Journals are personal documents that chronicle an individual's life experience and impressions. In the context of field research, journals provide an ongoing documentation of your research activities. You will keep a journal that provides (1) your responses to course activities and materials, (2) documentation of your field assignments and original research, and (3) regular communication between instructor and student regarding coursework.
Readings. I have selected readings to broaden your understanding of rural diversity and research methodology. You are expected to record your responses to each assigned reading. These journal entries are designed to encourage your systematic reflection on the readings in preparation for class discussion; they do not take the place of outlines or content summaries that you might prepare.
Your responses should include three components. First, identify what is in your mind the central issue raised by the author. What key idea or ideas do you come away with from the reading? Second, generate questions that might be a fruitful starting place for class discussion. Third, identify project ideas that might give direction to our work in the field. How does this reading help us to conceptualize rural diversity or develop a cogent research strategy?
Assignments. Class assignments are focused exercises to help you begin the research process. You are expected to write reports on all assignments that include detailed information on your experiences and critical discussion of the adequacy and appropriateness of the methods employed.
Research. As the year progresses, your effort will increasingly be devoted to original, independent research. Your journals will provide a detailed account of your activities, complete documentation of your research (i.e., copies of original materials, interview transcripts, fieldnotes), and critical assessment of your approach. In essence, your journal is to become a personal activities log with respect to your research. Ideally, as your instructor, I should be able to assemble a comprehensive description and progress report of your work from the cumulative content of your journal without missing so much as a phone call, interview, or trip to an archive.
In addition to (or in the course of) these specific entries, I encourage you to record other thoughts which might be stimulated by the course. Something said in class may generate a new question or bring together thoughts previously unconnected in your mind. An aspect of the course material may be unclear to you. Record your reactions, too, to the course pedagogy--did you find a class particularly stimulating or disorganized, or was an assignment especially provocative or difficult to complete?
Your journal book should be an 8 ½" x 11" loose-leaf notebook, large enough to accommodate your research as well as your reactions over the course of the semester. You are encouraged to make generous use of section dividers to separate the materials you accumulate into sensible sections. To begin, insert dividers that separate entries on readings, assignments, and research. As the year progresses, you will likely want to add additional divisions.
Place a label on the outside cover identifying the notebook as your journal. The inside cover page should include the following information: (1) your name, (2) your telephone number (3) your e-mail address, (4) course number and title, (5) the year in which the course is taught, and (6) the professor's name.
Begin each entry with the date (month/day/year) and a complete reference. In the case of readings, provide the standard bibliographic citation. Primary research documents, interview transcripts, and other observations require analogous information. Refer to The Chicago Manual of Style for guidelines on content and style.
All entries should be typed, single-spaced, with a ragged right margin. Be sure
to maintain several backup copies of journal materials (something that is easily accomplished with computerized
word processing), especially your original research. You will be filing copies of your reports throughout the year
on the computer in the Rural Life Center research room.
I will collect journals for my comment and evaluation at the conclusion of each Thursday class meeting. Journals turned in after this time will automatically be penalized one full letter grade for each day or portion thereof that the journal is late. You may pick up your journal each Monday anytime after noon in the Rural Life Center research room.
My evaluation will be made with respect to three questions. Is the journal current and complete with regard to coursework? To what degree do journal entries provide a substantively sound examination of the material at hand? What level of engagement with course material is reflected in your responses?