experiences emerged: sociability, play, and laughter. Findings suggest that: (a) older adults congregate at this fast-food restaurant to be with their buddies “to play”; (b) the group is fun for members and there is a lot of laughter; and (c) group membership in this restaurant provides structure, meaning, and opportunities for these older adults to engage in personal expression.
In month 6 he shared his observations and the themes with group members and interviewed them with regard to their perceptions of the themes that were generated from his field notes. They agreed with him that this was, indeed, how they felt about their frequent visits and the time they spent together.
Cheang, Michael (2002), "Older Adults' Frequent Visits to a Fast-Food Restaurant: Nonobligatory Social Interaction and the Significance of Play in a Third Place," Journal of Aging Studies, 16 (August), 303-21.
1a. Identify the method used and outline two characteristics of the method.
1b. Describe the sampling method used in the study.
1c. Suggest an alternative or additional research method giving one reason for your choice.
2. Describe the ethical considerations that were applied in the study and explain if further ethical considerations could be applied.
3. Discuss how a researcher could ensure that the results of the study are credible.