Although once considered by some researchers to be on the fringe of conventional methodology, observational methodology has been progressively incorporated into diverse areas of educational and psychological research, and mainly in physical activity and sports, and we can find in mainstream physical activity and sports journals (e.g., European Journal of Sport Science, Journal of Sports Sciences, and Journal of Human Kinetics), methodology journals (e.g., Behavior Research Methods, Journal of Neuroscience Methods, and Quality & Quantity), and interdisciplinary journals in Education and Psychology (e.g., European Journal of Psychology of Education, Frontiers in Psychology, and Physiology & Behavior). In this keynote, I will discuss core aspects of systematic observation as a scientific method, with a focus on the profile of this approach and the specific processes it involves. Observational methodology is characterized by high scientific rigor and flexibility throughout its different stages and allows the objective study of spontaneous behavior in natural settings, and it is adjusted to physical activity and sports contexts. The study of spontaneous behavior is characterized by a richness of information that can only be captured by video or sound recordings, without elicitation. Furthermore, the tools now available to explore this richness, often hidden within the deeper layers of the data, have been greatly enhanced by recent technological advances. Quantification in observational methodology is particularly robust and observational studies applying this methodology deserve consideration as mixed methods research. In addition, from a molar perspective, the alternation of QUAL-QUAN-QUAL stages is consistent with the generic approach of the mixed methods research, while achieving a total integration between qualitative and quantitative elements. Such transformation must guarantee the maintenance of the informational quality of the data, even if its appearance varies. The quantitative data analysis techniques used need sequential data and are mostly lag sequential analysis, polar coordinate analysis, or T-pattern detection, all of which have been widely used in physical activity and sport. In addition, recently published works support integration by complementing several of these analytical techniques. We consider that this quantitizing proposal is a relevant solution for integration in studies of physical activity and sport that uses observational methodology.
Faculty of Psychology
University of Barcelona
Prof. Dr. M. Teresa Anguera is Emeritus Professor of the University of Barcelona. She holds degrees in Psychology, for which she also received an Extraordinary Award, and Law, both from the University of Barcelona, and she attained her doctorate in psychology at the same university. She developed observational methodology, and its application in several areas, mainly in sports and physical activity. She has taken part in 30 government-funded research projects or those commissioned by various official institutions and has been the principal investigator on the majority of these. She has published numerous works in both Spain and internationally, and has authored or co-authored 27 books, 133 book chapters and 230 articles. To date she has supervised or co-supervised 56 completed doctoral theses. She became a full academic member of the Royal Academy of Doctors and has been President of the Professional Ethics Committee of the Catalan Psychological Society. She was President of the Spanish Association of Methodology in the Behavioural Sciences (AEMCCO), and Vice-Secretary of the European Association of Methodology (EAM). As regards her management activities she has been, within the University of Barcelona, among other, Vice-Rector for Science Policy, and Vice-Rector for Teaching and Science Policy. Also, she has been member of Steering Committee of the Council for Doctoral Education at the European University Association (EUA-CDE), and she has been Acting Chair for the University of Barcelona for the First Arab-Euro Conference on Higher Education (AECHE).