acrl podcast 3

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Know Your Users : 

Know Your Users Podcast 3 Ethnographic Methods for Libraries

Direct Observation : 

Direct Observation Actively observing and recording the events, objects, activities and people at a particular place and time Some things to record: Physical space People within the space Activities and movements among people Specific words spoken Nonverbal interaction Your reactions to what you’re observing and experiencing Record things even if they seem obvious or inconsequential Take detailed Fieldnotes

Some Ways to Observe: : 

3 Mapping – Where are objects and people located? Counting – How many things and people are present? Conversations – Who’s talking? When? Who leads the conversation? Practices – What are people doing? Experiences –Allow yourself to experience the place/event, and note your reactions. Explaining –Be prepared to tell people what you’re doing and why. Some Ways to Observe:

Summarizing your Observation : 

4 As you review your notes: Examine the activity and its steps. Try to understand its “story line” Identify component segments of events/actions. Try to differentiate components that are regular from ones that vary. Look for variations that reflect differences in people’s status or roles. Look for differences resulting from seasonality, time of day, time in semester, etc. Look for “exceptions” ( “mistakes,” “poor manners,” “insults,” etc.) Summarizing your Observation

Limits to Observation : 

5 Personal characteristics of the observer (gender, age, socioeconomic background) Observer’s training and research interests/orientation Length of time an observer spends in the field Limits to Observation

Writing Fieldnotes : 

Writing Fieldnotes Not just notes, but an analytical tool Capture as much as possible, as soon as possible (in the long run, more is usually better, and a lot more is a lot better) No single right way

Fieldnotes: One Method : 

Fieldnotes: One Method “Two-column” format: Using only the right-hand side of a notebook, write observations, descriptions, quotations, and anything else you find pertinent to your research. These are descriptive fieldnotes. Be sure to number and date your pages. When you are finished with a section, read back through you notes. Then, in the left-hand side of the notebook write commentary about the analytic meaning of your notes, additional research questions you have, and things that you need to follow up on. These are called analytic and methodological fieldnotes. Most word processing software be adapted to follow this format (I’ve successfully used Microsoft’s OneNote). However, I find it is almost always useful to keep at least a basic research log in paper format. For more detailed discussion, see H. Russell Bernard, Research Methods in Anthropology (Ch. 4 in 3rd ed.) and Roger Sanjek, Fieldnotes.

Interviewing : 

Interviewing The bread and butter of qualitative research. . . Flexible Adaptable All-around method

Types of Interviews : 

Types of Interviews Unstructured Conversational. Interviewer guides participant, but allows significant latitude. Semi-structured List of topics Follows topics flexibly Follows up on interesting responses. Most common method, especially for teams Structured Exactly the same questions in a given order Often includes closed-ended questions

Developing Interview Questions : 

Developing Interview Questions Topics/Subtopics to cover. Level of detail: To answer you research question. To include in reports/recommendations Be specific. Ask questions about actual experiences

Research Process Interviews : 

Research Process Interviews A simple and highly effective technique. Can be adapted to any directly observable process Actual, real-time practices rather than reported events

Cognitive Maps : 

Cognitive Maps A fast surveying technique Six minutes to draw a map of the library from memory Colors changed every two minutes (Blue, Green, Red) Completed away from the library 14

Photo Survey : 

Photo Survey Provide context in which a process is happening Respondents loaned a camera and asked to take a set of photos An elicitation method: Follow‐up interviews ask participants to describe and respond to photos Interview is more important than the photos themselves Additional software is helpful(e.g. Photostory, Storyrobe, iMovie) This list reproduced from Studying Students by Foster and Gibbons (2007)

Mapping Diary : 

Mapping Diary Each respondent is given a set of maps of campus Asked to mark the course of her/his movements during one academic day Note the times and places he/she visited and the purpose for going there. Participant is interviewed to debrief the day’s events. Day-to-day student life. See also Studying Students

Combined Photo/Mapping Diaries : 

Combined Photo/Mapping Diaries Ask participants to take a photograph at predetermined intervals (e.g. every hour) Ask participants to take a photo of each place they go during a day Utilize GPS enabled cameras/Smartphones to create maps

Retrospective Research : 

Retrospective Research Interview Step-by-step account of how participant completed an assignment Participant draws each step on a large sheet of paper Produces a narrative and a visual account 19

Ethnographic Methods : 

Ethnographic Methods Things to remember: Record everything video audio Transcribe everything This will help with analysis Borrow methods from other studies Don’t be afraid to innovate Utilize human resources (including me)

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