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ENG 120: Visual Rhetorical Analysis and Ethnography Research

Field Work & Ethnography Assignment

For the Ethnography assignment, students will develop journal entries in which they will (1) observe a specific cultural community; (2) produce and reflect on collected notes that consider how the community functions within varied digital spaces; and, (3) determine patterns which yield topics for further secondary research.

In the boxes below, you will find videos and text that will explore conducting field work and reports.

Analysis of Ethnographic Observation

Always place the analysis and interpretations of your field observations within the larger context of the theories and issues you described in the introduction. Part of your responsibility in analyzing the data is to determine which observations are worthy of comment and interpretation, and which observations are more general in nature. It is your theoretical framework that allows you to make these decisions. You need to demonstrate to the reader that you are looking at the situation through the eyes of an informed viewer, not as a lay person.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when analyzing your observations:

  • What is the meaning of what you have observed?
  • Why do you think what you observed happened? What evidence do you have for your reasoning?
  • What events or behaviors were typical or widespread? If appropriate, what was unusual or out of ordinary? How were they distributed among categories of people?
  • Do you see any connections or patterns in what you observed?
  • Why did the people you observed proceed with an action in the way that they did? What are the implications of this?
  • Did the stated or implicit objectives of what you were observing match what was achieved?
  • What were the relative merits of the behaviors you observed?
  • What were the strengths and weaknesses of the observations you recorded?
  • Do you see connections between what you observed and the findings of similar studies identified from your review of the literature?
  • Have you learned anything from what you observed?

(Source: "Writing a Field Report" at

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