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DEVELOPING FIELD NOTES Guiding Data Collection

Developing Field Notes

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Developing Field Notes. Guiding Data Collection. Theory Guiding the Research Purpose and Questions. Theoretical perspectives are interrelated sets of assumptions, concepts, and propositions that explain the world. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Text of Developing Field Notes

Page 1: Developing Field Notes


Page 2: Developing Field Notes

Theory Guiding the Research Purpose and Questions

Theoretical perspectives are interrelated sets of assumptions, concepts, and propositions that explain the world.

Social theorists, like others, lean on disciplinary perspectives that constitute their intellectual cultures dictating the research direction. Educators, social scientists, community counselors are examples of this intellectual cultures.

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Ethnographic Design Structural functionalism Symbolic interactionism Social exchange theory Conflict Theory

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Functionalism Assumptions

1. All social systems are composed of identifiable, interconnected components

2. These components are structures and institutions.3. Each social system must carry out certain functions

to survive4. The components or each social system carry out

these survival functions5. Each component thus contributes to the overall

health and order of the system.6. Homeostasis is normal; disorder and deviance are


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Interactionism Assumptions

1. Meaning is constructed through social interaction.2. Individuals act on the basis of meaning they

perceive.3. Meanings change in the course of interaction

because of different perceptions held by the actors.

4. Thus, reality is not a prior given; it is based upon interpretations and it is constructed during interaction between and among individual actors.

5. Reality is not fixed, but changes according to the actors and the context.

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Exchange Theory Assumptions

1. While humans are not totally rational and do not always maximize their profits, they do seek some reward in their social transactions.

2. They calculate these rewards in terms of costs and benefits.3. Even though they do not have perfect access to

information, they usually are aware of some alternatives regarding their decisions.

4. The alternatives have varying costs and benefits.5. Humans make decisions balancing those costs and benefits.6. They compete wit one another to make profits in their

decision making

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Conflict Theory Assumptions

1. All social systems are composed to identifiable and interconnected structures.

2. Economic organization, especially the ownership of property, determines the organization of the rest of society

3. While the basic categories and analysis of functionalism are accepted, traditional functionalism fails to explain the dynamism of social systems.

4. Inherent in social organizations are contradictions which cause their opposite. Hence, conflict is inherent.

5. Systems are not necessarily at their healthiest in a static equilibrium.

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Theoretical Influences: At-Risk students


1. What are the characteristics of the dropout Population?2. What role do dropouts, as a group, play in the social system

of the school?3. To what extent does dropping out serve to remove from

schools those student for whom formal schooling is inappropriate or wasteful of public resources?

Interaction 1. How do the patterns of interaction between teachers and students lead students to define themselves as failures?

Exchange Theory

1. What are the costs and benefits of staying in school to the at-risk student?

2. How do at-risk students calculate the decision to drop out?

Conflict theory

1. What are the social class origins of dropouts and at-risk students?

2. To what extent are disadvantaged students overrepresented among dropouts?

3. What structural sources of inequality lead to tension between students and teacher?

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Collecting and Analyzing Field Notes

Interactive Methods Non Interactive Methods Artifact and Physical Trace Collection

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Interactive Field Notes Key-informant interviewing Career histories

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Non Interactive Frameworks: What to Look and Listen For

Who is in the group or scene? How many people are there, and what

are their kinds, identities, and relevant characteristics?

How is membership in the group or scene acquired?

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Non Interactive Frameworks: What to Look and Listen For What is happening here?

What are the people in the group or scene doing and saying to one another?

What behaviors are repetitive, and which occur irregularly? In what events, activities, or routines are participants engaged?

What resources are used in these activities, and how are they allocated?

How are activities organized, labeled, explained, and justified?

What differing social contexts can be identified?

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Non Interactive Frameworks: What to Look and Listen For What is happening here?

How do the people in the group behave toward one another?

What is the nature of this participation and interaction?

