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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Indigenous Education Worldwide
 

A Film Study of Classrooms

in Western Alaska

PART THREE
METHODOLOGY

This chapter is devoted to a brief discussion of methodological issues related to the use of film in research. While this discussion is focused on the use of film, most of the comments are equally relevant to the use of video--providing that there is an awareness of the differences between the two mediums. A brief comment on the differences between film and video is included as part of this section.

General Considerations

The purpose of using film as a means of recording and analyzing cultural processes is to understand more fully the dynamics of nonverbal interaction. The most important characteristic of film records is that they record complex relationships and detail, freezing these for prolonged study at a later time. The unaided observer cannot compete with the observer with a camera because the human eye and brain cannot hold relationships and details unchanged for future use. Equally important, the camera is less selective than the eye in several important respects. Within technical limitations, everything in the frame is recorded as equally important. The eye alone focuses first on this event, then on that event. Once the event has passed, it is gone. For this reason it is difficult to perceive complex interrelationships with the eye alone except through intimate experience. With intimate experience the knowledge is personal, and difficult to validate to others who do not share the experience. Properly made and analyzed, film can objectify the immense human ability to perceive and interpret significance in complex and seemingly unrelated cultural phenomena.

The proper use of film requires that the film be made and analyzed in a manner which combines the camera’s potential to record relationships and detail with the human capability to perceive pattern and significance in complex behavior and events. The purpose of this section is to discuss some approaches and procedures which are designed to move toward an achievement of these ends. Its focus is on work which involves handling relatively large quantities of visual data. In these circumstances, the time-consuming and relatively static techniques of microanalysis are generally impossible and inappropriate.

Data Gathering with the Camera

The camera is an aid to observation, not its replacement. The basic and most common means we have of gathering data is our own eye because it is something we do all the time and for which no equipment is required. The value of a camera and the film it produces lies in its potential to refine our normal and habitual day-to-day perception of what we see. Data gathering with the camera should therefore be approached as a form of observation in which the camera can be considered a somewhat expensive pencil with which we make visual notes. The quality of our notes will depend not on the equipment but on the quality of our observation at the time the film was made.

This emphasis on the camera as an adjunct to human observation raises the issue of “objectivity.” As anthropologists and other social scientists have become involved with the study of visual anthropology, they have been shocked by the discovery that photographic images (stills, film, or video) are not, strictly speaking, “objective.” They have discovered what photographers have known for a hundred years--that “cameras don’t take pictures, people do.” Many discussions have centered around the implications of this fact.

The discussions generally appear to operate on the assumption that there must be a way to film a cultural process without “distortion” caused by the cultural filters of the cameraman or the presence of the equipment. The debates are not unlike arguments on how to draw a random sample, a problem that has a technological or procedural solution. Realistically, as well as philosophically, there is in fact no such solution in data gathering with the camera. “Distortion” is both inevitable and potentially useful. It can provide a viewpoint without which the record would be unintelligible. The production of useful film records of cultural processes requires responsible exploitation of our biases combined with a sensitivity to other viewpoints which further illuminate our research findings. It is highly irresponsible to pretend to make an objective film record.

Because the camera is no more than an aid to observation, the process of recording with the camera should focus on observation rather than on technological conventions of the film industry. These conventions are culturally determined and directed toward the production of entertainment film rather than toward obtaining a research record. It may never be able to make an “objective” record, but the fastest way to make film that is totally biased and useless for research is to try to make one that looks like what is seen on television or in the movie theatre.

Good observation with the camera requires some discipline and direction, often provided by a set of defined questions. Just as a good interviewer must be ready to follow up on unanticipated subjects which develop in the course of an interview, the observer must also try to be aware of the total context and be ready to move off in new directions when unanticipated events or actions occur. The purpose of having defined questions and concerns is to force us to observe in an organized fashion. Without this organization, it is very easy to make chaotic and useless records. What are we trying to find out? What are we looking for? These are starting points for a journey into the unknown, the points of reference without which we can become lost in the complex multi-dimensional jungle of human behavior and culture.

There are a few technological features of film which should be considered when recording with the camera if a full exploitation of the film’s potential is to be made. In particular, the ability of film to record both context and detail at one and the same time--a feat impossible for the unaided observer--should not be forgotten. Far too many researchers are seduced by the zoom lenses of modern cameras into making records composed exclusively of tight shots which show detail but little context. Occasionally, these records may be artistically and emotionally satisfying, but their research value is almost nil. Responsible analysis of film requires contextual information, a record of overall relationships, patterns, and contrasts. If there is doubt as to whether to make a close-up shot or a wide shot, it is almost always preferable to make the wide shot.

