Int Seminar 2: Zeisel: reflection + do’s and don’t’s

The text Inquiry By Design: Tools for Environment-Behaviour Research by John Zeisel, provided with a lot of information on how to observe the environment, different ways to analyze data, tools for physical traces and many more. I learned that there are different ways to study and explore methods when collecting data.

Last week, we got the chance to observe our site and I chose to visit Yorkville on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. My intention of “observing” the area was to use a recording device, camera, and my mind to capture my experience at the location. Not knowing the exact strategy to investigate the details of Yorkville, I did not use a notepad to draw a diagram or any layout of the area I was observing if I had drawn them then it would have helped me with visualizing the location without backtracking my trip. Learning from Zeisel’s text, I am reminded to use all of the strategies to examine an area.

When observing physical traces, I should:

  • be aware of the people in that environment; look for their attitude and behavior when they’re talking or walking. Any type of interaction could be a possible trace. If a person does not act normally, examine their behavior would give a hint to the subject matter. Take notes on their behavior and body movement
  • If it is not too awkward, using a camera to capture the scene
  • Use a recording device to track the moment
  • When doing group discussions with the same site visit, it is important to share the photographs because it allows us to compare the site and discuss the different views/perspectives

When observing physical traces, I should not:

– Engage with the situation, be a silent observer. Interaction is not always the best idea depending on the circumstance. 

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