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Experience Sampling Method (ESM) and the Study of Occupation

By Jenna C. Yeager, Janet V. DeLany, Sonia Lawson and Mary Beth Merryman


This presentation will describe Experience Sampling Method (ESM) (Csikszentmihalyi & Larson 1984) as an approach for studying occupation, as applied to several distinct populations. Farnworth (2003) observes that time use studies employing methodologies such as ESM enhance understanding of participation in occupations. The essence of ESM is the use of pagers or other signaling devices to trigger respondents to record aspects of current daily experience while engaged in daily life in their natural context (Scollon, Kim- Prieto, & Diener, 2003). The initial ESM research involved the use of pagers to signal participants (Csikszentmihalyi & Larson 1984), who then recorded their responses on paper logs. Technological advances have since expanded the range of options available for signaling participants and for gathering data. Examples include signal watches, personal digital assistants (PDAs), cell phones, text messaging, and handheld wireless devices such as Blackberries®. At Towson University, ESM has been used to explore the occupational patterns of teenage mothers, care givers of stroke survivors, college undergraduates, and individuals with severe and persistent mental illness. This presentation will describe the rationale for the selection of the different methods used in these studies, the contextual influences justifying the methods, and the types of data collected. It then offers a critique of the strengths and limitations of each in relation to the dimensions of the occupation examined, the scope and accuracy of the collected data, the ability of the participant to sustain involvement in the research study, and the associated logistical challenges. Based on these findings, recommendations for continued exploration of ESM as a method for naturalistic inquiry regarding the occupational engagement of a range of populations and across various contexts will be offered

Publisher: CommonKnowledge
Year: 2008
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Provided by: CommonKnowledge
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