Behavioral Research Blog

5 examples of research on adolescence

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Sep 2, 2014

A couple of months ago, the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence attracted many researchers from all over the world, all interested in adolescent behavior. On this blog, we’ve dedicated a number of posts to recent projects (educational research, research on adolescence). Interested? Check out five examples below!

1) Adolescent Motherhood – observing mother-infant behavior

Current research from Prof. Cristina Riva Crugnola, University of Milano-Bicocca tells us that adolescent mothers as well as their babies (vs. adult mother and infant interactions) spent more time in negative engagement, meaning that the mothers showed more pushy behaviors towards the infant, even hostility. The infant also showed more negative behaviors, such as protesting with expressions of anger and crying. Riva Crugnola and colleagues state that it is important to train skills and competence in adolescent mother-infant interaction by setting up prevention programs. Young mothers should be supported in learning how to be a mother and regulating emotions (in particular, negative ones). Also, timing is everything - the researchers explain that it is also important to start preventive intervention in the first months of life.

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Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, classroom observation software, adolescent behavior

iPads® and children with ASD are a great combination!

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Dec 3, 2013

“The rapid rise in popularity and perceived potential of the iPad® has led to many educational services in the USA and elsewhere purchasing iPads® for their students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)”. That’s exactly what Amie King and colleagues (2013) inspired to start with an exploratory study into the use of iPads at a special day school for individuals with significant impairments in Midwestern United States. In a sense the popularity of this technology has outpaced research into its effectiveness. With their research, King et al. aimed to fill the knowledge gap in the tablet research literature.

How are children with ASD using iPads?
The study of King and her colleagues shows us how children with ASD are currently using iPads and apps and explores the role that education professionals have on iPad and app use. The study took place in a school to explore the use in an educational context. A total of 28 apps were observed. These were classified in three categories: 1) augmentative and alternative communication apps (AAC), 2) academic apps, and 3) game apps. The young adults and children who participated in this study were recorded on video during a school day. A total of six children and young adults (6y to 20y) with ASD were observed. King et al. explain that their choice for naturalistic observation methods enabled them to provide an unobtrusive glimpse of routine iPad use in children with ASD in their typical environment. Data coding was performed using The Observer XT software. By dividing the coding work in five phases from more general to in-depth analysis, the researchers were able to code the segments of video which were of particular interest to them in great detail. This analysis of video material led them towards describing durations of behaviors of interest, such as time spent in each of the four iPad environments (app, home screen, app settings, iPad settings), time spent in each category of app, and time app functions were used 'correctly' or 'incorrectly' (fulfilled/violated (King et al. 2013)).

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Topics: The Observer XT, video observation, classroom observation software, autism research

Classroom observations - behavior of children with and without ADHD

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Aug 15, 2013

The relationship between reaction time variability and observed attention in children with and without ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has become a fairly common subject of research in today’s society. The disorder affects working memory, attention span, and inhibitory control. There are two types, Combined and Predominantly Inattentive. In this study, 146 participants between the ages of 7 and 11 were split into three groups: ADHD-Combined (ADHD-C), ADHD-Predominantly Inattentive (ADHD-I), and a control. Tanya Antonini and colleagues looked for an association between reaction time (RT) variability and observed behavioral indicators of attention.

Building on results
Antonini et al.’s study (2013) built on the results that were presented in Epstein et al.’s study (2011). This study examined differences in RT variability between children with and without ADHD across five computerized tasks. The results of this study showed that the RTs of children with ADHD were more variable than those of the control group, and were also less accurate than the control on the majority of the tasks. This study did not have an analog math task.

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Topics: The Observer XT, classroom observation software, coding schemes, neuropsychology

Classroom observations including facial expression analysis

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on May 1, 2013

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Topics: The Observer XT, emotion recognition, video observation, FaceReader, facial expression analysis, Educational research, classroom observation software

How to observe adolescents in a classroom

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Jan 23, 2013

In puberty, both boys and girls have to make choices about what to do, what to wear, how to act, who to date, etcetera, etcetera. The really important stuff, you know. In those years (12-18) things are changing, nobody can deny that. A big thing in adolescence is school. In many countries around the world, adolescents go to school at least until they are 16 years of age. Therefore, many researchers focus on classroom interaction. A lot goes on in and around the school and many decisions are made in groups. Group pressure is something that is all around us, but during puberty teenagers find it difficult to ignore the influence of their peers when making decisions. To study these group interactions in schools, researchers place cameras in classrooms to record interactions on video. They code behaviors on handheld devices, interview teachers, and conduct student surveys. Observing a general school population allows psychologists to gain insight into specific group dynamics and the effectiveness of age-based intervention programs.   

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Topics: The Observer XT, on-site research, video observation, Educational research, classroom observation software, coding schemes

Three examples of autism research studies

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Nov 29, 2012

Knowledge is the key to developing a better understanding of autism.

Researchers often observe and code behavior in combination with other research methods such as questionnaires or parental interviews to be able to understand, recognize, and explain specific behaviors that are linked to autism.

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Topics: The Observer XT, T-patterns, Theme, FaceReader, facial expression analysis, infant behavior, Educational research, classroom observation software, coding schemes, autism research, parent-child interaction, behavioral patterns, repetitive behavior

7 Tips to set up a coding scheme

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Nov 15, 2011

The coding scheme or ethogram determines what data you collect and is, thus, an essential part of your behavioral study. How to develop a coding scheme that will provide you with the information you need? You can set up your coding scheme on paper, but you can also use The Observer XT software, a tool which can assist you in the entire workflow of an observational research project.

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Topics: The Observer XT, animal behavior research, on-site research, video observation, Educational research, classroom observation software, coding schemes, Observation lab, human behavior research, consumer behavior, mobile observation, Portable lab

Why classroom observation matters

Posted by Annelies Verkerk on Sep 16, 2011

Classroom behavior is often difficult to follow as researchers simply don’t have enough eyes and ears to catch everything that happens. But if this data can be accurately collected, it can reveal a wealth of information such as the effectiveness of special education programs or engagement of students with behavioral problems. Recommendations based on educational research provide policy makers, teachers, parents, and students with valuable information. For this reason it is extremely important that we study social interaction in educational contexts and record behavior within classrooms. As Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

How to collect and code observational data in educational research
The authors of the Associate Editor's Column in the Journal of Special Education Technology, Dave Edyburn and James Basham, recognize the ongoing interest in observational data collection systems. As a result, they have highlighted four software products as forerunners in this field. Edyburn and Basham explain that it has always been a challenge to collect data in a classroom, and claim that simple recording systems are necessary so that researchers do not miss any new developments. Please read the column to learn more about collecting and coding observational data.

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Topics: The Observer XT, on-site research, video observation, Educational research, classroom observation software, Portable lab

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