Introducing ethnography to students

pottery and weaving implements
Kabyle arts on display at a Berber cultural association in Paris

Many (if not most!) undergraduate students in Modern Languages or other Humanities disciplines will not have heard of ‘ethnography’ and may not know what it means to carry out research using ‘ethnographic methods’. In our experience, students tend to associate ethnography with more general forms of qualitative research, seeing interviews, questionnaires or focus groups as the main means of gathering data.

As part of the Ethnographic Encounters project we aimed to deepen students’ understanding of what it means to ‘do ethnography’ in order to encourage them to go beyond their comfort zones and actively participate in the setting of their Residence Abroad. One of our training sessions before the year abroad was called ‘Doing Ethnography’ and was designed as a Question and Answer session, with brief presentations by staff members based on their own research and experience, and then questions from students about using ethnographic methods in their projects.

This format worked well as students had already been given a brief introduction to ethnography and ethnographic methods in the Year Abroad preparation module required of all second-year students. For students who are unfamiliar with ethnography and ethnographic methods, we have put together the below Powerpoint presentation as a brief introduction to ethnography. We would also recommend inserting your own (or colleagues’) experiences with using ethnographic methods to give students a sense of the types of questions and issues that emerge in doing ethnographic research.

Related documents (click to download file)

Introducing ethnography presentation

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