JUST ANSWER THE QUESTIONS COMPLETELY, NOT AN ESSAY
1. What is the goal of ethnography generally ?
2. What are the guiding and subsidiary questions in this study?
3. What was their answer?
4. What did the group do for participant observation, and what in terms of their answer did they learn from participant observation?
5. Who was their key informant and what in terms of their answer did they learn from their informant 1 point (note: the key informant is not all the people they dealt with).
6. What sorts of information did people in the culture studied need to know in order to function? (explicit knowledge) This is information that natives can easily explain.
7. What sorts of traditions or cultural aspects are present that maybe the natives do not themselves recognize or explain (tacit knowledge)?
8. What symbols did they explore and how does each symbols relate the cultural patterns or answer you found?
9. Assess their effort. What did they do right? What do you think you would have done differently or in addition?
The cognitive map is often most evident in tacit knowledge.
The Culture of the Widener University Track and Field Team
Through the process of picking a culture scene we had to pick something that we both had never done before, but we wanted to stay within sports. Therefore, we picked Widener University’s track and field for our culture scene.
Before we could study this scene we needed a guiding question and subsidiary questions for them to answer to help us learn about the culture of the team. Our guiding question is why do they run? As we spent time, especially with three athletes who participate in three different events, we began to develop some subsidiary questions as well: do you eat with the team, does it affect your school work, does it take a toll on your body, how do you prepare for a track meet, does it make it easier to make friends, how does it affect your life at home, what events do you compete in, and what do you consider yourself in terms of distance runner, sprinter, or jumper?
Our methodology was to observe and learn about the track and field runners and jumpers. We decided the only way we could learn about the runners and jumpers on the track team was through participant observation. For our participant observation we practiced with the team for one whole week. We found three informants each of whom belonged to a different events in track and field competition. One informant is a sprinter, the second is a distance runner, and the last informant is a long jumper. We practiced and followed our informants around during practices, making casual talk which informally included asking questions referring to our guiding and subsidiary questions. We didn’t want to just interview our informants, but rather, learn about their life stories to get a real understanding of the answer to our guiding question.
Over the course of our time with the students we observed their behavior within the sport as well as outside the sport, and we participated in the events, so that we would know what it is like to be a part of track and field at Widener University.
We weren’t sure exactly what to expect when we had joined our informants for our first practice. We wore a t-shirt, running shorts and just the sneakers that we had. We walked together down to the field house in the Wellness Center which is where the track and field team meet for practice and where we met with our informants. The team would wait until every teammate is out of the locker room and together as a whole team before they started their warm up. Once every teammate was out we noticed that each and every one was matching. They all had a practice uniforms on, looked very similar, and even had matching socks. They all had uniforms with a running shoe with wings and the school name. As a whole team they walked to the track field where you could see Widener’s logo Pride written on the field in big letters. Everything was blue and yellow to match Widener’s colors, the track itself was even blue. The track was surrounded by trees and bushes that separated it from the rest of the campus. You could hear the
birds chirping in the trees and in the distance you would be able to hear the train go by on the tracks. You would be able to hear the planes that flew over your head every few minutes, because the airport is so close to Widener University. Another sound that you could hear down at the field– one that you didn’t always want to hear– were the police sirens or the loud noise of the fire trucks going down one of the streets on or around campus. But most of all the last noise that we wanted to hear was the whistle from the coaches and their demanding voices for instruction and motivation for practice. The head coach would have a schedule made up at the beginning of practice for the distance runners, sprinters, and the jumpers, so that they would know what they had to do. After a nice easy warm up it was time to go to work. One of the things that we noticed was that everyone was always moving; there was never a dull moment when someone wasn’t doing something active during the practice. After about every twenty to thirty minutes the coaches would allow each of the teammates to go and get a drink of water. Some teammates had brought their own water bottles, while others ran over to the jugs of water and filled up a small paper cup with ice cold water. The water break was only about a minute and the coach would blow their whistle again signaling everyone to get back on the track to practice. After a long two hours of practice you could tell that every single one of the players was tired. Each of them was sweaty, and in dire need of deodorant, because they all smelled like something that had died. At the beginning of practice their eyes were lit up and every runner and jumper was happy, smiling, and excited to practice, but by the end of practice their eyes drooped down, and the smiles were gone. The only thing that each of them wanted to do was to take a shower, to get food and water, and to go back to their rooms to rest their bodies.
