Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Methods

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INFORMATION COLLECTION TOOLS – ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
Information Collection Tools Observation Advantages    Collect data where and when an event or activity is occurring Does not rely on people’s willingness to provide information Directly see what people do rather than relying on what they say they do Relatively inexpensive Good source of background information Unobtrusive Provides a “behind the scenes” look at a program that may not be directly observable May bring up issues not noted by other means Useful for gaining insight and context into a topic Allows respondents to describe what is important to them Useful for gathering quotes and stories Quick and relatively easy to set up Group dynamics can provide useful information that individual data collection does not provide Is useful in gaining insight into a topic that may be more difficult to gather information through other data collection methods Disadvantages  Susceptible to observer bias  Hawthorne effect – people usually perform better when they know they are being observed  Does not increase understanding of why people behave the way they do  Information may be inapplicable, disorganized, unavailable or out of date  Could be biased because of selective survival of information  Information may be incomplete or inaccurate  Can be time consuming to collect, review, and analyze many documents  Susceptible to interview bias  Time consuming and expensive compared to other data collection methods  May seem intrusive to the respondent  Susceptible to facilitator bias  Discussion can be dominated or sidetracked by a few individuals  Data analysis is time consuming and needs to be well planned in advance  Does not provide valid information at the individual level  The information is not representative of other groups

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