Workforce Field Study Assignment
Introduction to Writing a Field Report
Field reports require the researcher to combine theory and analysis learned in the classroom with methods of observation and practice applied outside of the classroom. The purpose of field reports is to describe an observed person, place, or event and to analyze that observation data in order to identify and categorize common themes in relation to the research problem(s) underpinning the study. The data is often in the form of notes taken during the observation but it can also include any form of data gathering, such as, photography, illustrations, or audio recordings.
How to Approach Writing a Field Report
Field reports are most often assigned in the applied social sciences [e.g., social work, anthropology, gerontology, criminal justice, education, law, the health care professions] where it is important to build a bridge of relevancy between the theoretical concepts learned in the classroom and the practice of actually doing the work you are being taught to do.
Professors will assign a field report with the intention of improving your understanding of key theoretical concepts through a method of careful and structured observation of and reflection about real life practice. Field reports facilitate the development of data collection techniques and observation skills and allow you to understand how theory applies to real world situations. Field reports are also an opportunity to obtain evidence through methods of observing professional practice that challenge or refine existing theories.
We are all observers of people, their interactions, places, and events; however, your responsibility when writing a field report is to create a research study based on data generated by the act of observation, a synthesis of key findings, and an interpretation of their meaning. When writing a field report you need to:
- Systematically observe and accurately record the varying aspects of a situation. Always approach your field study with a detailed plan about what you will observe, where you should conduct your observations, and the method by which you will collect and record your data.
- Continuously analyze your observations. Always look for the meaning underlying the actions you observe. Ask yourself: What’s going on here? What does this observed activity mean? What else does this relate to? Note that this is an on-going process of reflection and analysis taking place for the duration of your field research.
- Keep the report’s aims in mind while you are observing. Recording what you observe should not be done randomly or haphazardly; you must be focused and pay attention to details. Enter the field with a clear plan about what you are intending to observe and record while, at the same time, be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances as they may arise.
- Consciously observe, record, and analyze what you hear and see in the context of a theoretical framework. This is what separates data gatherings from simple reporting. The theoretical framework guiding your field research should determine what, when, and how you observe and act as the foundation from which you interpret your findings.
Techniques to Record Your Note taking
This is the most commonly used and easiest method of recording your observations. Tips for taking notes include: organizing some shorthand symbols beforehand so that recording basic or repeated actions does not impede your ability to observe, using many small paragraphs, which reflect changes in activities, who is talking, etc., and, leaving space on the page so you can write down additional thoughts and ideas about what’s being observed, any theoretical insights, and notes to yourself about may require further investigation.
Video or Audio Recording
Video or audio recording your observations has the positive effect of giving you an unfiltered record of the observation event. It also facilitates repeated analysis of your observations. However, these techniques have the negative effect of increasing how intrusive you are as an observer and will often not be practical or even allowed under certain circumstances.
This is not an artistic endeavor but, rather, refers to the possible need, for example, to draw a map of the observation setting or illustrating objects in relation to people’s behavior. This can also take the form of rough tables or graphs documenting the frequency and type of activities observed. These can be subsequently placed in a more readable format when you write your field report.
Examples of Things to Document While Observing
- Physical setting. The characteristics of an occupied space and the human use of the place where the observation(s) are being conducted.
- Objects and material culture. The presence, placement, and arrangement of objects that impact the behavior or actions of those being observed. If applicable, describe the cultural artifacts representing the beliefs–values, ideas, attitudes, and assumptions–used by the individuals you are observing.
- Use of language. Don’t just observe but listen to what is being said, how is it being said, and, the tone of conversation among participants.
- Physical characteristics of subjects. If relevant, note age, gender, clothing, etc. of individuals.
- Expressive body movements. This would include things like body posture or facial expressions. Note that it may be relevant to also assess whether expressive body movements support or contradict the use of language.
Brief notes about all of these examples contextualize your observations; however, your observation notes will be guided primarily by your theoretical framework, keeping in mind that your observations will feed into and potentially modify or alter these frameworks.
Workforce Field Study Assignment
Each student must conduct a field study about any workplace of his/her choice.
Purpose: You may have been to various workplace settings. Each setting has its own unique organizational structure, system, and approaches in dealing with issues related to employees. This assignment is designed to accomplish the following objectives:
- The development of “professional awareness” through visitation.
- Developing and sharpening the skills to evaluate and suggest improvements when dealing with “human performance issues” in the workplace.
