Practice Exercises

1. Conduct a brief observational study in a public location on campus where students congregate. A cafeteria, a building lobby, or a lounge would be ideal. You can sit and observe, taking occasional notes unobtrusively, without violating any expectations of privacy. Observe for 30 minutes. Write up field notes, being sure to include a description of the setting and a commentary on your own behavior and your reactions to what you observed.

2. Develop an interview guide that focuses on a research question addressed in one of the studies in this book. Using this guide, conduct an intensive interview with one person who is involved with the topic in some way. Take only brief notes during the interview, and then write up as complete a record of the interview as soon as you can immediately afterward. Turn in an evaluation of your performance as an interviewer and note taker, together with your notes.

3. Devise a plan for using a focus group to explore and explain student perspectives on some current event. How would you recruit students for the group? What types of students would you try to include? How would you introduce the topic and the method to the group? What questions would you ask? What problems would you anticipate, such as discord between focus group members or digressions from the chosen topic? How would you respond to these problems?

4. Complete the Interactive Exercise for Chapter 10. 

5. Review postings to an online discussion group. How could you study this group using digital ethnography? What challenges would you encounter?