A full-blown paper may not always be the best way to assess what they have learned. I have found a few ways around the “too much” dilemma.For example, in my large linguistic anthropology course, exams are mandatory.
A full-blown paper may not always be the best way to assess what they have learned. I have found a few ways around the “too much” dilemma.
I would love to hear from others who experiment with “hands-on” approaches in sociocultural and linguistic anthropology. Explore Sending students out into the world is less institutionally daunting than it may seem.
Course theme and coincidence largely guide my choice as to how to structure where students will do their observations.
I have framed the essay question to be answerable with their collected data.
I let them bring in a single page of notes and leave it up to them to decide whether that page has “raw” or “cooked” data (thanks Laura! This spares them writing an exam separate from a paper, and provides mental relief (for me, too).
Part Two of “Teaching Culture and Methods to Novice/Non-Anthropologists” In my last post, I made the case for having students attempt ethnographic papers in courses other than “methods.” By introducing early undergraduates to the pleasures of ethnography, I think we showcase anthropology’s strong suit, but more importantly, I think it is a great way to scaffold them into ways of writing and reading that will serve them well in both the social sciences and the humanities.
In this second post, I share the steps I go through to squeeze an ethnographic experience into what are admittedly short, one-term courses (12 weeks).The less they put into the notes the harder it is for me to pull a paper out.First-time ethnographic papers feel a bit like grabbing a rabbit out of a hat—there is some degree of hocus pocus involved.This “open” reading strategy is a gamble, but I get good feedback on the approach.The requirement for the final assignment is to put their field materials into conversation with the targeted reading, and any others from the course.There are great sources out there on writing field notes. My preference is to have students read thematic content, and so I accept that the exercise of writing an ethnographic paper for early undergraduates is an incomplete introduction to fieldwork.Instead of readings, I show them student samples I find online from similar courses and I share my own field notes.In linguistic anthropology I have them choose a “Community of Practice” which is pretty wide open and can mean anything from drag queens to gym rats.In a third year Politics of Indigeneity course, I had students watch patrons pass through (or not) the Aboriginal Canadian exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum.This usually means a topic they weren’t planning on.These are the best moments if they are open to the chase. Group Once I see the themes of the papers emerge, I group students into research communities.