These comments lead to the one firm rule of film observation which I would suggest--shoot film in as inclusive a manner as possible. Make a consistent effort to record context and process, the spacial and temporal surroundings of the circumstance under study. This can be done by shooting many wide shots and careful panning of the camera to define the context of the focal point of interest. Making an attempt to record what goes before and what goes after the event is necessary even if there is no apparent connection or significance at the time. Later analysis may reveal connections and processes which you did not see. If the footage is not shot in an inclusive manner, these discoveries will never be made. Above all, do not restrict the recording to tight shots which show individuals or details apart from their surroundings. The details can often be read in a wide shot., but the surroundings cannot be seen outside the frame of a tight shot.

Beyond these simple suggestions, the basic process should concentrate on observing as carefully as if there were no camera. The precise nature of what to record and how to record is in large part determined by the subject matter and the reasons for investigating it. Subject to the above comments, the camera is used to record what is considered to be significant. If there is uncertainty about what is significant, record those situations which you think might contain significant data even if it is not apparent at the time. These decisions can be guided by past experience, other people’s work, and by other people, whether they be the ones present or others in the field.

Filming should be done delicately and in an unobtrusive manner. Just how to do this is not easy to describe. What works for one person will not work for another. Perhaps the basic principle is not to confuse roles; be an observer, not a direct participant. The camera can, in fact, be an asset in this role definition for a number of reasons. It provides a clear and understandable function, “taking pictures.” Unlike the usual observer, one can always look “busy” so that the participants do not feel obligated to draw you into their activities or can as readily use you as a source of assistance or diversion. The role and the camera allow you and them to ignore each other in situations which would ordinarily require a mutual acknowledgement of your presence. Exploitation of this “invisibility” requires a delicate touch which not everyone has. When in doubt, it is better to step back and concentrate on recording the overall relationships which are so important to film research. Regular discussion with staff concerning what disturbs the class and what does not can be an important guide to how you record.

On the other hand, improperly used cameras can be be very disruptive. This is particularly true when the equipment is used for aggressive, ego-centered self-expression. Ego, aggression, and self-expression have no place in film observation. The hit-and-run style of television news and documentary recording should never be copied. Look for signs of camera stress and disruption. If it occurs, step back, take your time, and start again slowly. The emphasis should be on observation. The results will be a particular point of view on the subject being filmed; another person would record it differently.

Analysis of Film Records

Film analysis is the process by which the film is mined for the information and understanding it can provide about the situations recorded on film. Many people shoot film. Many educators routinely accumulate video records of classrooms. However, very few of these records are ever analyzed in a systematic fashion and most are not analyzed at all. Film analysis is unromantic, time-consuming, and just plain hard work. Most people have no idea about how to do it and are further handicapped by viewing habits learned from watching television and theatre films. What I present here is an approach to analysis which should fit a wide variety of situations and individual needs.

The major problem faced in analysis of film is the immense amount of detail which is contained in visual records. The larger significance of the data is often lost because of the amount of detail. This problem is particularly acute in film of educational situations or applied field circumstances in which the volume of film is likely to be large and the range of variables uncontrolled in comparison to clinical film studies. There are a number of ways to deal with this problem of volume. The one suggested here represents what I feel to be the best way to exploit the special characteristics of film records.

Film, properly made, can record both infinite detail and complex contextual relationships. Most approaches to film analysis focus on the details, using preconceived probes and criteria to take the film record apart. In extreme form, these approaches involve detailed study and notation of each frame, commonly called micro-analysis. The difficulty in this approach is that it is primarily a static form of analysis which presupposes that the significance of the whole is to be found in the details of its parts. Human interaction and culture involve fluid processes in which multiple factors interact simultaneously. The significance of these is in their totality and not in their parts. Film analysis should start as a process which deals with these factors as wholes in movement.

Equally important, these structured approaches to analysis often fail to take advantage of the unknown. The contents of their findings are limited to those matters which were conceived before analysis was begun. One of the important features of film records is that they often record subjects and processes which were unthought of and even unseen at the time the film was shot. Many of the important moments and actions discussed in the analysis of the Alaskan film were unseen by the photographer when the film was made. They became apparent only during later analysis. Some provision must be made in analysis to increase the likelihood of discovering these unknowns.

