Workshop at the 2012 Active Living Research Annual Conference.
This workshop informed participants about (a) the advantages and disadvantages of using direct observation to assess physical activity and its contexts, (b) published observation tools for assessing physical activity and related contextual variables (e.g., accessibility, usability, and presence of supervision, equipment, and organized activities) in various settings, including school leisure time at school (SOPLAY), community parks and recreation centers (SOPARC), and wilderness areas (SOPARNA); and (c) viable procedures for training and maintaining reliable observers and managing and analyzing data.
Discussion included definitions of behavioral categories of interest, protocols for use (e.g., pacing of observations), coding conventions (i.e., interpretations of common scenarios), observation techniques (e.g., duration, frequency, interval, and time-sampling recording), observer training and recalibration, inter-observer reliability, subject reactivity, activity level validation, and practical issues. Interactive features included (a) participants completing a short questionnaire, (b) participants using coding sheets while responding to video segments from training DVDs, and (c) experienced researchers providing their own examples relative to events such as training and maintaining observers, purchase and maintenance of observational equipment, accessibility to locations, human subjects consent, assessing reliabilities, and data summary and analyses.
Explain advantages and disadvantages of various direct observation methods.
Select from among current observational tools and modify them to suit their individual research needs.
Interact with experienced observational researchers relative to issues such as observer training, mapping of areas, and data recording, storage, aggregation, summary, and analysis.