Ethnography Interview Information Sheet
In order to better understand the dynamics of spirituality in relation to life experience,
students interview someone personally known to them about spirituality and its role in
providing support to meet challenges and overcome adversity.
What would I be asked to do?
The student will contact you to set up a time and place to meet for an interview that
will last approximately 45-60 minutes. Before the interview begins, the student will ask
if you have any questions and get your consent to ask questions, including personal
background questions. Answering the questions is voluntary.
The interview may be recorded with a digital audio recorder or cell phone. However,
prior to starting the interview, the student will make sure you feel comfortable with
the recording. You may withdraw consent to the audio recording at any time during
You may refuse to answer any question or ask that a particular response not be
recorded. You may refuse to participate or withdraw from the interview at any time.
If at any point during or after the interview you decide to withdraw from the project,
you may notify the student to have information about you destroyed and it will not be
used in the project. The student will be given an opportunity to interview someone
else they know and their course grade will not be affected by your withdrawal.
Who would see study information about me?
Information identifying you as a participant in the project will be confidential.
Information that could identify you among the University community will be changed
and only the student interviewer will have access to it.
A pseudonym, or made up name, will be used in place of your real name in any
written document submitted by the student. Other characteristics about you, such as
your appearance or other personal details, may also be changed in the report to
protect your identity.
The information provided by you in the interview will not be passed on to anyone
other than the student without your signed permission.
The student interviewer will only have information about you that you decide to share
with them. Written notes and digital recordings will be stored by the student in a
What else do I need to know?
Your student interviewer will give you their contact information and you may contact
them by phone or email if you have any questions about the research.
If you agree to participate . . . .
If you agree to participate, you acknowledge the following by accepting this information
sheet: The project above has been explained to me. I voluntarily consent to take part in
this project. I have been told that I can refuse to answer any question or leave the
project at any time, without penalty. I have had a chance to ask questions. I have been
told that I may contact the class instructor if I have any questions, concerns or
complaints about the project.
Ethnography Report Outline
A. Topic: Participant and Challenge/Adversity
B. Research Interest: why this topic
C. Brief Description of Resources
II. Ethnographic Study Design
A. Data Collection and Recruitment
Date and Location of data collection
Type of data collection: structured or semi-structured interview
B. Scope of data collection
Field notes, recording, information sheet and basis for consent (info sheet)
C. Description of the Participant: ethnicity, country of origin, age, education, job position,
location, and other cultural identifying factors that may impact topic and challenge/adversity
III. In-depth Description of Challenge or Adversity in relation to the Participant (no more than three
IV. Description of Spirituality and how it addresses the adversity. This section is no more than three
paragraphs and must include a concept from class or one of the readings and be cited in the text as
such (see the outline for the Spiritual Interest Paper for class concepts).
A. Use participant’s own word’s in quotes
B. Identify participant’s assumptions
C. Clarify and define participant’s use of terms
V. Discussion of what you’ve learned from the participant (no more than three paragraphs)
Include what you learned about spirituality in addressing challenges or adversity in general
VI. Takeaway – A sentence or two about the wisdom shared by your participant
Ethnography Report Sample
I. Topic: Spirituality of a participant who has overcome a challenge or adversity
Challenge/Adversity: Finding a pedagogy to help students succeed who have learning
Resources: Doughnut Dialogues (spiritual interest paper) (Bogucki, 2016)
Garcia-Rivera, St Martin de Porres, imaginative existence, pp 102-105;
Silva, C., Moses, R., Rivers, J., & Johnson, P. (1990). The Algebra Project: Making Middle
School Mathematics Count. The Journal of Negro Education, 59(3), 375-391.
Anticipated effective psychological, cultural, and transcendent values: inclusivity,
empathy, active listening, cross-cultural learning in teaching
Objective: I want to learn about my participant’s teaching philosophy and best practices
in a spiritual context in order to better understand how one may promote empathy in human
relations in education. While empathy is a noble practice, our default is often to disengage and
expand our social distances from those with whom we do not obviously share commonality.
II. Ethnographic Study Design:
Data Collection and Recruitment
Participant Pseudonym: Professor X
Relationship to participant who is being interviewed: former teacher
Location of data collection and why – coffee shop; semi-private and convenient
Type of data collection: semi-structured interview
Date of data collection: middle of February
Scope of data collection: Field notes and recording
Basis for consent: acceptance of the information sheet
Description of the Participant: Professor X is a female Hispanic math instructor from
Kent and 43 years old. Professor X’s father is also a mathematician and retired college
mathematics professor. For Professor X, pursuing math as a career was always an opportunity
available to her and entered college quite confident that she wanted to teach math.