Finally, highly structured approaches to analysis, particularly if centered on micro-analysis, make it quite difficult to handle a large quantity of film. This fact is not surprising since most of these approaches were developed for analysis of short pieces of film which recorded narrowly defined circumstances. These techniques are too time-consuming to be the primary analysis method for film studies of schools and other applied situations in which the film record is likely to be large, and indeed, should be large.

The solution which I suggest here involves an exploitation of the human ability to handle and make sense out of complex and seemingly unrelated details and interrelationships. Fine-grained analysis can be used to refine these perceptions. In discussing this methodological approach, I have also included some important, if mundane, procedural details which make analysis easier and more reliable.

Film analysis begins in the field with careful record keeping of what film was shot, when it was shot, and its temporal relationship to other film. This information is used to put the film together in the proper contextual order. If this is not done, it is likely that important errors will be made in analysis. As the film is processed and put together in proper order on larger reels, some kind of descriptive log should be made. This essential process is best done with a viewer that has a frame counter; otherwise, it can be done with a projector and a stop watch. The purpose is to create a rough index of the general contents of the film. This index serves several purposes. It begins the process of acquainting us with the film. It serves as a record of the order of the film in case sections get lost at a later data and must be returned to their proper location. If we are still in the process of shooting more film, the logging procedure can alert us to potentially important things we may be missing.

Formal analysis begins after all the film has been shot and logged. Film analysis is primarily a search for patterns and contrasts through a process of repeated viewing and comparison. It is based on the assumption that human behavior is patterned and that the significance of patterns of behavior can often be found through a study of the contexts in which they are present and absent.

The first phase of this search for patterns and significance is an unstructured immersion in the film record. Regardless of the specific research concerns of the film study, this first stage should be open-ended. The film should be viewed repeatedly and notes made of impressions and reactions. These notes should include notation of the portions which prompted these reactions and impressions as well as some indication of what specifically led to these reactions. This open viewing will often raise questions which may not have occurred before: these questions should be duly recorded. This repeated viewing should be continued until some overall patterns and significance are perceived and the film is totally familiar to the researcher(s).

The purpose of this open-ended viewing is to exploit the multidimensional character of visual data by applying the human ability to perceive pattern and meaning in complex interrelated details and processes. Important relationships, information, details and questions which might otherwise be missed can be discovered in this way and used to enrich and refine later stages of analysis.

The next phase of analysis is somewhat more structured in that it involves the application of specific questions and probes to the film record. The sources of these questions and probes are the original research concerns which led to the filming and whatever questions and patterns were developed out of open-ended viewing. For example, during open-ended analysis a pattern may have been perceived that “flow was much higher when Native children were in close proximity to a Native teacher.” This can be stated as a question, “Is flow higher when Native children were in close proximity to a Native teacher?” This question can be applied to every situation in which Native teachers and Native children were in close proximity. Other questions might be less specific, such as, “What types of classroom structures do Native children respond to best?” This question might involve looking at all the film. The key characteristic of this stage of analysis is that the film or portions of the film are viewed with a focus defined by one or a number of specific questions or concerns rather than in an open-ended manner. This focused viewing often brings out specific details and patterns which can be missed in more open analysis. It is also the first stage of defining and validating more general statements of patterns and significance. As always, careful notes should be kept of reactions, impressions, conclusions, and the portions of the footage which triggered them.

The next phase of analysis is structured analysis of selected portions of film with the purpose of testing and defining the findings of the first two stages. The film is studied with the question, “What told me that?” The film to be examined is identified as triggering particular responses or conclusions in the first two phases. If these instances can be located, then specific, visible aspects of movement, expression, spacial relationships and time can be described as they relate to earlier impressions. These impressions cease to be impressions and become tangible statements which can be tested.

The testing is done by examining all portions of the film in which particular impressions or conclusions were triggered to see if, in fact, the identifiable variables are consistently present, and, if so, in what way. An overview of other sections of film can be performed to see if these particular combinations of variables or patterns are to be found in other situations. The context in which they are found can be examined as well as the context in which they are absent. This contextual information is important in defining and confirming the significance of these patterns.

This structured analysis will often involve using the standard techniques of ohoto analysis: counting, measuring, inventory, and comparison (Collier, 1g67). Questions and concerns which are primarily descriptive in nature can be resolved by using these techniques right from the start, i.e., the question, “What is the variation of the seating arrangement?” Using these techniques, more complex patterns and conclusions can be examined. However, tangible and identifying criteria must be agreed upon initially.

