Spotlight: Anthropology Methods Tutorials

This spring, Assistant Professor of Anthropology Tess Farmer asked her students to create video tutorials in Powtoons. Check out the final videos submitted to students below!


This project is designed to explain and highlight the helpfulness and uses of Mind-Maps. Mind Maps are versions of brainstorms that focus on foundational aspects of the topic being discussed. The maps also clarify the connections between factors of the main topic. Subtopics within the primary focus of the project and their connections to the other subtopics can be elucidated by drawing connection lines and labeling them with in the maps. Once connections are drawn, a Mind-Map begins looking somewhat like a spider web. At the center of the web remains the topic or thesis of the project or essay and the subtopics and points around it act as a sort of landing pad for the topic to connect with and to help in descriptions and more accessible means of grasping the concepts.

One key difference between Mind-Maps and regular brainstorms is that instead of the 5W’s, who, what, when, where, and why, that are used in brainstorming, Mind-Maps use the 4 P’s, Purpose, Perspective, People, Problem as a guide for creating the maps. Mind Maps can be for research projects, essays, and presentations, among other things. When used well, they can be effective tools for extrapolating on topics. A great aspect of Mind Maps is how they are a helpful resource for spilling unorganized ideas onto a page and then visually organizing them. Mind-Maps aid in the development of mental framework for the concepts within a given topic be comprehensible with the people viewing it. Mind-Maps used in research projects can help to clarify the connections between subtopics and ideas within a certain map. This is a tutorial on how to mind map simple or complex projects, and a chance to see how useful this tool can be.

By Elaine Lo and Krista Brockman


This Powtoons video attempts to provide a helpful reference for creating surveys as an ethnographic method when doing research.  This video draws upon research from a variety of online sources that help to provide a description of what a survey is and why it is important when doing research, as well as suggestions on how to design the survey. This focus will examine topics that include, understanding when it is appropriate to conduct a survey, how to establish goals for the survey, selecting your sample, tips to avoid biases, meeting your quota, the advantages and disadvantages to consider when choosing an interview methodology.

By Malik Campbell and Madison Brinnon


Today we will be discussing the use of interviews for research purposes. If you are assigned a research project in a class or are conducting independent research, conducting an interview or interviews may serve to be an essential tool to understanding and adding depth to your project or research. Once you have selected a topic, say WWII, it is important to consider who it would be best to interview, for this example perhaps a veteran. If you are conducting this interview as part of independent research, it is critical to complete and submit an Institutional Review Board (IRB) form; the purpose of this form is to ensure that no harm or trauma is brought to the interviewee(s). With keeping ethics in mind, consider if the person or people you are interviewing is of a vulnerable population. If so, then try to avoid questions that may make your interviewee(s) feel uncomfortable or cause or further trauma. When considering what kinds of questions to ask your interviewee(s), it is important to construct questions that will allow your interviewee to speak. Utilizing prompts to steer your interviewees in the right direction are helpful. Provided that you have selected who to interview, constructed your questions and completed an IRB form is needed you are ready to begin your recorded interview.


By Noelle, Shannon, and Gaby

Ethnographic Field Notes

Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes by Robert M. Emerson, Rachel I. Fretz, and Linda L. is the main tool in which we used to extract our research with this project. This book presents a series of guidelines, suggestions, and practical advice for creating useful fieldnotes in a variety of settings. This gives a wide range of underlying themes on how to write as well as understand fieldnotes. Using different chapters as different focus points enabled us to concentrate on how anthropologists are composing, reviewing, and working fieldnotes into thoughtful ideas. They discuss different organizational and descriptive strategies and show how transforming direct observations into vivid descriptions and those do not simply stem from good memory but from learning to envision scenes in which you write. A good ethnographer, they demonstrate, must “learn to remember dialogue and movement like an actor, to see colors and shapes like a painter, and to sense moods and rhythms like a poet”. As a result, this book embodies anthropology as a whole by incorporating all these ideas such as race, class, and gender and in depth sections on coding programs and revising first drafts, and provided new examples of working notes. Our Powtoons Project wasn’t too difficult because this book provided so much information on our subject which was great because we didn’t have to argue who was right and who was wrong on certain subjects. This topic and


By Gen and Jake

Focus Groups

Focus groups are a gathering of specific people, who contribute in a collective group interview/discussion. This method method  can be used when acquiring data for an ethnography and they focus on social interactions. The focus group approach for collecting qualitative data can be effectively applied in cross-cultural, social and behavioral studies. Through focus group interviews, collective data gathering is facilitated as researchers can gather data to be analyzed to discover more representative definitions of cultural or social concepts, beliefs, perceptions, opinions, and attitudes. Through this digital media tutorial on conducting focus group research potential participants will learn when and how this method should be utilized, application based question development, and the ethics to consider when developing your own focus group project.