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Refers to a data collection strategy in evaluation that relies on first-hand experiences of places, activities and events. Observation can be formal (e.g. using protocols and checklists) or informal (e.g. describing the sense of having been there) as well as participant (i.e. the observer assumes a role relative to that social context). Reports of observations are useful when they are low inference. i.e. more descriptive and less evaluative. Observation quality is assumed to improve over prolonged periods of time.[1]


  1. Mathison, Sandra. Encyclopaedia of Evaluation, pp 285, Ed. University of British Columbia. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2005.