A field report allows a student to convey in written form what they’ve learned in an experience outside of class. Based upon research objectives, this paper is a reflection and synthesis of observed data and experiences. You can use notes, video and audio recordings, photos and other artifacts as prompts for your writing. A variety of subject areas use field reports, but they’re most common in the sciences and social sciences.
The beginning of your report should paint a picture of the project for the reader. Be sure to include the location and participants in your study. Most importantly, outline the learning objectives and what you hoped to achieve during your field observation. Tying your study to relevant literature establishes a foundation for the purpose of your study. Finally, provide a brief description of the methodology for your study.
Imagine yourself as a newspaper reporter as you begin writing the details of your field report. Be descriptive. Include variables of the environment that may impact the data analysis. For example, if you’re studying a homeless shelter, describe the living conditions in detail. Time stamp your study by indicating when you began and ended your observation. Objective information about the participants informs the reader about your experience. This should include demographic information as well as behavioral variables. Finally, provide rationale for why you chose this field experience and how it’s relevant to your study.
The data analysis section of your field report provides an opportunity for you to engage in critical thinking about your experience. Consider what you’ve read and learned in class as you write this section. As the researcher you’ll need to select the most relevant observations that reinforce your study objectives. Reflect upon what you observed and identify strengths and weaknesses of your observations, the depth of the data, potential patterns and the application of the data in other settings. Be sure to base this section solely on what you’ve observed and how it applies to theory and learned practice.
The last section of your field report should emphasize the most important elements in your study. Approach this section as a summary of your experience and an opportunity to provide your recommendations. Relate your recommendations to the data or literature to bolster your credibility. If there were any limitations of your study, be sure to note those at the end of this section. Following your recommendations, include an appendix with relevant charts, photos or interview transcriptions. Supply references to the sources you used.
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