Using direct observation techniques

Direct observation techniques allow for a more systematic, structured process, using well-designed observation record forms.

The main advantage of direct observation is that an event, institution, facility, or process can be studied in its natural setting, thereby providing a richer understanding of the subject. (USAID 1996)

On the negative side, direct observation is susceptible to observer bias. The very act of observation also can affect the behaviour being studied.


  • What is direct observation
  • Advantages and limitations
  • When is direct observation useful?
  • Steps in using direct observation
    • Step 1: Determine the focus
    • Step 2: Develop direct observation forms
    • Step 3: Select the sites
    • Step 4: Decide on the best timing
    • Step 5: Conduct the field observation
    • Step 6: Complete forms
    • Step 7: Analyze the data
    • Step 8: Check for reliability and validity


USAID Center for Development Information and Evaluation. (1996) Performance Monitoring & Evaluation TIPS Using Direct Observation Techniques. USAID Center for Development Information and Evaluation. Retrieved from:


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