- Intellectually challenge the “perceived assumptions” about one’s perception on workplace skills, attitude and culture.
- You are asked to write a complete report of your visitations, observations, and interview(s) on a specific workplace of your choice.
- The report should include the following components:
- Introduction (10points)
The introduction should describe the specific objective and important theories or concepts underpinning your field study. The introduction should also describe the nature of the organization or setting where you are conducting the observation, what your focus was, when you observed, and the methods you used for collecting the data.
- Description of Activities (210 points)
This section should include the following components:
- Business Description (10pts):
- Describe the type of business (5pts)
- Its contribution to the local community (5pts)
- Hours of Operation (20pts):
- State the hours of operation; (2pts)
- Describe and explain THREE (3) work activities that involve human relationship skills. (18pts)
- Services/Products (10pts):
- State the products or services of the company/industry;
- Describe and/or explain products or services.
- Employees Description (20pts):
- State the number of employees; (5pts)
- Describe the employee composition – ethnic, gender, age, credential, ranks, etc. (15pts)
- THREE types of major “human performance” problems (45pts): Review Chapters 7 and 8 in your textbook
- State, describe and explain the number and types of human performance problem in the last FIVE (5) years; (15pts)
- What were the measures taken by the employer in reducing or preventing each problem from occurring again; (15pts)
- Explain whether the prevention and control programs that were implemented were effective, and give ONE example for each problem. (15pts)
- Provide YOUR OWN suggestions or recommendations, and/or comments (15 pts) to improve the situation or to solve the THREE problems mentioned in item “e”.
- TWO types of professional development programs (training, counseling, coaching, mentoring etc) that were/are implemented (25pts):
- Describe the established or implemented program; (5pts)
- Explain its effectiveness and efficiency; (5pts)
- Find information from two employees about the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of the program; (10pts)
- Describe the types(s) of support the employees received from the management. (5pts)
- Management and supervision styles (20pts): Review Chapter 11 for leadership styles
- Describe and explain the management and supervision approaches;
- Explain the implementation of the negative and positive reinforcements and/or other approaches in order to improve human performance;
- Give TWO examples for each approach.
- Conflict Resolution approaches (30pts): Review Chapter 12
- Describe and explain the conflict resolution approaches; (12pts)
- Explain the implementation of the approaches in reducing or resolving conflicts; (12pts)
- Give TWO examples of the cases. (6pts)
- Working atmosphere – relationship among employees, supervisor and customers (15 pts):
- Describe and explain the working atmosphere or conditions of the work environment. (5pts)
- Explain employees relationship with customers and upper level management/administration; (5pts)
- Give TWO examples about their roles and relationships. (5pts)
III. Conclusion and Recommendations (20 points)
The conclusion should briefly recap of the entire study, reiterating the importance or significance of your observations. Avoid including any new information. You should also state any recommendations you may have. Be sure to describe any unanticipated problems you encountered and note the limitations of your study. The conclusion should not be more than two or three paragraphs.
- Appendix (10 points)
This is where you would place information that is not essential to explaining your findings, but that supports your analysis [especially repetitive or lengthy information], that validates your conclusions, or that contextualizes a related point that helps the reader understand the overall report. Examples of information that could be included in an appendix are figures/tables/charts/graphs of results, statistics, pictures, maps, drawings, or, if applicable, transcripts of interviews. There is no limit to what can be included in the appendix or its format [e.g., a DVD recording of the observation site], provided that it is relevant to the study’s purpose and reference is made to it in the report. If information is placed in more than one appendix [“appendices”], the order in which they are organized is dictated by the order they were first mentioned in the text of the report.
General Rules for Typing your Paper
Use standard-sized paper of 8.5 inches by 11 inches and use a 1-inch margin on all sides.
Your paper should be typed, double-spaced and in a 12-point font. Times New Roman is recommended font to use.
Every page of your paper should also include a page header on the top left of the page as well as a page number on the top right of the page.
Include the following sections: a title page, the main body of the paper and an appendix section.
- The Title Page: Your title page should contain a running head, the title of the paper, your name, course title, the organization your observed, and the date.
- The Main Body of Your Paper: Label each section of your report. For example:
Description of Activities
- Hours of Operation
- Employee Description
- Three Types of Human Performance Problems
- Professional Development Program
- Management and Supervision Styles
- Conflict Resolution Approach
- Working Atmosphere
- Conclusion and Recommendations