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Ethnographic Interview of International Student (Due Midnight 4/10)
This project gives you a chance to do a formal interview individually, analyze the data and, at the same time, learn something about how an international student views American culture, San Francisco and USF. Interviews are an important tool for discovering cultural understandings. Anthropologists learn about culture and values from often wide-ranging material collected in interviews. It is sometimes hard to do, as informants have a way of talking about things that interest them and simply gliding over the things that the anthropologist wants to know. Good interviewing requires maintaining a balance between just letting the informant talk and finding ways to get him or her to focus on the questions you want to pursue.
Interviewees may feel a bit nervous about being recorded at the beginning, but most quickly become unaware of its presence. Major benefits of recording is that you will not have to take detailed notes during the interview, which will free you to think of good follow-up questions and do a better job of directing the interview.
1.Beginning Thurs 3/8 Contact the student you want to interview (it must be someone you do not know) and arrange a date for the interview. Let he/she know it will take about an hour. Meet in a place of his or her convenience. If the student has doubts, assure him/her that the interview is anonymous, that nowhere will his/her name appear, and that you are doing the interview for a class assignment (and, hopefully, because you are interested in the experiences of international students at USF). Also offer to give the student a copy of your paper.
On 3/22 in class, you will form a study group, and each person in the group will create 10-15 questions that you would like to discuss with your interviewee. You should discuss the kinds of things you want to know in trying to understand the experiences of an international student in this culture. For example, in broad terms, why he/she came to America, and to USF. What he/she expected and how those expectations differ from what he/she found. His or her adjustment or adaptation? What has been difficult getting used to? Impressions of the U.S., of USF, and of American university education generally.
Organize the questions that you came up with in your study group into a proper interview guide – this is where you finalize your list of questions based on the feedback of your study group.
On Thursday 3/22 you should already know who you will be interviewing and have set up a date/time to meet with them and inform your prof on the status of your interview and paper.
Before conducting your interview, do some background research on the country the student comes from. As a minimum reading a Wikipedia or encyclopedia article about the country will be helpful. Google image search of the town your interviewee comes from.
– During the interview remember to be positive: show interest and listen carefully to what is said. Don’t rush through your list of questions (they are a checklist not a road map). Follow up on interesting remarks by asking the person to say more, to expand. Do not hesitate to ask the person to explain something if you do not understand fully.
After the interview, transcribe your interview (write what was said during your interview in notes form) to help you organize your paper. The schedule and place of your interview and a transcription of your interview and should be in a separate Appendix after your paper (see Guidelines); the transcription should only be 5-7 pages long.
Based on your transcription, write a 5-7 page paper (“the body” of your paper), double spaced, on the highlights of your interview. Treat this paper as an “Interview Report” which focuses on what your interviewee said, but you will organize it according to topics you think should be highlighted (analyze your interview notes/transcriptions, and organize the paper/report based on highlighted topics from your interview). Your paper is due Tues 4/10 by midnight, please upload it on Canvas as a Doc or PDF file.
Your paper should do or have all of the following attributes:
— A title
— Pagination/page numbers
–Headings: These are the topics that will “organize” the structure of the pape/r, like specific topics that were discussed in the interview
— A proper introduction
— Some quotations from your subject where appropriate, that is where poignant or where revealing. You want to give your subject ‘voice,’ give the reader a feeling for the individual
— Reflexivity – at the end of the paper, include a paragraph about the research and how you might have influenced the interview. Also some comment on your experience /feelings about the project.
— A proper Conclusion
— an Appendix: in the beginning, write your interview schedule (date, place, time) and below it, five to eight pages of the transcribed interview. These do not count as part of the 5-7 pages of “the body” of your paper.
Your paper should discuss much of the following: (But with a paper length of just 5-7 pages it can be better to focus on some aspects in depth rather than skim over everything.)
— Background: the place the student came from, especially those that help you make sense of how he/she adjusted to life in the US.
— Described why he/she came to the US
— First impressions of the US – place, people, culture
— Adjustment: what did h/she find difficult to adjust to in US?
— Adjustment: what did he/she find difficult to adjust to at USF (e.g., the culture, the “system,” the academics). What he/she misses most about being away from home.
— Feelings and perceptions of USF college life
— Adjustment to social life, food, drinking, etc
— Adjustment to academics – classes, professors, homework etc…
— Opinions and perceptions of San Francisco
— Plans for the future – e.g., does he/she plan to return to home. Stay in US?
— Your own feelings about doing the interview
Grading the Interview Papers
The criteria used in grading the papers are: 1. organization and style 2. The quality of the research and how much effort went into it; 3. Creativity and insight/thought; 4. How well it fulfills the assignment; did you follow all the steps outlined above. 5. Grammar and spelling.
Usually the best papers are those that offer a good description of the individual, give the reader a sense of the person and his/her “voice,” makes judicious use of quotations, tells the subject’s story without repeating the questions you asked, is well written, offers some analysis, and gives a thoughtful exposition of the research process and how you felt about it.