ogical Methods —- Spring 2015
Project #3 — Field Research —
Doing detailed field research observation takes practice. Find a social location that meets the criteria of a good field site and assume a total observer role for 45 minutes. Return to the same location 24 to 48 hours later for a second 45-minute observation period. During your first visit, notice everything about the physical setting using all your senses. Take notes if possible. After you leave the site, try to write down everything you can recall. During your second visit, (1) notice what you missed about the physical setting the first time that helps produce its atmosphere; and (2) notice the people—their number, age, gender, ethnicity—and entry/exit location. After you leave the site, try to write down everything you can recall. One to two days later, reread your notes for both 45 minute observation sessions and add any other details you recall. NOTE: You must visit the site twice.
Write up a summary of your participant observation (at least 3 pages). Include the following items in your write-up:
1. Provide a description of the site and discuss why you chose this site. Did you have a particular research question or interest that led you to choose the site?
2. Synthesize the key patterns of social interaction you observed at the site.
3. Summarize your findings. Did you have an expectation going into the site? Was this expectation confirmed by your observation? Why or why not?
4. What were the date and times of your visits? Did these factors impact what you observed?
5. If you had no expectations, did you observe something unexpected?
6. How did you feel as a participant observer during your period of observing? Did your experience change your feelings about the site?
7. Did your observations generate any research questions worth pursuing in the future?
IMPORTANT: When addressing these questions be sure to draw from your notes from the field site, using examples and illustrations from your notes to make your points. Your report should provide rich detail about your site and the interactions you observed there. Imagine you are making a movie about your site and you need to provide all the details to recreate the scenes you observed.