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August 27, 2019

Essay #2: Field Observation – Online Community

Assignment Description

For this assignment, you will select an online community (social media page, website, hashtag feed, discussion forum, blog, message board, etc.) and observe the participants, their behavior, their demeanor, and their reactions/interactions to/with one another. Please note that this is a non-participant observation. The goal for this assignment is to understand a digital phenomenon by entering an online community while staying separate from the activities being observed.

Using field notes from your observation, you will write a 4-5 page (1000-1250 word) essay assessing trends and patterns of behavior that you noticed. Your essay should include at least three primary and/or secondary sources outside of your field notes in order to create a broader view of your online community and triangulate your findings. Your response will address several questions related to the community culture including (but not limited to):

  • What kind of online community are you studying? In what way is it a community? For how long have its members been interacting? Do they see themselves as a coherent group? Who are the leaders? 
  • Does the community have an “insider” language? How do they address each other? 
  • What are the rules for interacting? Who participates? What kind of behavior do you notice? 

Throughout the writing process, you will engage in a series of short writing assignments designed to help you hone your research and writing skills while examining the behaviors of others.

  • SUBJECT DESCRIPTION
    • Provide a brief description (250-500 words) of the online community you intend to observe that includes details on design features, membership, history and language. *Note: The instructor must approve all subjects for this assignment. Questions to consider:
      • What goals or interests do members of the community share? Who are the gatekeepers? 
      • Does the community invent special words or use words in specific ways? 
      • What popular media or scholarly resources could you consult to understand more about the community? 
  • OBSERVATION FIELD NOTES
    • Provide a typewritten transcription (750-1000 words) of the field notes from your observation. Note the date and time as well as specific details including (but not limited to):
      • Information about your chosen online community (platform, core beliefs, rules, rituals, patterns of behavior, vibe/energy, etc.)
      • Use of language. Consciously observe, record, and analyze what is being said, how is it being said, and the tone of conversation among participants. 
      • Information about members of the online community, not only their behavior but general information about their socio-demographic characteristics you are able to ascertain from their accounts (age, race/ethnicity, gender, SES, etc.)
      • How do they address one another? What names have they given themselves in the virtual world? What tone does each conversation take? How do participants seem to conceive of themselves as a community or culture?
      • Questions about participants or behaviors for future investigation.
      • Your thoughts and feelings while making observations.
  • REFLECTION
    • Along with your final draft, you will submit a 1-2 page (250-500 words) Reflection in which you address several questions about your experience writing this essay including (but not limited to):
      • How did you select your online community for this assignment? Reflect on the process of adapting your focus and how you may have modified your subject given the scope of the paper.
      • What were some of the most interesting discoveries you made while working on this assignment? About the online community? About yourself?
      • What other primary and secondary did you consult to understand more out your online community?

Format

4-5 pages (1000-1250 words); Size 12 font, Times New Roman, standard margins, double-spaced. Cite all sources in proper APA format. You must include a Works Cited page with your essay. *Note: Works Cited page does not count toward the word count.

Submission

Upload a digital copy of your Final Draft and 1-2 page Reflection via Blackboard before 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov 6th.

Timeline

OCT 2 REVIEW ESSAY #2 ASSIGNMENT
OCT 16 SUBJECT DESCRIPTION DUE
OCT 23 OBSERVATION FIELD NOTES DUE
OCT 30 ESSAY #2 FIRST DRAFT DUE
NOV 3 PEER REVIEW COMMENTS DUE
NOV 6 ESSAY #2 FINAL DRAFT + REFLECTION DUE

 

Evaluation Rubric

Content – 30%

  • Does your essay provide a compelling analysis of your community’s cultural norms of behavior?
  • Does your essay do more than simply describe your community at face value? Do you provide a social-scientific interpretation of your community?
  • Does your essay emphasize analysis (your ideas) over description?
  • Do you effectively implement the ethnographic perspective by adopting multiple different points of view in your writing? Your essay should include
    • your own first-person point of view
    • the points of view of participants in your community
    • a third-person (outsider) point of view to report on background information and to present events as readers might see them

Development – 25%

  • Does your essay paint a portrait of your community that is rich with description?
  • Does your essay contain illustrative (carefully selected) quotes and thoughtful commentary?
  • Does your essay provide a thick description of your community? Do you address the social, cultural, and/or historical context(s) that influence your community’s norms?

Organization – 20%

  • Does your essay include a strong introduction and conclusion?
  • Does your essay have a coherent structure? Are your ideas united and logically organized in a way that leads to a thought-provoking conclusion?
  • Are your paragraphs focused on distinct units of thought, controlled by specific and detailed topic sentences?
  • Do you implement appropriate, clear, and smooth transitions?

Style – 10%

  • Are the sentences well-worded and well-constructed? Should some sentences be combined for clarity? Should others be broken into two or more sentences, so ideas receive proper emphasis?
  • Do you use quotations and APA citations effectively?

Creativity — 10%

  • Are your essay’s topics, descriptions, or ideas fresh and original?

Grammar & Mechanics – 5%

  • Have you proofread and edited your piece for grammatical and punctuation errors?

Grade Weights

 

Essay #2: Field Observation – Online Community  20%
  • Subject Description
1%
  • Observation Notes
1%
  • First Draft + Peer Review
1%
  • Final Draft
15%
  • Reflection
2%

 

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