This paper has attempted to develop objectives for a survey utilizing observation research method. The survey focuses on pedestrian traffic in and out of a mall in a busy shopping center in the metropolitan city. The survey aims to determine how many shoppers pass by the store. It also aims to classify the shoppers into various relevant dimensions.
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A shopper in the study is that individual who resides around the store and drops into and out of the shopping mall for regular shopping.
For the survey purposes, observation is defined as a systemic process of inquiry in which the researcher utilizes the five senses to actively explore a problem. In this technique the researcher may use detached or involving methods to engage with the respondents while gathering in formation.
- To determine the number of shoppers in a mall located in a shopping center in the metropolitan city.
- To classify shoppers into various relevant dimensions.
- To what extent do shoppers engage in shopping at a mall located in the central shopping center?
- What categories of shoppers are engaged in mall shopping at the shopping center?
In the survey, objectives and research questions are important towards designing the questionnaire and determining the type of information needed. The objectives define the scope of the study, the target population, the type of research design and data collection methods. At the same time, the researcher will be guided while selecting empirical events, developing a set of mapping rules, assigning numbers or symbols to represent aspects of the event being measured.
He should be guided by standard rules of observation (Cooper & Schindler, 2011 p. 272). The rules and symbols are important when targeting quality and low error data for testing hypotheses, prediction and description. As a researcher, it is important to identify variables at empirical level to which numerical values can be assigned, measured and tested (Cooper & Schindler, 2011 p. 273)
The survey adopts a synergy of both probabilistic and non-probabilistic sampling methods. The probabilistic method used in this study is stratified random sampling in which populations are segregated into mutually exclusive strata. After the population is categorized into strata, the results can be weighted based on the proportions of the population. The process of drawing stratified sample determines population’s strata, proportions of stratified variables, needs and risks (Cooper & Schindler, 2011). Non probabilistic sampling method used in the survey is purposive sampling which is used to improve representativeness of the population.
Sampling the Mall Traffic
The metropolitan city directory indicates current business premises. Using an updated version, it is possible to develop a sampling frame for stores and malls in the business center, from which a randomized selection of the mall or store is done. The sample categories and variables targeted in the study include; age, gender, human traffic, influential people, personal space and personal behaviors. The age, gender and physical appearance may indicate membership to sub-populations during the observations. Personal behaviors may indicate who speaks to who?, for how long?, and who initiates the dialogue?. Personal space may indicate peoples preferences while in a public setting. The human traffic may concentrate on who enters or leaves the mall or store, for how long they stay? their ethnicity, age and gender (Crabtree, 1992)..
In the survey, given that there is greater number of sub-groups of interest within the sample, it will be imperative to have a larger sample size proportionate to its sub-groups. The metropolitan bureau statistics provides population size of the targeted location which assists in determining the sample size of the population and respective sub-populations. The sample size may be derived from the population size.
A qualitative research method applied in the survey is likely to capture the intended objectives and issues at hand. This enables the researcher to understand the perspectives held by the population (Cooper & Schindler, 2011). The study adopted a participant observation technique. In this technique, the researcher becomes participant in the culture or context being observed. His or her role is to collect & store field notes and analysis of data (Crabtree, 1992).
While conducting the survey, it may be appropriate to gauge the attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors of shoppers. This could enable the researcher or observer to immerse him/herself in a community setting, which will easily capture data in its raw form. The nature of research requires the observer to explore the unknown. The survey therefore, may adopt semi-structured or unstructured questionnaires to meat this objective. The questions could be open-ended, flexible and less formal (Crabtree, 1992).
In this method, the researcher learns to be an insider, although he remains and outsider. The research records observations in the field notes or may use audio visual technology to capture observations. Video, tape recorders become handy for getting first hand observation (Crabtree, 1992).
Apart from the technological innovations, the researcher may interact with participants through which, perceptions, physical, social, cultural and economic contexts are determined. After the observation exercise, all field notes, structured observation sheets or questionnaires, sketch maps, audio video and tape recording’s data is analyzed to gauge its relation to the set objectives.
An alternative research design other than the one proposed may not work. A quantitative research method is descriptive in nature and would require closed ended, structured questionnaires to get numeric data. The method looks for evidence to confirm while observation method explores an answer to a problem. In such a setting it would be difficult for researchers to influence questions asked to respondents according to context and setting of a specific group strata (Crabtree, 1992).
Instructions to the observer
- The shoppers must reside within the community and shop regularly in the mall.
- The observer should target both sexes in proportionally that is to say 45% males and 55% females.
- The observers should target proportionate ages of shoppers as 20-25 (15%), 26-30 (15%), 31-35 (20%), 36-40 (15%), 41-45 (15%), 46-50 (15%) and 50 and above (5%).
- Observe physical appearances of each and every shopper.
- Observe the time spent in the shopping mall.
- Observe the interactions in the shopping mall between ethnic, sex and age of shoppers.
- Observe shopping patterns of products.
- Maintain high levels of professional ethics while conducting the observation exercise.
In summary, the paper has explored important steps towards conducting a survey. Operational definition of terms is important when developing theoretical constructs and empirical variables (objects and properties) that are key when measuring an aspect of population. Objectives and research questions guide the researcher to determine the target population, scope of the study, type of research design to be employed and research methods to be used. In the study, a triangulation of sampling methods has been employed to ensure that representativeness is achieved. It has explored the procedures necessary while determining the sample size that is representative of the population and sub-categories of the population.
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Cooper, D.R. & Schindler, P.S. (2011). Business Research Methods, 11th edn. New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin.
Crabtree, B. F. (1992). Doing Qualitative Research. Newsbury Park, CA: Sage Publishers.