Ethnographic Research

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Definition and purpose of ethnographic research Key concepts and terms Ethnographic data collection techniques

*This presentation is based on the following references: 1. A power point presentation on educational research chapter 17 Ethnographic Research by Gay, Mills, and Airasian (online presentation and an on line quiz on chapter 17 http://wps.prenhall.com/chet_airasian_edresearch_8/0,11083,2527081-,00 2. A lesson plan by G. David Garson for Spring 2008 in http://www2.chass.ncsu.edu/garson/PA765/pa765syl.htm 3. Johnson, D. M. (1992). Approaches to Research in Second Language Learning. New York: Longman.

Definition and Purpose

Ethnographic research

Definition

A qualitative approach that studies the cultural patterns and perspectives of participants in their natural settings To describe, analyze, and interpret the culture of a group over time to understand the group’s shared beliefs, behaviors, and language
Objectives 1.1 & 1.2

Purpose

Definition and Purpose

Ethnographic research

Culture is the set of shared attitudes, values, concepts, beliefs, and practices that can be attributed to the members of the group being studied

Three broad areas to help focus on tangible cultural behaviors
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Cultural orientation – where the people are situated Cultural know-how – how a group goes about daily activities Cultural beliefs – why a group does what it does
Objective 1.3

Note
Unlike experimental research that rely on tests and questionnaires, ethnographic researchers rely on themselves. They are the major instruments of data collection since they collect their data through fieldwork (watching/observing and asking/interviewing).

Practice
Which of the following would be included in a definition of ethnographic research?

A quantitative approach that studies cultural patterns of participants A quantitative and qualitative approach that studies cultural diversity A qualitative approach that studies the cultural patterns and perspectives of participants A qualitative approach that examines a group's cultural diversity

Practice
A set of shared attitudes, concepts, beliefs, and practices that can be attributed to the members a group being studied is a definition of their  
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Norms Culture Mores values.

Practice
Which of the following would you expect to see in an ethnographic study? 
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A description of the culture of the group over time An analysis of the culture of the group over time An interpretation of the culture of the group over time All of these

Practice
Christian fundamentalists are known to believe in a strict adherence to biblical teachings. This exemplifies which of the tangible cultural behaviors discussed by the authors?  
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Cultural Cultural Cultural Cultural

orientation know-how beliefs taboos

Key Concepts and Terms
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Macro-ethnography Micro-ethnography Emic perspective Etic perspective Symbols Cultural patterning


Tacit knowledge
A key informant

Key Concepts and Terms

Macro-ethnography is the study of broadlydefined cultural groupings, such as "the English" or "New Yorkers.“ Micro-ethnography is the study of narrowlydefined cultural groupings, such as "local government GIS specialists" or "members of Congress." Emic perspective is the ethnographic research approach to the way the members of the given culture perceive their world. The emic perspective is usually the main focus of

Key Concepts and Terms

Etic perspective, is the ethnographic research approach to the way non-members (outsiders) perceive and interpret behaviors and phenomena associated with a given culture. Symbols, always a focus of ethnographic research, are any material artifact of a culture, such as art, clothing, or even technology. The ethnographer strives to understand the cultural connotations associated with symbols. Technology, for instance, may be interpreted in terms of how it relates to an implied plan to bring about a different desired state for the

Key Concepts and Terms

Cultural patterning is the observation of cultural patterns forming relationships involving two or more symbols. Ethnographic research is holistic, believing that symbols cannot be understood in isolation but instead are elements of a whole. One method of patterning is conceptual mapping, using the terms of members of the culture themselves to relate symbols across varied forms of behavior and in varied contexts. Another method is to focus on learning processes, in order to understand how a culture transmits what it perceives to be important across generations.

Key Concepts and Terms

Cultural patterning (continued): A third method is to focus on sanctioning processes, in order to understand which cultural elements are formally (ex., legally) prescribed or proscribed and which are informally prescribed or proscribed, and of these which are enforced through sanction and which are unenforced.

Key Concepts and Terms

Tacit knowledge is deeply-embedded cultural beliefs which are assumed in a culture's way of perceiving the world, so much so that such knowledge is rarely or never discussed explicitly by members of the culture, but rather must be inferred by the ethnographer.

