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Conducting a Mini Field Study

Activity Description


Students will learn about the nature and importance of qualitative research as a complement to numerical data — specifically how sociologists use in-depth ethnographic research to study specific places and groups. After students investigate census data on the demographics of their school’s ZIP code, they will observe a location at their school (e.g., a student center or cafeteria). Students will record their notes, understanding the importance of reflexivity in field research. Then they will write a short paper about their field study.

Suggested Grade Level


Approximate Time Required

60–120 minutes

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to take field notes and write reports about qualitative data.
  • Students will be able to understand the importance of reflexivity in sociological research.
  • Students will be able to further develop their skills in interpreting numerical data.

Materials Required

  • The student version of this activity, 5 pages
  • Teacher computer with Internet access and a projector to display web sites

A computer with Internet access for each student is preferred but optional.

Activity Items

This activity uses the following online tool:


Teacher Notes

Blooms Taxonomy

Blooms Taxonomy

Students will analyze interactions in a social setting.


High School Sociology


  • Demographics
  • Group behavior
  • Social norms

Skills Taught

  • Conducting field research
  • Drawing conclusions
  • Making inferences


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