#storyf17 Fieldnotes Assignment

Assignment Overview

This assignment is informed by the following course objectives:

Objective 1: Storytelling
Students will understand the principles and practices of effective storytelling and be able to create media objects which effectively apply storytelling principles and techniques for desired rhetorical and communication goals.

Objective 2: Research
Students will understand the critical role of research in storytelling, including but not limited to texts and techniques associated with interviewing, observing, and photographing.

Objective 3: Communication Design
Students will be able to identify and employ a range of effective communication strategies to navigate audience, purpose, and context and will understand and apply human centered design approaches to communicating through digital media.

Objective 4: Risk-taking
Students will know what it feels like to step out of their comfort zones and take risks with their approaches to and understanding of investigation, design, and digital storytelling.

Objective 5: Reflection
Students will develop their understanding of the important role of reflection during the investigation, design, and communication process.

Assignment Specifics

To complete this assignment, I would like you to plan THREE 30- to 60-minute outings to the space or spaces relating to your investigation location and record extensive fieldnotes consciously employing a variety of fieldnotes methods. You should be able to provide evidence of your three outings by posting a photo of yourself in the space (or just the space) to Twitter or Instagram with the #storyf17 hashtag.

These notes should be in a small notebook that is inconspicuous and can easily fit in your pocket—that is, not the usual 8×10 sized notebook. Do not use a phone, tablet, or computer. The structure of your notes should be informed by what we have read in Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes, and in particular Chapter 2, where Participating, Observing, and Jotting are discussed in great detail. It should also be informed by the practice run we completed on February 23 in Campion Student Center.

A significant part of the fieldnote process is transcribing those fieldnotes. As such, each student is required to transcribe their fieldnotes using Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes as a guide. Transcriptions lead to directly to the alphabetic portion of your digital story and therefore are very important. It is also very important to create the transcriptions immediately after returning home from creating the jottings (or as soon as possible after).

Most of these fieldnotes and transcriptions will be for your own benefit. However, each student is required to create 1 extended blog post in which you complete the following:

  1. Scan or photograph and upload a set of jottings, from one outing or series of related outings. If you took any photographs during that outing, add those as well.
  2. Transcribe all jottings, observations, reflections, and so on, into sentences that are more legible, understandable, and as detailed as possible. Put this content under a bold-printed heading labeled Transcriptions. See the examples on pages 52 – 57 (under the heading “Recalling in Order to Write”) for what you should do. Note how many sentences come from just a few lines of jottings.
  3. Create a distinct scene under the bold-printed heading labeled Scene. Use the methods outlined in chapters 3 (starting at the bottom of page 57 under the heading, “Writing Detailed Notes: Descriptions of Scenes”) in Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes.
  4. Reflect on what you have learned during that outing or series of outings, what further questions you have, and where you will be going next. Discuss what you thought was successful about the outing and what you might have done differently. Also consider which portions of the readings informed how you have approached the fieldnotes and your transcriptions of them. Put this content under a bold-printed heading labeled Reflections.

Former student fieldnotes blog posts which you should use as models for your own (note the assignment was structured differently so you might not see Scenes headings in these posts; you also may see photographs, though you are not required to include any):

Due Dates

  • 10/5 – 10/27: Field outings must be conducted during this window; do not complete them before
  • 11/6: Fieldnotes blog post must be completed by 9:00am

To Go Significantly Beyond the Required Coursework

As part of the Grading Criteria, to obtain an A in the course, you must “demonstrate activity that goes significantly beyond the required course work in one or more course objectives.”

Here are a few ways you might be able to demonstrate going beyond the required coursework through the use of video work in addition to the main video assignment:

  • Post 2 blog posts in the format described above
  • Make one of your visits a photography visit and use the techniques advocated by Pink in “Photography in Ethnographic Research” (see the Readings page). Compose a blog post in which you use 8 – 10 photos, explaining how you would like each to be read or understood.
  • something else you come up with :-)

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