The goal of our five day course is to instruct professional anthropologists in the use of a variety of behavior measurement methods employed in a naturalistic or field setting — many of which are commonly used in the behavioral, medical, and social sciences — that are useful in empirically answering a variety of questions of anthropological interest. Methods range from traditional direct observations to time diary techniques to newer computer mediated recordings. Research questions include, for example, shifting patterns of work and leisure, changes in the division of labor, infant and caretaker interactions, conversational topics, food and labor exchanges, and behavior variation according to different social and locational contexts. In addition, we maintain a supplemental course web site containing Power Points of some of our lectures, articles we have written on behavior observation, data entry forms, SPSS data bases of behavior observations from our own research, and other useful documents. These resources should be useful for anyone who teaches anthropological methods.
Our general goal is to familiarize participants with the kinds of behavior data that have been collected using a variety of approaches, including:
- Time allocation: husband and wife division of labor
- Locational analysis: where people spend their time and what they do
- Student behavior in a classroom setting.
- Energy expenditure and ecology
- New technology: the use of smart phones to track behavior
- Social groups and patterns of association of friends, family, and kin
- What do people talk about during social interactions
- The nature of doctor and patient interaction and medical surveillance
We will begin with an overview of behavioral approaches focusing on their strengths, weaknesses and suitability for answering certain kinds of research questions. We then will turn to sessions dedicated to survey methods, sampling issues, systematic spot or instantaneous sampling of behavior, continuous monitoring of behavior, and computer-assisted approaches to collecting behavioral data in the field. We will also consider the issue of behavior classification and coding. Dividing a behavior stream into discrete kinds of behavior is not a task to be taken lightly. We will familiarize students to a variety of standard behavior classifications and the kinds of research questions upon which they are based. During the course, participants will collect behavioral data using the methods of recall, survey and direct observation (spot and continuous), construct behavior classifications or codes of the collected data, and practice analyzing their data using SPSS. A free, 14-day trial version of SPSS can be downloaded here. Alternatively, your university may be able to provide you with an inexpensive site license for the software. For those who need to refresh their statistical skills, we recommend Statistics for People Who (Think They) Hate Statistics, by Neil J. Salkind. This book teaches basic statistics and how to use SPSS.
On the final afternoon of the course participants will also be asked to make an informal presentation in which they outline a specific behavioral research project they anticipate investigating in the future, using one or a combination of the approaches presented in the course.
The course readings are hyper-linked on the schedule. Readings with bullets in black print and not hyper-linked are optional.
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