Child Development 133 
Research Methods in Human Development

Sections 01 & 05
Hembree            Fall, 2012




I. Measurement Issues

A. Behavior can be described in a variety of ways…



  B. Constructs and the problem of measurement

1. Hypotheses and constructs (ideas).



2. operational definitions and conceptual definitions





Name some constructs that cannot be seen but that are important to our everyday lives.  How would you go about operationally defining these in an experiment? How does an operational definition limit our understanding of a construct?


            C. Scales of measurement

1.  Nominal (or categorical)



2. Ordinal



3. Interval



4. Ratio




D. Measurement Error

  • Sources of measurement error





II.  Evaluating measures

A. Reliability  

1. Test-retest



2. Split-half



3. Inter-observer agreement



How to increase reliability?  



  B. Validity  


1. Face validity 



2. Construct validity 



3. Criterion validity/Predictive validity




DISCUSSION: Measuring “social interaction”



III. Making decisions about data collection

         A. WHERE will we conduct our research?

Things to consider:

1. Control versus “naturalness”





                        2. What is my question?







3. How do I wish to generalize my results?






B.   HOW will we collect our data?

  • what techniques best fit my question?





IV. Typically used methods for data collection

A. Observation  

1. participant-observer or objective observer?





2. disguised vs. undisguised?





3. observational methods

  • narrative record 



  • time-sampling/checklists 



  •  event-sampling 



  •  ratings 




4. Inter-observer agreement as index of reliability




B. Report measures - Interviews and Questionnaires

1. Who should respond?





2. Structured or unstructured?






3. Problems with report measures







4. Writing questionnaires



Discussion - designing questionnaires


 C. Performance Measures  






 D. Physiological measures  









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Send problems, comments or suggestions to:

California State University, Sacramento
College of Education
Department of Child Development

Updated: August, 2012