How are the people connected or related to one another?

What statuses and roles are evident in this interaction?

Who makes what decisions for whom?How do the people organize themselves for


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Non Interactive Frameworks: What to Look and Listen For What is happening here?

What is the content of participant’s conversations?What subjects are common, and which are rare?What stories, anecdotes, and homilies do they

exchange?What verbal and nonverbal languages do they use

to communicate?What beliefs do the content of their conversations

demonstrate? What formats do the conversations follow? What processes do they reflect? Who talks and who listens?

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Non Interactive Frameworks: What to Look and Listen For

Where is the group or scene located? What physical settings and environments form

their contexts? What natural resources are evident, and what

technologies are created or used? How does the group allocate and use space and

physical objects? What is consumed, and is produced? What sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures

are found in the contexts that the group uses?

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Non Interactive Frameworks: What to Look and Listen For

When does the group meet and interact?

How often are these meetings, and how lengthy are they?

How does the group conceptualize, use, and distribute time?

How do participants view the past, present, and future?

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Non Interactive Frameworks: What to Look and Listen For How are the identified elements connected or

interrelated, either from the participants’ point of view or from the researcher’s perspective?

How is stability maintained? How does change originate, and how is it managed?

How are the identified elements organized? What rules, norms, or mores govern this social

organization? How is power conceptualized and dsistributed? How is this group related to other groups,

organizations, or institutions?

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Non Interactive Frameworks: What to Look and Listen For

Why does the group operate as it does? What meanings do participants attribute

to what they do? What is the group’s history? What goals are articulated in the group? What symbols, traditions, values and

world views can be found in the group?

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Artifact Collections Artifacts obtained from archives and

demographic and archival data banks Artifacts obtained by following

connections among non symbolic materials, physical trace collection.

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Demographic and Archival Data Bases

Records of minutes Collection of teacher guides and

textbooks (discrepancies between stated objectives and what is taught or social and philosophical biases)

Attendance records Community news papers Health and employment data

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Physical Trace Collection Physical trace collecting looks for the

erosion and accretion Questions might include what equipment

is used the most—thus requires the most repair---according to records? What equipment is ignored?

What materials remain in closets covered with dust?

Who has access to equipment? The garbage dump approach to

collecting data

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Field Notes Inscription Transcription Description

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Inscription Scratch notes Scratch notes thus produce field notes proper,

usually produced in a chronological order. These are rendered completely as possible.

Journals that record the researcher’s thinking and reflection on events recorded on the field notes. Sometimes this gets ignored but journaling captures thinking that can be archived and pulled out later and avoids memory loss.

Audio tapes and video tapes which can be transcripted

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Transcription Return to theory and examine field notes

through that lens. Allow theory to develop through your field notes. This is where the researcher builds understanding from notes, interviews, and artifacts.

Compare, contrast, aggregate and order your notes.

What is narrative, germane to the story being told, and what is just talk?

What function does the non narrative “just talk” perform?

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The Day Begins—Excerpt from Field Notes8:558:57

Getting Settled

“Come in, girls first.” (There’s some messing around before they line up.) (They come in and move toward their seats.) (T) “Mrs. Smith is ready to start.” (She’s sitting on the desk in the front of the room.) (R) “Mrs. Smith is waiting.” (R) “I like the way Bernie is sitting down, and Atocha.” (R) “Please, people, do not throw snowballs at one another.” (R) “There isn’t enough snow on the ground and you pick up rocks with it. If we have a lot of snow we’ll have a snowball fight but please don’t throw snow when there isn’t much. . .”(R)


Getting Organized

“All right, the girls will go to bake cookies at recess.”(W) “Boys, come back here if you aren’t done; if you can’t work alone you can go into Mrs. Dvorak’s game room.” (W) “I expect if you come in here to work I expect you to work.” (R) R = Rule

T = Time/ScheduleW= Work/Tasks