Research Courses at Dartmouth
This term, I'm taking a class unlike any other that I've taken at Dartmouth! "Anthropology 18: Research Methods in Cultural Anthropology" is an anthropology course that is completely research and project-based. In other words, instead of traditional exams or essays, the course is fully centered around one student-created research project, and we have ten weeks to bring the project to life and write an analytical paper about it at the end of the course. Throughout the term, the class is designed to guide students through the various stages of their research projects, with checkpoints, check-in sessions, and workshops to provide students support.
Since the class is completely self-led, students are at liberty to choose any topic for their research project. For my project, I am looking at identity formation in first-generation low-income juniors. In other words, I'm interested in how being first-generation and low-income at Dartmouth impacts students' Dartmouth experience and how that affects their personality, values, morals, interests, and other aspects of identity. A lot of my research consists of in-depth interviews with first-generation low-income students, giving me the opportunity to hear about their individual experiences. Once the interviews are finished, I will have to transcribe them and see if there are patterns/relationships between the responses. I'm really excited to see what sort of trends I can find, and I'm also glad that I'll have the opportunity to share my findings with the first-generation office.
A lot of my classmates are doing completely different projects. Many of them are using participant observation as their data collection method, which means that they are spending time carefully observing public places to see how people use them. Other students are doing interviews over Zoom with people from across the country, showing the versatility of what kind of projects students can be involved in. In class, we have the opportunity to learn about each others' projects and give feedback at different stages of the research process. I really enjoy this, as it gives me the opportunity to learn more about what others are doing and learn from their process.
Since the class is primarily self-led, there is a lot of responsibility on me to stay on track and make sure that I'm making steady progress on my project, especially due to the fast-paced ten-week term. This allows me to schedule my project development around my classes, work, and other commitments, but it also can be a challenge to make sure that I'm staying on pace. However, the research skills I'm picking up will be useful in so many different aspects of my life, which is why I'm glad I have the opportunity to take the course.
Overall, I'm glad that I've been able to enjoy a different sort of course this term! As the term wraps up, it's time for me to start constructing my final research paper for the class—it'll definitely be a busy end to the fall quarter!