Exploratory observation

Exploratory observation is key in understanding animal behavior.  Observation leads to developing new research questions and ways to create measures of the categories you observe.  You will go out into the world and carefully watch an animal’s behavior and take detailed, time-stamped notes in your “field notebook”.  Animals can be found in any number of places: your backyard, on campus, neighborhood parks, and zoos.  

Choose a particular animal and observe it as it interacts with its environment and with other animals, both intra-species (within its own species) and inter-species (with animals of other species). In your “field notebook” you record the date, time, weather, & other conditions under which the observations are made.  The goal is to try to understand your animal’s behavior so your notes should reflect this.  Write down your observations, then, ask researchable questions about your animal’s behavior.  Avoid anthropomorphic questions/comments. 

You can and should complete these observations over the course of several different visits.  These observations take time so you should anticipate several 30 minute observation sessions to get the hang of taking detailed, useable, notes.  If you find that your chosen animal is not working out for you, you can switch to a different animal (but do it early in your schedule).  It is important to start EARLY in the semester and make your observations on your animal’s behavior over the course of the semester.  Observation 1 and 2 can be on the same or different animal.

Observation 2 Due 4/10 by 11:59 pm: 800 words (approx. 1 3/5 pages single space or 3 1/5 pages double spaced)~ 2 hours of observation

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