Identify your subject• Be specific; define your subject with unique characteristics Nowhere else in the world can we find the array or number of geysers, hot spring, mud pots, and fumaroles found in Yellowstone.
Background• Tell your reader WHY this subject is worth talking about. As an American, I was raised to believe that the simple act of passing one’s soles across a nubbly plastic mat sporting a cute syaing will somehow dislodge an accumulated eight hours of filth, muck, and germs…The Japanese remove their shoes at the door.
Assembly• Chronologically 1:00• Most surprising discovery 2:30• Most important observation 4:00 6:15
Details, details, details!• Show your reader what you saw by providing concrete details. Three more dollars earned you a trip to the salad bar – featuring Lady Lee peas, which the cook poured expressionlessly from the can. They made a gentle splattering sound as they slid into the copious salad-bar vat.
Big Picture• Place your observations in the larger context of your field. What questions are left unanswered? How are your results atypical? I realized that I had unknowingly committed the most egregious of cultural misunderstandings. Forget the glaring red bouquet, my self-conscious sobs, or my battle with the chicken feet; I have absolutely no idea whose funeral I attended.
Being objective• Know your purpose and audience• Social science observations vs. descriptive essays of a personal experience
Visuals• Again – know your purpose and audience• Visuals can work nicely in combination with written observations.
Observation Assignment• Using worksheets, take notes while you observe an area on campus. You will observe the area AT LEAST twice (you may do more if you want) for 30-60 min.• Write a one page (double –spaced) summary of what you observed. Consider how the two observations differ or are the same. What might we learn from this?• Bring this to class on Tuesday along with your notes.