Nottingham University Business School
[Research Methods for Finance and Investment]
[Critical Evaluation of Articles by
Russel (2005) and Brown et al. (2005)]
Student ID: 
Word count: 3007 (without headings), 3234 (with headings).
It’s a question of trust: Balancing the relationship between students and teachers in ethnographic fieldwork Russell, L.
1. The researcher says that “[i]ntense observations in the classroom and playground area were completed … [and] detailed observations were conducted in … lessons” (p.184). What can you infer about the things she observed and the methods she used to record her observations?
The author has attempted to investigate very complicated and specific topic of students` resistance behavior at school. It is obvious that this subject forces researcher to observe students in their common life, to find the way to acquire relevant information about facts of resistance to schooling. One cannot deny that this fact directly influenced the choice of methodology, which was applied by Russell. In this case, ethnography matches all the criteria for the research, because this method is meant to let researcher obtain more deep information from the researched and achieve “thick description” (Geertz, 1973; Cassel and Symon, 2004). However, this fact was doubted in the paper of Bate (1997), where he described modern ethnography methodology as “quick description” and argues that it lacks of time observation. Moreover, Russell argues that her research demanded close relationships with observed students and initially she had to achieve trust with them in order to gather any information. That is why the researcher is applying common technique in fieldwork – establishing ground rules with students. Eventually, it has helped her to take more realistic picture of students’ usual behavior, when it became clear that the author is not going to report teachers about inappropriate or even illegal activities.
I should mention that Cassel and Symon (2004) define ethnography not as a method, but a “style of research”, the combination of different methods such as participant observation, in-depth interviews, discourse analysis, vignettes, filming, audio recording and even activity in the internet. Russell in her fieldwork applied following methods: * Shadowing students
* Semi-structured interviews and informal discussions
* Intense observation of students behavior at school
* Collection of information on student attendance and academic ability The ethnographer used note-taking to record observations obtained during shadowing students and I find this approach reasonable. Although it is not very clear from the paper whether the researcher used recording often or not, one can assume, that Russell used recommendations for fieldnotes making provided by Spradley (1979). Russell describes particular situations and events which were happened during the fieldwork. Besides that, she was writing a logbook, which contained all the interpretations of student’s behavior. So, I can tell that the author’s record taking technique is reasonable, while Silverman (2010) consider Spradley’s recommendations as reliability improving.
The ethnographer used to be engaged in students’ activities such as eating lunch in the yard or playing cards. It could be challenging or even inappropriate to write all the observations during the time when researcher is involved in student life. Besides that, as it was mentioned in paper and also proclaimed by Cassel and Symon (2004), using audio or video recording can be harmful and obtrusive to the researched people and reduce the level of trust.
To sum it up, Russell’s methodology applied in paper might be considered as appropriate, because it resulted in obtaining useful data, what could not be achieved successfully with other methods or without establishing trust with...
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