They didn’t always just practice outside on the track field; once or twice a week they would go to the weight room and lift to build their muscle. It was mostly the same thing as if
they were practicing outside on the track. Again, they would all dress in the same practice uniform, and would walk there together. But instead of being outside we were in a small rectangular room with a bunch of weights. Just like the track field all the equipment was painted with white, blue, and yellow colors, along with the word Pride written in big letters in the center of wall. Watching the team lift was different than being out on the track field, because each of the teammates are now split up in groups of two or three and will do sets on a piece of equipment and rotate out. We noticed that the sprinters paired with sprinters, distance with other distance runners, and jumpers with other jumpers. Most of the male runners had their headphones on so that they could block the outside noise and focus on their lifting. The women would socialize more than these guys when they would lift. We also saw that the men would lift much heavier weights than the females, and each individual was able to go at their own pace with motivation from their teammates.
Once it came to us participating in the activities it was a different story. Both of us play volleyball; we are both very active, and we love to play sports, but neither of us ever ran for a sport, because volleyball is a very stationary sport with little movement. Running sprints wasn’t as bad as running long distance, sprinting was about fast feet and running your heart out. But when it came to long distance, it was difficult and challenging because you had to find a good pace and keep that pace throughout the race, as well as keep your endurance up making it harder on the body. As for jumping it was simply impossible for the both of us, when Nick had showed us how to do it properly, it had seemed really easy, but little did we know it was actually the complete opposite. You need a lot of leg and core strength to throw your body a far distance, and neither one of us was prepared for that. You need to know a lot and prepare yourself for the challenge.
Some of the things that we observed were that the team was split up between the long distance runners, the sprinters, and the jumpers, all being in their very own category on the team. Besides everything that the team does together on the field we looked into things that our informants did with the team off of the track field. There are even times that after a long day of practice or lifting some of the team members would walk down to the athletic trainer and maybe get some ice, or sit in the ice bath for about ten minutes to heal their sore muscles. We took note that the team would plan to meet up for dinner at the cafeteria before they had a meet at home, on the Widener University track field or during a meet when there’s a break. Some of the teammates, even if they are not participating in a race or an event, they would be socializing with the rest of the team. They would be there to cheer their teammates on. There would also be teammates who would have their headphones in and would study for an upcoming exam they would have in a class. Others would be resting to catch up on sleep, or they would be with their family members who would come to watch them compete in their events at the track meet.
Some of the things that we noticed about the individuals who were on the track and field team was that there was a lot of diversity in gender, background, and where team members were from. That didn’t separate them from each other. All the members on the team were friends and got along with each other. Another thing that we noticed was that even though the distance runners, sprinters, and the jumpers were all in their own categories, this did not keep them from being friends. Each person on the team got along, and would do things together even though they were not in the same category. While watching the team we noticed that all the members made us feel like they were one team, almost like a family because of how well everyone got along and how nice everyone was. There were about the same number of males and females who ran or participated in the track and field team making the gender about a 50/50 split. During the time
that we observed the team we noticed that the coaches weren’t always wearing the same clothes. Some days they would come to the practices looking professional with nice pants, a buttoned up shirt, and a nice tie while other days the coaches would be in a jump suit that had the Widener colors and logo on it. Of all the coaches that we saw when we observed the track team we noticed that they are all male and there is not a single female coach or assistant coach.
Throughout our time as we conversed with each of our informants Kathryn, Nick, and Zach, and we got around to our guiding question, why do you run? We did not talk to them all at the same time; we asked each informant individually. The one thing that stood out the most was that each of them replied with the same answer; they wanted to stay in shape, it was something they were good at, and they enjoyed the competition. We had also found out that each of our informants had a different major. Kathryn is a nursing major, Nick is a mechanical engineering major, and Zach is an accounting major, but even though that their majors are all different, they love the sport for the very same reason. Yet the one thing that stood out the most was that Widener is a D3 school, therefore your academics come before the sport, and that is exactly what our three informants demonstrated for us. Each day our informants would go to practice and work hard for about two hours every day, but once practice was over they went back to their rooms and continued to do their school work and study for their classes. They are able to balance their school schedule and their sports very well, and even when they are stressed out or have a lot of school work, they still go to practice. Each of our informants had said that going to practice gives them the opportunity to get their minds off of school work and do something that they enjoy. Those two hours or so of practice lets them focus on the sport, and not on their school work, plus it is an advantage to having a set schedule every day unlike making your schedule up as you go. Here each of the informants had answered one of our subsidiary questions which was,
does it affect your school work. We both had determined that each of the informants balanced their schedule well so that the sport would not affect their school work. When they are done practice at the end of the day they go back to studying and doing work until they have practice the following day.
