I would love to hear from others who experiment with “hands-on” approaches in sociocultural and linguistic anthropology. Explore Sending students out into the world is less institutionally daunting than it may seem.
Course theme and coincidence largely guide my choice as to how to structure where students will do their observations.
They almost always cluster well, with only one or two real outliers.
In larger classes, I reorganize tutorial groups by these shared interests.
These don’t take long and are a nice break from lecture.
I do these exercises along with them so they can see that thoughts wander and some pieces will be good, while others need work—lots of work.
Reading my notes out loud lets students see that while some observations seem like they aren’t about anything, over time they can become the basis of an idea or argument.
They also see how my notes sound “like me” and that this is just fine.
There are great sources out there on writing field notes. My preference is to have students read thematic content, and so I accept that the exercise of writing an ethnographic paper for early undergraduates is an incomplete introduction to fieldwork.
Instead of readings, I show them student samples I find online from similar courses and I share my own field notes.