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I am the national student affairs director for the university I work at. In this position I am responsible for designing the key elements that students should experience during their undergraduate studies. The student affairs team is conformed by the coordinators, who work directly with students, the national coordinator who supervise what is done on all campuses and me who design and look for new ideas to interest students.
I chose ethnography method since I will like to understand our students’ generation, how they think, and why they act as they act. With ethnography the basic idea is to share time with them, learn from them and observe to find answers to the question.
My basic question for this short research will be: What is the motivation of undergraduate students?
I decided to sit and walk where most of the students are regularly between classes and after school, to hear what they are talking about and if I can, talk with them about what they are thinking.
I am 27, and the students should be around 18 to 20 years old, I thought I didn’t look that old, so maybe they might trust on me to share what they think.
I tried this exercise for 2 days only. The first day, I was alone looking at everyone and everyone stopped chatting and stared at me as if I was a stranger, I think I was. They talked to each other, but they didn’t let me hear that much about what they were talking about. Girls often speak a bit louder and talk a lot about what school, places to visit in the weekend, boys, things they want to buy.
For the next day, I looked for an undergraduate student that I knew, so she could help me meet and talk to more students. So, I was with her and approached to a group of girls. I had to tell them that I was observing and they accepted, but I am sure they didn't talk all that they wanted. I could hear a bit more about what they liked and what they didn’t like about school, about homework, where they wanted to go in the weekend.
After two days of observation I am very curious and would like to keep hearing and understanding them more. I think I will try to be friends with them, and invite them to design with me some activities to understand more what they think and what they like.
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