The electronically activated recorder (ear): A novel approach for examining social environments in youth sport


Sport is a context in which youth are afforded the opportunity to develop meaningful connections with peers and adults (e.g., Holt, 2016). Based on recent evidence, the interactions that athletes have outside immediate training and competition environments can shape their overall sport experiences (Tamminen et al., 2017). Accordingly, researchers have been challenged to explore innovative approaches that can contribute rich data and subsequently inform a more comprehensive understanding of what constitutes enriched sport experiences. Technological innovation combined with careful consideration of ethical concerns have led to the development of novel research approaches that can assess participants' conversations in their natural sport and social environments. This presentation will introduce the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR; Mehl et al., 2001) as a novel ambulatory ecological assessment tool. Established originally in social psychology, the EAR can provide access to the daily social processes involving athletes and coaches within and beyond immediate sport activities (e.g., commute to/from training/competition, locker rooms, hotels). The EAR software is embedded within a portable recording device (e.g., iPod Touch) that is programmed to record brief segments of audio from participants' daily lives. In addition to discussing the utility of this approach for sport contexts, we introduce the Audio Coding System for Social Environments in Sport (ACSSES), which was developed specifically to assess communication and interactions related to youth athlete social identity. Evidence for the reliability and validity of the ACSSES, the associated coder training protocol, and proposed implications for research will be discussed.

Acknowledgments: This research was funded by SSHRC IG 435-2016-0591 and the Canada Research Chairs Program