Key Concepts and Terms

A key informant is “an individual in whom one invests a disproportionate amount of time because that individual appears to be particularly well informed, articulate, approachable, or available” (Wolcott,1988, p. 159 cited in Johnson (1992) chapter 6).

Ethnographic Techniques

Three major techniques
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Triangulation Participant observation Field notes

Objective 5.1

Ethnographic Techniques

Triangulation

Collecting data using many sources rather than a single one Multiple sources
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Interviews Observations Artifacts

Ethnographic Techniques

Triangulation (continued)
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Multiple informants Consistency across sources and informants creates a stronger understanding of what is truly going on

Objectives 5.1 & 5.2

Ethnographic Techniques

Participant observation

The researcher is immersed in the research setting in order to get close to those studied as a way of understanding what their experiences and activities mean to them

Ethnographic Techniques

Participant observation (continued)

Two purposes
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To observe the activities, people, and physical aspects of a situation To engage in activities that provide useful information in a given situation Active participant observer – active engagement Privileged active observer – engaged in a more active, privileged manner such as teaching a lesson Passive observer – little, if any, engagement
Objectives 5.3 & 5.4

Three varying degrees of participation
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Ethnographic Techniques

Participant observation (continued)

Recommended social behaviors

Negotiating entrance into the setting requires the researcher to be able to clearly describe the purpose, plan, and constraints likely associated with the research Reciprocity requires the researcher to move between formal and informal ways of interacting with participants
Objective 5.5

Ethnographic Techniques

Recommended social behaviors (continued)

The researcher must have a tolerance for ambiguity The researcher must have personal determination coupled with a faith in oneself

Objective 5.5

Ethnographic Techniques

Field notes

A record of the researcher’s understanding of the lives, people, and events that are the focus of the research The link between field notes and the research
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What is observed is ultimately treated as data When writing field notes researchers Objective 5.6 should give particular attention to the

Ethnographic Techniques

The link between field notes and the research (continued)

Field notes provide essential grounding for writing broader, more coherent accounts of others’ lives and concerns Field notes detail the social and interactional processes that make up people’s everyday lives and activities
Objective 5.6

Ethnographic Techniques

Recommendations for observing and recording field notes
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Make mental notes and record them as soon as possible after observing Jot down key information
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Capture key words and phrases without a lot of explanation Use a mnemonic device to help reconstruct the observed events
Objective 5.7

Ethnographic Techniques

Recommendations (continued)

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Don’t worry about grammar or other rules Trace what you did during the day Avoid the temptation to recreate dialogue Describe as completely and accurately as you can all relevant aspects of the observation Objective 5.7

Ethnographic Techniques

Recommendations (continued)

Record your personal reactions (i.e., reflective field notes) Observe and record everything you possibly can Observe and look for nothing in particular Look for “bumps” or paradoxes
Objective 5.7

Practice
Interviewing administrators, teachers, and staff in a school is an example of which of the following ethnographic techniques? 
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Differentiation Triangulation Participant observation Tolerance

Practice
Which level of participation describes a researcher who observes in a classroom and completes the Stallings Time-on-Task Snapshot, a checklist of student and teacher behavior? 
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active participant observer passive observer privileged active observer voluntary observer

Practice
In utilizing participant observation as an ethnographic technique, the researcher needs to be aware of which of the following purposes of participant observation? 

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Observation of not only the people but the activities and physical aspects of a situation Reciprocity of the research in any situation Tolerance of ambiguity A personal relationship with all stakeholders

Practice
Reciprocity requires the researcher to move between formal and informal ways of reciprocating with participants. This is an example of 
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a recommended method of triangulation. levels of participation. social behaviors. degrees of participant observation.

Practice
In her observations at the Charter School in a local parish, Ms. LeBlanc records her initial impressions, makes mental notes, and draws pictures of the classroom interactions. This process is known as 
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participant observation. recording field notes. ethnographic jargon. random observation and notes.

Practice
The link between field notes and research is important because 
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what is observed is ultimately treated as data. field notes provide an essential grounding for writing broader, more coherent accounts of others' life concerns. field notes detail social and interaction processes that make up people's everyday lives. all of these.

Practice

Which of the following is NOT one of the recommendations for observing and recording field notes?  Avoid the temptation to recreate dialogue Pay attention to spelling and grammar Record personal reflections Look for paradoxes

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