III. In-depth Description of Challenge or Adversity in relation to the Participant
Professor X did not feel comfortable in English class growing up, especially class
discussions. She believes this is because she is painfully shy and empathizes with students who
feel as nervous as her on the first day. On the first day of class, whether it be a core math
course or an advanced Calculus course, Professor X focuses entirely on introductions. She
genuinely wants to get to know her students, so asks them to answer a series of questions.
Most importantly, she shares her responses to those same questions so the students have the
opportunity to know a bit about her, as well. It is essential to Professor X that her first day of a
class should not just be reading the syllabus and leaving.
Professor X finds that many of the same challenges arise whether she is teaching selflabeled “non-math people” or advanced STEM majors. Many students take the classes she
teaches as either a graduation or degree requirement, so she frequently faces push-back from
students who simply do not want to be in the course. Professor X also knows what she finds
difficult or easy about mathematical concepts may be different than her students, which
requires her pacing to be flexible. Even in her advanced mathematics courses, students do not
enter the course with the same knowledge and understanding. Days where she fails to make a
connection with her students are frustrating for Professor X. When she is frustrated at a
student or class, Professor X asks herself, “Who are the people in the classroom?” For example,
if she is teaching a course to mainly first quarter freshmen, she empathizes with students by
having an understanding for their greater context, including the huge life change college
entails. This sentiment echoes the If Project, where Detective Kim Bogucki seeks to examine the
incarcerated women’s greater context to understand the path that led the women to prison
(Bogucki, 2016). When she becomes frustrated, Professor X seeks support from her colleagues,
often informally discussing the happenings of their classes, her dad, for insights on teaching
best practices, and relationships with students, including course tutors and former students.
Though grading and lecturing are sources of frustration for Professor X, there are many
areas of her profession that she finds fulfilling. She particularly loves seeing students improve
over the quarter. In class discussions, she frequently learns new insights into how her students
are thinking. At least once a quarter, she is totally surprised by someone’s thought process.
Professor X particularly loves working one-on-one with students. When asked about future
plans, Professor X said she is incredibly satisfied with teaching math. Though she loves relaxing
during summer break, she is always anxious to go back at the start of fall quarter.
IV. Description of Spirituality and how it addresses the adversity. This section must include a
concept from class or one of the readings and be cited in the text as such (see outline for
Spiritual Interest Paper for class concepts).
When asked who influences her pedagogy, Professor X credits a multitude of teachers
she had as a student and her very own dad. Though her dad is retired, she says he plays an
integral role in her lesson planning as she constantly runs ideas by him and shares how her
classes are going. In terms of teachers, she still utilizes some of the tips and tricks she learned in
her high school math courses to explain new concepts to students. Whenever possible,
Professor X likes to use tangible examples to explain abstract concepts, a trick she picked up
from a high school math teacher. Whether Professor X means to or not, this is a best practice of
a socially just mathematics educator, for when the curriculum is relevant, it becomes accessible
to all students (Silva, Moses, Rivers, & Johnson, 1990).
Professor X’s pedagogy is particularly meaningful when examined in the lens of imaginal
existence. According to García-Rivera, “To know something or somebody is to include that
something or somebody into one’s own world, one’s ‘imaginal existence’” (1995, p. 103). When
asked who she defines as a math student, Professor X responded, “To me it’s everyone. I think
everyone can be a math student and get something from math and find some enjoyment in
some aspect of math. In part, what I aim for when I’m teaching is to not exclude people. I try
really hard not to do anything that would discourage people from asking questions, even if they
think they’re silly. I really want to combat that feeling of being excluded from being in the ‘inclub’ of math.” Professor X’s statement of who she imagines as a math student exposes her
transcendent values of inclusivity and empathy and echoes the mission of the Algebra Project,
which believes every student can, and deserves, to learn advanced mathematics (Silva, Moses,
Rivers, & Johnson, 1990). In the participant’s view, empathy, or our ability to understand,
accept, and accommodate another person’s feelings and experiences, is a practice that requires
Professor X puts imaginal existence into practice in many subtle, but salient ways. First,
she signs off all emails with “Please let me know if you have any additional questions”, which
she hopes encourages students to ask more, especially if her initial explanation did not satisfy
their confusions or curiosities. She also includes a section on her syllabus outlining ways to be
successful in the class, which usually focus on seeking out help when needed. Professor X also
emphasizes the many times per week she will be in her office and available to meet with
students. Overall, her classes are highly organized and students know what to expect in terms
of course content and deadlines. She was proud to mention that her course evaluations
frequently state praise from students of how they felt safe to ask her whatever question, not
matter how silly or stupid it seemed. Lastly, she values staying positive and enthusiastic, even
when the course material is not the most interesting or going the way her lesson plan intended.
V. Discussion of what you’ve learned from the participant
When discussing her teaching philosophy, Professor X shared that one of her goals in
teaching math is to make her students feel more comfortable and confident in applying their
mathematical skills. This is essential in the non-math major mathematics course, as many
students who enter the core math course are self-labeled as “not math people” or “mathphobic”. She also hopes that students will take something out of the course that they will utilize
later on. She sees mathematics as a method of teaching problem solving skills that can be
applied to all sorts of situations.
