As part of researching issues
in your professional context, you will conduct a 45-minute to 1-hour observation
of a site relevant to your professional context.
An important component of your observation is taking detailed field notes
using the "Field Notes Sheet" provided as a downloadable link. You should
transcribe your handwritten field notes using the same format as soon
as possible after conducting the observation so that you do not forget
Please see "Example Field Notes Transcript"
node for more information on writing up your observation.
your site selection
Because your observation is intended to provide you with further insight
into relationships within your professional context, you should choose
your site purposefully. Use the following criteria to determine which
site, organization, or event you will observe:
Accessibility in terms of geography.
in terms of scheduling for the project.
Relevance to your professional context.
Relevance to the data you have collected thus far.
for your role as an observer
Before conducting your observation, you must consider what your how
your role as an observer will affect your observation. Use the following
questions as guides to consider your role:
How familiar are you with this site?
you regular participant or relative outsider?
Why have you chosen to observe this site rather than other possible
and activities do you expect to see when you visit this site?
How do your experiences within your field shape your expectations?
How does the research you have conducted for this project
shape your expectations?
The observation allows you to research the dynamic relationships in
your field as they function within a particular site, event, or organization.
Such research can provide examples for your analysis of issues within
your professional context. Before conducting your observation, use the
following considerations to frame your data collection.
of the space
The layout of a particular site limits the possibilities for ways in
which its space can be used. Consider not only the architecture of the
particular site but also map this site in relationship to other spaces
within your professional context.
among persons and objects
The site you will observe contains particular people and particular
objects which have dynamic relationships with one another. Consider
how these inhabitants are positioned in relation to one another and
how their use of certain objects effects and reveals those positionings.
Within your selected site, consider the ways in which resources are
allocated. Decisions are made about how money is spent and how objects
are valued differently. Look for cues that reveal relationships between
the status and authority of certain persons and their access to and
control over certain materials and resources.
The site that you select already is defined as "professional," but professional
has different meanings in different settings. Thus, consider how professional
is defined within this particular site. Look for cues that reveal the
both the general atmosphere as well as subtle changes within that atmosphere.
Using the "Field Notes Sheet" form provided, record as much detail as
you possibly can during the time of your observation. During your visit,
you should be writing continuously and making note of everything that
you see and hear. In the "Details" column of the sheet, record information
about the geography of the space, relations among persons and objects,
resource expenditures, and atmosphere or tone of the site. In the "Reflections"
column of the sheet, note how particular details relate to the issues
As soon as possible after completing your observation, type-up a transcript
of your notes using the "Field Notes" sheet. Take this as an opportunity
to add additional details you were not able to record. Also, elaborate
on your reflections, strengthening connections between the details you
observed and issues in your professional context.
Remember to use the downloadable Word form
to complete your field notes transcript.
Consult the calendar
for observation and field notes scheduling and deadlines.
Professional Contexts Project Links:
Formatting Reference | Project
2 Overview | Interview | Example
Interview | Example Field
Notes | Data
Coding | Example Data Coding | Contextual
Analysis Plan & Report
421 syllabus | 421