The purpose of this detailed analysis is both to define the criteria of analysis and to provide the details which make the conclusions believable. Occasionally, this detailed study will show that certain patterns and conclusions in earlier phases of analysis are no more than creative projections onto the film. Careful study of the film question, “What told me that?” is the key to responsible film analysis. However, there will be occasions for which we will not be able to answer the question by reference to specific details; yet, we remain certain that our interpretations of patterns and significance are correct. In these situations, it may be necessary to review the film in a more open fashion and look to see if the key to our perceptions lies in fluid interrelationships rather than in details. These relationships should be described as well as possible; they are just as valid as specifics of hand gestures and spacial adjustments.

It is probably wise to end any major analysis of the film with an overview of all the film in a relatively unstructured manner. In this way, the insights gained from the combination of different stages of analysis can be applied to the film as a whole and the general significance of the work can be defined as a totality rather than as a collection of details.

This general approach could be applied in a variety of ways. The film can be studied by the participants seen in the film, by those who made the film, by others in the community, by outsiders with their own particular perspectives, or by some team composed of all these individuals. One of the important features of film records is that they can be seen and discussed by many different people, each with his own perspective. This process can help qualify the particular biases and viewpoints of those who made and analyzed the film. In practice, it will not always be possible or necessary to follow through the procedures of analysis in the detail suggested here. The important process is the principle of movement from open-ended viewing to more structured analysis which includes answering the question, “What told me that?” and, with this analysis, move back again to the whole.

Film , Video or Stills?

This study was done with Super 8 film, and my discussion of methodology has centered around the use of film. While many of these comments would be equally applicable to gathering and analyzing data with a still camera or video equipment, it may be appropriate to comment on the characteristics of these different tools as they relate to applied visual research.

The still camera is an important tool for visual research, but because it lacks the glamour of film and video, it is seldom used. It is excellent for many documentary uses: surveys, mapping, inventory, proxemic studies, and in skilled hands, certain kinds of communication studies. Its chief limitation is that it does not show motion or change in process. The result is that analysis of behavior and communication with still photographs requires a great deal of projection by the researcher as to what happens between images. This projection leaves much room for error. It is difficult to reliably read the quality and character of interactions from most still photographs. Despite these limitations, still cameras could be used far more than they are with a little imagination and effort. They are a general, low cost, durable and flexible means of recording, and they can be used in the most remote and demanding field situations.

Video has the potential for instant feedback, recycling tape, easy duplication, excellent sound, and in certain restricted situations, low cost. It has serious deficiencies as a tool for visual research analysis because of the relatively poor image quality. In practice, the equipment encourages one to restrict shooting to telephoto or close-up shots because the image quality in wide angle shots is so poor. As a result, contextual information is generally lacking in video records. This problem cannot be compensated for by deliberate wide shooting; such shots are generally unreadable due to poor resolution. The equipment is bulky, heavy, and fragile. It cannot be used extensively remote from sources of AC power and it does not handle climatic extremes well. For these reasons, it is a poor field tool. Finally, the capital investment for even the barest essential equipment is immense, particularly when allowance is made for future maintenance costs.

Video is best suited for situations in which its strengths are important and its weaknesses insignificant. Institutional settings in which the equipment is used heavily and tapes are recycled are an example of such a situation. It is particularly useful in situations where sound and rapid feedback are important and detailed analysis is not anticipated. It is an excellent tool for use in circumstances in which there is a high degree of participant involvement in the recording process. (R. Rundstrom: private communication.) From a research perspective, its most promising use might be in studies which are interested in verbal analysis supplemented by synchronized visual data. In such a situation, its limitations in visual recording would be less critical.

The alternative to video is Super 8 motion picture film. 16mm offers few research advantages over Super 8 and costs far more. The Super 8 image records both context and detail and is far superior to the video image for analysis purposes. Readily available equipment allows single frame, frame by frame, slow motion, high speed and normal speed viewing. This flexibility is quite valuable in analysis. The high contextual and detail content of properly shot Super 8 makes it an ideal means of visual research, and the image is much less exhausting to work with. It is probably the best tool for use in isolated field situations and in work which requires clear and permanent records for careful detailed analysis.

The basic equipment necessary for visual research with Super 8 costs much less than equivalent equipment for video and is much more compact and portable. With some planning and minor equipment alterations, shooting and certain types of viewing can be done for extended periods of time in situations remote from an AC power source.