Professor X also tailors her courses to the students in the course. Professor X teaches both
advanced mathematics course and the one non-math major math course required for students
to graduate. Depending on the class, she may have a group of STEM majors that fear
discussions as much as she does or a group of chatty Communications and Business majors who
love to discuss but shy away from the mathematical concepts required to pass the course. To
create community in her classroom, Professor X plans a hands-on, interactive activity for the
first day of class. She says this is important because it sets the precedent that the class will be
working together for the quarter and so everyone knows at least a few familiar faces.
When discussing engaging with difference in her classroom, like making connections with
self-labeled “non-math people”, Professor X, stated, “Maybe you’ve been thinking about all of
these things from your perspective, but maybe it’s not so different [from their own] … Maybe
your way of thinking, which might have seemed to be different originally, [isn’t] that different.”
We often focus on our differences, how we categorize and distinguish ourselves from those
around us. Professor X invites us to seek what connects us to each other, instead, because
maybe we are not actually as different as we seem.
VI. Takeaway – In order to reach all students and make them feel comfortable with the subject
matter, it’s necessary to connect with the students and be genuinely interested in them and be
willing to change things in the classroom to help them succeed.
Guidelines for Written Work
All written work is expected to following the following guidelines:
1. Work should be uploaded into Canvas.
2. Type should be double spaced, legible 12 pt SAN SERIF font with 1" margins. San serif fonts include Calibri,
Arial, Tahoma, Verdana – smooth letters with no extra “tags.” San serif fonts are easier to read. Serif fonts
have “tags” on the letters. Examples include Times New Roman.
3. Where academic resources are used or required, the Paper must include a Works Cited (MLA) or References
(APA) page. Consult a formatting and style guide and be consistent.
4. Number each page.
5. Follow this format for first page (regardless of using MLA or APA):
Title of Paper (centered)
7. Use in-text citations when you reference the work of others. Examples of MLA in-text citation:
Greider states that spirituality is more expansive than institutional religion (273).
Interestingly, “humor is healing because it puts very difficult things in perspective” (Greider 275).
Examples of APA in-text citation:
Greider (2012) states that spirituality is more expansive than institutional religion (273).
Interestingly, “humor is healing because it puts very difficult things in perspective” (Greider, 2007, p.
Consult the Purdue OWL website for more information about MLA (Links to an external site.) formatting
and APA (Links to an external site.) formatting
Criteria for Evaluation
Your paper will be evaluated based upon the extent to which it:
Demonstrates an in depth understanding and application of resources and course concepts
Uses clear examples and textual evidence which are cited appropriately (if used or required)
Meets all of the required components of the assignment
Demonstrates writing which is clear, concise and well organized
Uses correct grammar, spelling and sentence structure
Tips for Ethnography interviews:
You will be interviewing someone about an adversity or challenge and their spirituality which supported
them in meeting that adversity or challenge. Many times, that adversity or challenge will involve loss, a
de-centering or de-stabilizing event, managing risk, and sometimes tragedy. It will always involve
adapting to a new perspective, framework, or situation.
Here are some of the challenges that people have written about:
- drug or alcohol addiction and recovery
- recovery from an eating disorder or illness
- losing friends or family due to tragic accidents, illness, living longer than others, going into foster care,
or coming out about one’s gender, sexual, or religious/non-religious identity that is different from
friends and family
- being an immigrant to the US, documented and undocumented
- crossing dangerous borders and leaving behind family to escape war or extremely oppressive situations
- interracial or interfaith marriage
- being a minority (racial, gender, religious, disability, etc.)
- being a non-conformist in some way
Many people won’t know what you’re asking for if you ask them, “What is your spirituality and how did
it support you?” Here are some ways to ask people about their spirituality:
What people or communities helped you get through this?
Did you have any passions or strong motivation that helped you get through this?
What gave you hope?
Are you a part of a religious community or other community that does things on a regular basis
together? This question goes towards practices and rituals. It could be a hiking club or sports team with
a strong sense of interconnectedness.
Are there any ideas, books, songs, or poems that gave you hope or faith or support?
Whatever the answer is, dig a little deeper – “How do you think it helped? What about it seemed to
uplift you? Did anything surprise you?”
Another approach is for you to say, “I see my spirituality as 1), 2), 3) and it helps me get through all the
uncertainty of being at university. How do you see your spirituality and how it helps you?”
There’s also the Ignatian approach: “Where did you find God or Love or Peace or Hope in this situation?
What helped you detach from the negative or find some freedom or create space for yourself?”
What did think about or do or imagine to keep going?
You can also draw on other readings – such as Nadeau, Mitchem, Stewart, Howard, and the handout on
Purchase answer to see full