Alexander Brooks                                                                                


Writing for Social Sciences

Professor Furlong

The projects in this class taught me a lot about research and interviewing individuals to get information that could  be used for my various assignments. I try to start my assignments on Monday and work on them throughout the week,  particularly with the ethnography paper. My favorite assignment was the ethnography paper, because of the people I got to interview and the subject matter I chose to report on.  Most of my interviews were done the week before our last in-person class. I had a lot of fun with the interviews and the exchange between myself and the interviewee took on a certain energy based on the person, especially the ones I conducted for my ethnography.

My observationas had a lot to do with going to different events, observing them and also interviewing some of the people connected to the events that I chose to observe. Observing an event in-person is much more interesting and engaging, than watching something virtually. Being in the midst of what is happening in real time helped me to remember certain details that were important to my gathering of information. It seemed to stick in my mind and I could formulate my thoughts and feelings about the subject more freely. Observing an event virtually did not feel as natural and I would find myself listening to it over again. I have come to the conclusion when working on a research project, that I prefer to observe in-person and gather information from a real live source. I gained so much from conducting the interviews throughout the different assignments given in this class.

 My second favorite assignment in this class is my personal artifact essay. I was able to learn a lot from my family and gather information from them about a time that they actually lived through and a culture that shaped them. I am glad I chose this family artifact to add to my research topic, that was so important to my grandmother because it showed me how people’s attachments to places and things can tell you a lot about them and the culture they grew up in. Ongoing conversations with my grandmother and my mom proved to be very informative and eye-opening into the world of coal miners. The wealth of information I gathered about our family’s past and how the Miners affected us is so very powerful, even though the mines shut down and they went on to find other work in various careers. 

The research assignment was pretty standard, but very exciting because it was directly tied to my family’s history. I have done assignments like this before, but this one was a little challenging getting sources for the project, only because my subject was a little niche. I started researching coal mining towns and the coal mining town where my grandmother grew up, as well as the coal mining companies my family worked in. Then, I was able to find more subject matter that expanded my view of this culture and community of people. Continuing my efforts to find more information on my topic for the assignment began to get easier as I pushed through it. 

All in all, making the choice to take this summer class has taught me a lot about writing papers in general. I found it very helpful the way assignments were broken down and it gave me a chance to digest each writing style. Learning this way helped me to be able to really understand and process what I needed to do to complete the assignments. One of the exercises that helped me improve my writing was the short free writing exercises we did at the beginning of class. This writing exercise got me  thinking a lot more about essay writing in general and how I will  go about writing in my future classes, it’s been really informative.