I have integrated field studies into my economics programs for at least a couple of decades now. However, in more recent years, I have implemented a far more comprehensive field study project across all of my courses. I find that my students not only enjoy this project, but they become far more comfortable with the fundamentals of field research, including study design, data collection, and the drawing of inferences. I believe that field studies are now an integral part of a modern liberal arts education, especially for students of social science. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that field studies have become the new essay.
Field studies describe an organized, well-considered effort to collect data from a real-world environment. Field studies generate primary research data through the use of recorded observations, interviews, or surveys. Field studies are not to be confused with experiments, wherein data is generated from within a controlled setting - such as a lab.
The objective of any field study is to make inferences about what happens in the real world.
The Field Study Extended Project
In the Field Study Project, each student (or pair of students) would propose, design, and conduct some form of original field study. The field study must explore a phenomenon that is related to a course's overall topic of study (ex. law, sociology, or economics). The actual field study (i.e. the data collected) would form the basis of a scholarly journal article that can later be published within a journal that the class produces and posts online.
The Field Study extended project includes the following phases:
Students familiarize themselves with the idea of field studies by reading field study articles curated by the course instructor.
III) Ethical Review
Each field study write-up, presentation, and journal article should:
Write-Up: There is no prescribed lower or upper word limit for the study write-up. However, this study should be well considered and well implemented so that it can serve as the foundation for both your presentation and your scholarly article.
Presentation: Ten minutes.
Scholarly Article: Maximum of 1500 words, including the front matter. (Front matter for a journal article generally consists of a title, abstract, key words, and the names of the author or authors.) This is an article intended for publication within a scholarly journal, so it should be representative of the student's very best writing. Single spaced, at font size 12, the article should take up three pages within the scholarly journal.
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