Field Notes Assignment, Research Methods
This assignment will give you minimal first hand experience in field research. Conduct 3 hours of field observation. Observe on 3 different days with each observation period at least 45 minutes long. A key to success is to think about the site you select, put effort and involvement into observation, take detailed and in-depth notes, and seriously reflect about the experience.
PART I: Read Chapter 13 in your text.
PART II: Locate a setting and gain access. Write a 1-2 paragraph explanation of why the site was chosen, whether the first site was selected, and if not why. Also discuss any access problems encountered. Characteristics of a good site for observation include:
· it has 1-2 small to moderate sized rooms
· it has 5-25 people
· there are few college students there
· it is a new and unknown place, you should feel a little uncomfortable
· people at the site talk to each other and have interacted with each other in the past.
Better settings are:
Small churches Court Rooms
Health Clubs Bowling Alleys
Small local bars or restaurants work settings
barber/beauty shops small banks
Worse settings are:
large supermarkets shopping malls
large waiting areas almost any place on a college campus
Describe the setting in 1-2 pages. Be explicit and describe the color, size, appearance, odors,
PART III: Conduct field observation and apply techniques described in the textbook. Observe very closely, and take only very few jotted notes in the field, write up extensive field notes shortly after leaving the field. Separate the field notes into three sections:
1) Direct Observation
3) Analytic notes/personal journal
Always include the date, time and name of the observer at
the top of each page of field notes and attached the jotted notes to the field
notes they correspond to.
PART IV: Conduct a short (10 minute) unstructured interview with an informant.
HINTS FOR WRITING GOOD FIELD NOTES
· Be specific. Do not say, Most people wore blue jeans. Instead say, I saw five people in blue jeans, and two people whose pants I could not see
clear. Do not say, It was intense or
nice. Describe what you actually
saw/heard in precise terms.
· Do not make unfounded assumptions. For example, do not say a group of 10 college students arrived together, say a group of 10 people who were 18-22 years old arrived together at about 10:15. Only call individuals college students if you have specific information suggesting that, and then specify what it is (she is in my history class).
· Be explicit. Assume you are writing for a reader who knows nothing about the social or physical setting.