The major disadvantages of Super 8 are that film cannot be recycled, film must be processed before viewing, and the use of sync sound increases the costs considerably. A resourceful individual might solve the handicaps of the processing problem by doing his own, but this is more than most people can be expected to do. As a result, the film must be sent to a lab for processing which leads to considerable delay in remote locations. While excellent quality sync sound is possible with Super 8, the extended runs possible with video cannot be duplicated with film except at great cost. However, roughly synchronized audio tapes can be made for very little cost. Efficient use of Super 8 requires more selective shooting. This may require a more skilled observer behind the camera.

On a practical level, film and video should be seen as complementary, rather than as competing, mediums which lend themselves to different uses. On a personal level, I find video, with which I have worked extensively, to be very unsatisfying to shoot and frustrating to look at. There is a sensation that the technology is in control, independent of the dynamics of what is in front of the camera and my own desires as an observer/recorder. Other people love it.

Application of Methodology to a Hypothetical Situation

I have just described a very general procedure to gathering and analyzing data on cultural processes with a movie camera. How might this procedure be applied to a specific purpose--the further exploration of pace and flow, for example? How would the film or tape be shot? How would it be analyzed? How would the information or understandings obtained be made useful to others? A short discussion of a hypothetical situation might make the general procedures already presented more intelligible.

The site of this study is a cross-cultural school setting in a state of change from traditional Anglo-oriented curriculum, faculty, and goals to new goals, still uncertain, which it is hoped will be more appropriate to the children the school serves. The purpose of our hypothetical film study is to aid the school through this transition. Its specific aims are limited to an exploration of pace and flow in the school and the significance of these patterns with regard to some specific concerns of the school staff. Our discussions with them have told us that they are particularly worried about how the three cultural groups of students in the classes get along with each other, with the teachers, and how they respond to a new program of instruction that the school has started.

We want to know the answers to several questions: (1) How do the children get along with each other? (2) How do they interrelate with the different teachers and aides? (3) How do they respond to the new program (which is carried on half of each day) in comparison with the more conventional program which the school is continuing to provide? (4) Do the pace and flow patterns of the classes provide any answers to these questions? The school has some video equipment left over from a defunct federally funded program. We decide to use that equipment later in the study but we start with Super 8, which is less bulky and intrusive than the video equipment. We buy some audio cassettes to get some roughly synchronized sound to go with the film.

Where are we going to aim our camera? What are we looking for? What classes and circumstances are we going to focus on? We don’t know anything about the classes and the staff does not have a clear enough conception of what we are doing to guide us. We decide to use all our Super 8 on a general survey of every class that it is possible for us to film. Although we have the blessing of the school administration, we make a point of asking each teacher and aide if he or she is willing to be filmed. Two teachers and one aide (in different classes) would rather not be filmed, but the aide says it’s all right to film the class as long as we take no pictures of him. We are secretly relieved since this leaves only six classes and we will not have to be quite as stingy with our shooting. We arrange to be in each class for a full day.

We have our questions and we know we will want to look for situations in the classes that might give us answers. We want a variety of shots of children interacting with each other or, on occasion, not interacting. We want shots of the teachers and aides with the children in groups and individually. We will devote a portion of our film to the reactions of the children to various aspects of the program, new and old. We will run our camera every time we see something we think might tell us something about our questions, and the general character of the program, within the limitations of the camera and the amount of film remaining for the day. We will also try to spread our shooting over the day because we know from past experience that different classes have different patterns at different times of the day. Something really important may come up in the last half hour. We make a point to record the beginning and ending of each period of the day.

When we have finished, we show the film back to the classes. This is mainly for the benefit of the children, as the teachers are too busy keeping track of the class to really look at the film. The aides are non-committal and the children are amused, especially when the film is shown in fast motion. However, the teachers miss having clear synchronized sound and a clear visual narrative thread. They have credentials and have been trained to be sensitive to verbal input that is organized and sequential. They are unprepared to handle the amorphous and somewhat chaotic images of uncut semi-silent film. As adults in a society with movies and television, they have expectations as to what “film” is supposed to look like. We begin to wish we had used video to start with.

We would like to go over each class with the aides and teachers but most of them are not yet interested. Those who are, are honestly too busy. We put this important process off to a time when we can be more coherent about what is in the film and how it might be useful. The film is logged and a preliminary open analysis is made. After several viewings of the film we think we see some interesting patterns. In particular, the response patterns of the students seem to suggest that the aides are superior to the teachers in their communication with the students. We also note that the Anglo students, who are a minority in the classes, react negatively to instruction that is not presented in English. We record these patterns and the behavior which defines them for us; these notes will be used to develop questions and probes for further analysis. We know now that we will be looking with particular interest at the differences between aides and teachers.

