Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Questioning My Fieldnotes

Every week for five hours since the start of school I have gone to The Student Athlete Success Center, and I'm so surprised at how much I have never noticed. 

It's amazing how I have spent so much time there and never realized simple details. When I was at The Student Athlete Success Center taking my field notes, I watched the people a lot but then I started to look around at my surroundings. The thing that surprised me the most was that the walls were painted the colors of RIC and I never realized it. Two walls are painted maroon and two are painted a yellowish   gold color. I couldn't believe how much time I had spent in this place and never realized something so simple that represented so much. When I told my teammates about what I noticed, they hadn't seen it either. This reminded of the video I watched in my writing class this year. It was a video of Dana Goia about Cultivating Your Own Sense of Place. In this video he talked about how most people go through life unaware of their surroundings, and for ever detail you don't take in you lose. This finding really made me look at every other detail I could find in that room. Another thing I noticed that surprised me was the amount of boys and girls there. At RIC there are more women's teams than there were men's so I assumed there would be more girls there than boys. However, that was not what I found when I was taking notes. For the amount of time I stayed, I recorded more guys than girls the entire time, which I found really odd. While I was counting all the people there I also counted the pictures they had of past athletes. I counted more women’s teams again, but surprising I didn’t see a picture for women’s golf, men and women’s track and field, and women’s swimming. I couldn’t believe how much I was unaware of.

The number one thing that intrigued me is the places that people sit while in study hall. When you walk in there are tables in the front, which nobody sits at unless they have to. For the time I was there, there were more people sitting at the cubicles because there you can sneak looks at your phone, look busy while not being busy and talk to your neighbors. I think its funny that people still try to hide and be sneaky even in college. I do understand from experience that sitting at the cubicles is better because it allows you to have your own space without someone sitting across from you and you can’t see things that distract you. While I was observing though, the cubicles were not used for those reasons. I watched people talk and use their cell phones; two rules broken in a matter of seconds. Although the cubicles give different pros to different people, it intrigued me to find that most people use the cubicles to use their phones and stare off into space.

The big thing that disturbed me was what I took my fieldnotes on. When I walked into study hall, I took notes on my surroundings and the student athletes there, but I didn’t take notes on the head people. I have few pieces of evidence about the head guy in charge and Gail. They are mentioned and I did observe them, but my first set of fieldnotes doesn’t really gather what they really do. On my second trip out into the field I would really like to focus more on Gail and what she does during a typical day in the Student Athlete Success Center.

 This set of fieldnotes were a great place to start for me and when I continue my notes the next time I would love to dig in deeper to find the culture of the place.  


  1. Ashley, I completely understand about what you mean when you said you have never noticed things. I have been backstage at the theatre I am studying, multiple times before i even attended RIC and I never noticed small details until I finally stopped and did my fieldworking notes. I liked how you noticed that people try and be sneaky and look at their phones while they are in study hall and how this reminded you of high school and how it amused you that people still try and be sneaky even in college. I am really enjoying your field working project. Keep up the good work!!!!!

  2. Ashley: This is a good analysis! I love your humility and how you admit, over and over and over, that you were SHOCKED by what you never noticed before. That's a major breakthrough! I'm so happy to know that you've directly experienced what it's like to be a fieldworker, to notice what other people miss, to make meaning out of what other people ignore or take for granted. Fantastic. I love, love, love that you noticed the color of the walls at the Student Success Center. As a professor who's taught at RIC for 10 years in every dingy classroom imaginable (beige walls and cinder blocks, for the most part), I am so jealous that you get to work (whether studying or sneaking) in a colourful place (notice the British spelling autocorrect! FUN!). I could also interpret this color block scheme as a method of indoctrination of sorts...athletes need to love their school, need to buy into the team and the spirit and the colors and the mascot and so on. So, studying in a maroon and gold room is a method of subliminal indoctrination. I'm taking this way too far but am trying to demonstrate how one might interpret the fact that the majority of classrooms at RIC are not colourful. Why do the athletes get a colourful workspace? What does this tell us about collegiate athletic culture? I also love that you've made mental (written) notes about what to look for next time. Smart fieldworker! I know you are going to have a great study, Ashley. Keep going! Keep noticing stuff no one else is noticing and making meaning of it!