GET: Mini-Ethnographies

Further to Adam’s post on writing suggestions for the GET mini-ethnographies here are some more detailed guidelines.

At its most simplistic, an ethnography (noun version) is a written account of a culture based on first hand interaction. It is an attempt to both understand and give an account of another culture from the “native’s” point of view—that is from the view of the person living in that culture. Ethnographies tend to cover all aspects of a culture from traditions, to family, to religion, etc. For this paper you are going to write a “mini” ethnography. You are expected to use the information you gained through first-hand interaction with your partner(s) and their classmates to write a short ethnographic account about a particular aspect of your partner’s culture. You may write on any aspect of your partner country’s culture that you choose, but keep in mind, since you must get the information from your partner and his/her classmates, it must be something that they are willing to talk about.

For this paper, you should explore the topic of your choice in depth. To get the information you need, you, as the ethnographer, must use ethnographic inquiry to get the information required. That is, ask your partner and his/her classmates lots of questions about the topic. When they answer those questions, ask them to further explain and elaborate. The idea behind this is to get a good understanding of not just what is going on in the other society, but why it is the way it is. You will be able to do some of this through your chat sessions and video linking, but e-mail interaction will also be an important tool for this task.

The paper will be no longer than 3 (double-spaced) pages. Here is a general guideline for the format of the paper—keep in mind, these are only guidelines:

  • General introduction to topic and country (1 -2 paragraphs)
  • Descriptive and explanatory account of the topic in question. (1.5 – 2 pages): What is going on here? Why is this important? How do they explain it? What does it mean to them?
  • Reflection and Conclusion (1 – 1.5 pages)How does this particular topic you covered help us understand their culture in general? How does it compare to what you are used to?

Once you complete your paper submit a copy to your T.A.  and send a copy to your partner (be sure to CC your T.A. on this e-mail). Your partner should then write a short response to your paper (a few paragraphs is fine—this can be done through e-mail) in which they evaluate your paper and explain what parts you got right and what parts you misunderstood or need clarification. Your professor will also provide you with feedback. Once you get this feedback, you are then to rewrite your original paper to address the issues your partner and T.A. raised and resubmit that final draft along with your partner’s comments to your T.A.


Quiz Writing

Here’s the deal -it takes work to answer a quiz or an exam.  However, it’s not simply how much time you put in, it’s really about learning how to study smart. Sometimes we can find ourselves spending lots and lots of time  preparing for something but not get anything accomplished.  To be able to manage a full load of university courses, a life beyond class, maybe a job, etc, means being able to studying effectively and not waste your time.

Smart Study means listening to what is said in class (remember the blog on ‘what’s the prof want anyway?).  The lecture gives you the ROAD MAP to a satisfactory grade (for the mark inclined -that’s a C+/B-).  Read more, participate in tutorial discussions, ask questions in lecture, talk to your prof and TAs (we can be found fairly easily), generate questions as you read.  If you engage in smart study you will do okay.

The Quiz. As per comments in lecture over the past several weeks the quiz will draw from lecture and readings.  Also, you can find an outline of the quiz format on your course outline:

Format: Each quiz will have two basic sections.  The first will involve short, fill in the blank and/or matching type questions.  The second will involve answering a number of paragraph type questions.  For this section there will typically be a set of four or five possible questions from which students will select two or three to answer in the space provided.

One of the hard things about a first time experience with university examination is that unlike highschool the structure and content of the test isn’t laid out for you or served up on a platter.  You will have to work at it, but the signs are fairly clear.

  1. Course outlines have headings and assigned readings under those headings.  Read the heading. For our first unit the main heading is:  “The Tools of Anthropology.”  This should give a student a really clear indicator of the primary learning goal of the unit -that is, you are learning about the tools involved in doing anthropology.  Some among you might say, what do you mean by tools?  Okay, I guess that’s a fair question.  Tools, from the way we have been talking about it in class are about how it is that anthropologists do what ever it is we do.  It would seem that this involves research (called fieldwork in anthropology), key concepts (i.e. conceptual tools used in doing anthropology), and some basic understanding that there are several types of anthropology.
  2. Lectures have structure -take notes following the lecture structure. Sometimes it might seem hard to figure out what to take notes on -everything?  or, just the important things?  (but then ‘what is important’?).  When a prof uses powerpoint or overheads it makes your job as a student a little bit easier.  Normally we (that profs) select key words or phrases that highlight what we have decided are the most important of critical issues.  Thus, your job of figuring out what is ‘important’ is made easier.
  3. Now put readings and lectures together. Compare your notes of lecture with your notes from the readings.  If you are a habitual highlighter -consider locking your highlight pen away and opening up a notebook in which you write into it the key ideas from the things you read; don’t waste your time highlighting  everything in the text book.  By the time you’ve finished highlighting your book will likely look like a rainbow.
  4. Finally, if you haven’t been reading along as per the course outline you will find it harder to speed read and catch the wave in time for your quiz.  Of course, there are those among us who can read the textbook the night before and do okay (or even great).  But for the majority of us doing well on a quiz, a term paper, or an exam is the product of smart study and hard work.

More info on exams and exam writing can be found under the ‘exam’ tag.