Students these days, part II

Meg Westbury did an anthropological study of students’ use of study space in Wolfson College, where she’s a librarian.  This is the second part of her blog – there’s a link to the earlier posting.  Interesting reading – it’s a different perspective on a perennial topic.


ubc student 2 4093136283_b89704085c_oThis post is a continuation of last week’s post in which I described how, with no money and very little time, I successfully used a small survey and some ethnographic techniques to sharpen discussion about students’ technology and study-space needs at my college. It was remarkable how such techniques swiftly illuminated a host of previously unconsidered issues. In this post, I discuss specifically the ethnographic techniques that I used.

Cognitive Maps

At the end of the computer-room survey (discussed in last week’s post), I asked if the students would be interested in doing a quick 10-minute follow-up interview with me, and about a third said yes. I felt strongly that there was likely more to be said about their use of the computer room than my simple survey could get at. I’ve been inspired lately by the idea of cognitive mapping, discussed by anthropologists Donna Lanclos here and here

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