Tag Archives: Methods

Getting inside people’s heads via ethnographic and phenomenological interviews

Distinctions between ethnographic and phenomenological interviews are profound and extremely important to maintain. In Research Decisions, Palys & Atchison allocate just two introductory pages to phenomenology, which is reframed as a philosophy of phenomenologism. Why is that?

In the glossary, P&A write that phenomenologism is “an approach to understanding whose adherents assert that we must ‘get inside people’s heads’ to understand how they perceive and interpret the world” (p. 425).

Can or should the phenomenologist or ethnographer ‘get inside people’s heads’? is this one of the purposes of research with human subjects via ethnographic and phenomenological methods? Add to this, historical methods, etc.?

In “Culture and Causality,” Fricke resolves at length:

It is true… that we cannot get inside people’s heads to actually know what motivates them or how they see the world. It is true, in other words, that we operate in terms of theories. But this is the same context within which we live our everyday lives. If I ask myself the ques- tion in my everyday dealings with people, “Why did she do that?,” I seek an answer as an attempt to understand that person’s view of the world, her motivations, and the concrete circumstances of a situation. I acknowledge, if I want to get as close to the true reasons as possible, that I might be wrong in my interpretation and that more information, or the reach for more consistency in light of the available information, may cause me to modify my initial understanding. If the thing I seek to explain is important, or if the person is particularly important to me, I may try to include information about her past history and wider networks of kin and association.

In some ways, anthropological fieldwork replicates this prosaic operation of the everyday. Our attempts at understanding are imaginative acts in which we try to get inside of the head of the cultural other. (pp. 476-477)

What do you think? Is this made obvious in research 2.0?

Googling is NOT College and Career Readiness

Paige Jaeger, LibraryDoor, April 25, 2014– This morning I received a desperate plea from a super-librarian who has seen her program go down-the-tubes with the arrival of one-on-one devices incorrectly implemented in silo-classrooms.   What a shame.  As a district adopts a new “writing program” with built-in research tasks, old tasks get dropped in order to accommodate new instructional models that have been crafted to increase someone’s bottom line. 

Ironically,  this school with a flexible schedule to allow for innovative learning endeavors, is reverting to a model of one-size-fits-all learning tasks demoralizing a cutting edge model of flexible scheduling to accommodate curriculum needs. 

If this sounds like your scenario, please wrap your head around a few poignant truths for advocacy.   These three teacher-assessment questions below are a great starting ground to discuss at faculty meetings, principal appointments or in the lunchroom.   Simple truths such as these may help to open research collaboration doors.   These are merely three of many possibilities, but are effective one-liners to help secure and maintain your foothold in research–in spite of new writing programs, learning modules, or other packaged products that arrive in your building! 


Inherent in transforming information is synthesis and a conclusion….  Transfer requires only reporting of data without deep understanding.  Most commercially-sold writing programs do not understand this.   If assignments don’t include an element of transforming information, they are low level thought and do NOT meet our state’s model of investigation nor the objectives of the Common Core.

We are living in an Age of Misinformation – not the information age. – Students need to learn how to access information as well as synthesize it to draw conclusions.  This is college and career readiness.  Not, finding information on Google or mere vetted websites and jotting those notes into a pro-forma document or virtual index cards….

At the New England Library Association conference where I help pre-conference PD a few weeks ago, I met many great librarians who also bemoaned this scenario.  We jokingly said we’d come up with a 12-Step program for recovery.  Well, we’ve done better than that!   We’ve boiled it down to 5 simple steps, because we know that brain research says the brain can’t remember more than 4 at a time!

  1. Administer the Google litmus test 
  2. Insert Essential Question at the beginning which will foster synthesis of those facts and conclusions 
  3. Require credible library resources to be used 
  4. Embed technology for engagement – somewhere 
  5. Insure that students have an opportunity to “present” their knowledge 

Now we really know that there is more to it than that, but these simple 5 will not scare them away from “Repackaging Research.”

Read More: Librarydoor.blogspot.ca

Is Googling Research?

One of the most pressing challenges for librarians and teachers is introducing students to research methods and processes. In the P12 system and post-secondary, teachers and supervisors take pains to distinguish between googling and research or between wikipedia and reliable sources. This often reduces to guidelines for smart Googling, elaborate “Research Methods Beyond Google,” or more lengthy cautions of plagiarism traps within search engines.

Similarly, cautions are raised about Wikipedia as an academic source or medical source (“Something you Should know Before Googling“) and critics love to point to founder Jimmy Wales’ infamous comment: “For God’s sake, you’re in college; don’t cite the encyclopedia.”

When Purcell et al.’s report on “How Teens Do Research in the Digital World” was released in 2012, no one was really surprised by the findings. The survey of over 2,000 middle and high school teachers found that ‘research’ for students means Googling. Two years later, few would argue that this has changed.

How can students be wrong? Google’s mission remains: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” And Google itself relies on Googling for “Google’s Hybrid Approach to Research.”