Observing Hispanic Serving Institutions i in Chicago. Analytic Memo 1 #PhDLife

Making sense of my experience learning ethnographic research Part 1

  1. I recently traveled to Chicago to observe Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) as part of a research project leaded by the amazing Gina García.
  2. I joined this project as a way to learn to do qualitative research. During my PhD training I have had a HUGE focus on how to do quantitative research. However I felt that understanding qualitative research and learning it will allow me to improve as a researcher. First, it would force me to get out of my comfort zone and learn a new way to approach knowledge. And second, as I attempt to have an intersectional focus on my quantitative research I believe it was important that I immersed myself in the methodology that gave birth to this framework.
  3. This experience was so daunting at first and I was not sure how to approach it. After reading the following tips Gina gave me I had an idea!
  4. As this was a totally new experience for me, and as many of my twitter followers are not social scientists I thought it would be fun to share this experience with them as it unfolded. So I live tweeted my observations and my live notes! However, another critical part of doing qualitative research (and a practice I actually have applied to my own quant research) is to write Analytic Memos.
  5. It is basically looking at the notes, pictures stuff you collected through your observation and take a stab to look for patterns and put your thoughts in order. It is not meant to be an "END" or "final analysis" it is meant to be a construction piece of a big puzzle. So this post will focus on how I am using my tweets to make an Analytic Memo! Again the goal is to share with people who are not familiar with this methodology a peak into what is like to do qualitative research.
  6. If you google what an Hispanic Serving institution (HSI) is the first result you will get is:
  7. Where on of the key characteristics is: Have at least a 25% Hispanic undergraduate full-time-equivalent student enrollment. As I said before this is the way the federal government has named this designation. I personally prefer "Latinx" over "Hispanic" but that is too much to cover in this post.
  8. Now that we agree on what an HSI is let's move onto my analytic memo:
  9. We left downtown and took the Metro towards the first site. This institution has main campus and several satellite locations. The satellite locations are designed to serve the surrounding community. The first thing I noticed was how the neighborhood vibe was so different not only from downtown Chicago but also from my experience living in Pittsburgh
  10. Several places had signs in Spanish! It was so weird to me... it was like being transported back home. But at the same time this came with knowing I was not home. Not only that with understanding myself as an immigrant latinx that came here to study a PhD, that is that my immigrant experience is very different from the people in this neighborhood and that I had to be very conscious if my privilege to actually allow the voice of this location to speak for itself.
  11. The first thing I noticed was how flyers in this satellite location were all bilingual
  12. So the first thing you get just by stepping into this location is that the population is bilingual. That students will have varying degrees of English proficiency and that one has to wonder how the site director handles this challenge to really serve the population. Turns out they have a really neat system where students that are not proficient in English start with language lessons, then move to bilingual classes and before they know it they are taking classes in English! And I will talk about this English lessons on the next memo.
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