Even though each of the informants participate in track and field, as well as balancing their school work; we found out that the school work wasn’t the only thing each of the informants worry about. Kathryn, Nick, and Zach had been separated from their parents during the school year, but each had the opportunity to see their parents when they come to watch them compete in events for Widener. Speaking to each of the informants, we found that they missed their parents while being at college. Each one of them said that any opportunity that they get to see their parents they will take it. Sometimes after their track meets each of the informants would go out to dinner with their parents. They would go anywhere from locally around Widener University, or they would take a drive and go to a nice restaurant near Springfield Pa, which also answered another one of our subsidiary questions, does it affect your life at home. It does not necessarily affect their life at home, because each of the informants get to see their parents or family after track meets, and they aren’t away from their family causing them to be depressed. Another thing that we noticed was that each of the informants had friends that were on the team, and a different group of friends outside of the team. Being on the track and field team meant that the team was on campus a whole week before all of the other students. Therefore, each of the informants became friends with others that were on the team, they had a base to start off with when all the other students showed up. Once the rest of the students arrived at Widener University the informants had established a group of friends from the track and field team, and it was only that much easier to make other friends. So, each of the informants became friends with
other students in their classes who were not on the team, which expanded the amount of friends they had at Widener. This had also answered another one of our subsidiary questions: does it make it easier to make friends? Each of the informants had said yes, because without having friends on the team first they wouldn’t know how to reach out to the other students in our classes when school started.
Throughout our whole experience of practicing with the team, we noticed some particular symbols: the school logo and colors. We had noticed these symbols as soon as we began practice with the track team on the first day. Widener Pride is written on the track and on the students’ uniforms, and the uniforms are blue, white, and gold. We came to the conclusion that these symbols stood for exactly what they said: pride. The uniform also stood for how the team was never just one person; it represented the whole team everywhere they went. The uniforms have also been the same for sentries, the colors and the logo has never changed over the years. The university’s mascot is “pride” two lions one female and one male. You see it on the uniforms, and the equipment that the team had. As well as all of the students would wear shirts or sweatshirts show that “pride” on and off the track. Considering both of us have experience with the sport of volleyball, it was interesting to see that this “pride” that the students on the track team had shown us was the same kind of “pride” that we feel each day as athletes and students of Widener University. The symbol of pride, on and off the track field, unites athletes of different sports and students of different grades within the university.
During our research, we took a particular interest in finding out our three informants’ life stories. Each one of them spoke about different things and events in their lives prior to coming to Widener that had brought them to the sport of track and field. Kathryn Mackel had always loved running from a very young age, whether it be chasing her sisters around her backyard or running
in her first track meet at the age of 9. She told us that she had wanted to compete in races in college ever since she started running. Zach, different from Kathryn, had no plans of joining the track team when he came to the university. He told us that his roommate had convinced him to join, because it would be a great way to meet new people, and it would also be a great way to stay in shape. Luckily, Zach is very happy with his decision to join the team, because he thoroughly enjoys staying in shape and is very pleased with the new friends he made. Nick informed us that he joined the track team, because he has always loved the competitiveness of sports. He ran track in high school, so naturally he wanted to continue his running career in college. Nick also said that he loves staying in shape by going to practices every single day.
We found that the symbols of togetherness and pride and the other elements of friendship, seeing parents on a regular basis, competition, and staying in shape to look your best represented the tacit knowledge of why track was important to all the members of the track team.
In conclusion, through our participant observation, we found out many things about the sport of track and field at Widener University and we learned about the unique individuals that make up the team. Our three informants, Kathryn, Zach, and Nick, who were extremely helpful with our research, gave us answers to the many subsidiary questions we proposed at the beginning of this process. The main thing that we learned from this experience is that all runners are there for different reasons pertaining to our guiding question: why do you run (or jump)? Whether it is staying in shape, making new friends, or keeping a sense of competitiveness in their lives, it is obvious that all of the athletes on the track team at Widener University had joined for many different reasons. Of all these reasons we learned that if you’re a runner you will always be runner, and Widener University’s track and field team is the perfect place to
demonstrate the family like atmosphere of being on a sports team. No matter how diverse and different people are they all seem to come together as a team or a Pride.