Next, with our specific questions, we begin a more structured analysis which focuses on the film. We look at the children interacting. Who is interacting with whom? What is the nature of those interactions? Are they smooth, rough, extended, brief, frequent, infrequent? How fast are the children paced? Are there clear patterns of pace differences between groups of students? Is the pace consistent? Does pacing seem to affect interactions? The same questions are asked of the teachers and aides in their relationship with the children. We also look to see if there are patterns in the way they pace the school program. We look at student response to the new and old school curriculum and structures. Are there differences in responses? Do some children respond to one, others to the other? Which children respond to which? Do different teachers structure and pace the programs differently? How does it affect the children’s responses? What did we see that provides us with the answers to these questions? What told us that?

We look with special interest at the aides. What do they do that is different? Is it their pace, their movements? Do they organize and structure their lesson differently? How do they use time? Where do they place children for lessons and how do they bring them into the lessons? What do they do about disciplinary problems? In what ways are they different from the teachers with regard to these issues?

Out of this process we arrive at some preliminary ideas as to some answers to the four main questions. After staring at the same section of film three days in a row, we are grateful that we did not use video. We also discover that we didn’t see a lot when we were filming. We kept cutting the camera at the wrong time, failed to focus in on important events and left a lot of questions without data to provide answers. We also develop new questions which might help us answer our basic questions. We would like to go back and do some more shooting, but first we have to find out if we are on the right track. We cull out sections of film which have significant information, or about which we have questions. We take these down to the school and show this footage to some of the staff. We find we made some mistakes in analysis, usually from lack of specific information about the children and the program, which alter our interpretations of the film. The staff now has a somewhat clearer idea of what can come out of the film, but they want public relations footage to show to visitors and parents: that is, a tangible product with a purpose. We suggest that a video tape would be better since they can put a narration on it, and it will have better synchronization of sound. It is agreed that some of the classes will be video taped with the dual purpose of providing something they can show to the public and also providing material for further exploration of our original questions.

This time, our shooting procedure changes somewhat. We are familiar with the basic program of the school and have some idea of the patterns of non-verbal behavior that can be found. The preliminary analysis has suggested that the children in Class Two are more harmonious and comfortable in their relationships with each other and with the teacher than the other classes. There also seems to be some connection between the teacher’s manner of presenting lessons in the new curriculum to the children and the children’s interaction with each other. We decide to concentrate our taping on Class Two and Class Five (which seems to be distinctly different from Class Two). We also decide to tape the initial presentation of lessons in several other classes. We make some video tapes to meet the needs of the school’s request for something to show the public. Since we are shooting video tape, our shooting patterns have changed somewhat. Our runs are longer and we are more likely to make more camera cuts in accordance with verbal breaks. There is less in-the-camera editing. This will mean more work in analysis later.

When this session of recording is complete, we dub off a program for the school ës use after showing the tapes back to the staff and asking them what they want in the tape. We then make a quick log of the tapes and another quick analysis. The earlier, tentative conclusions are altered somewhat, but what is especially clear is that we will have to get the teachers and aides more involved in the interpretation of the visual record. We manage to interest several persons to sit down with us and look at sections of the tape with some of the questions we have been using as probes. We ask them for their answers. More importantly, we ask for what things they saw that gave them those answers. The discussions lead to more taping, this time with more guidance from the staff and further viewing, discussion and analysis. At some point, it becomes possible to make some fairly definite answers to the questions that started the study. The study is complete.

This hypothetical study is, of course, both idealized and imperfect. There are other ways it could have been carried out. It might have been possible to have the aides or teachers do some of the taping. Teachers could have made deliberate shifts in their classroom program to see if, related to these questions, behavioral changes might result. The variations are endless.

The methods or procedures that have been described in this section of the study are not recipes for extracting data on non-verbal communication, but rather an approach to data gathering and analysis. Variations on these suggestions and different procedures are possible and useful, particularly those procedures which involve increased, or even complete, control of the process by the participants in the cultural processes that are being investigated. One serious limitation of the analysis of film in this text is the total lack of input from either the teachers or the communities involved, a participation that would be absolutely necessary for a true understanding of the dynamics of the circumstances which were the focus of this study.

 

 

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Last modified November 12, 2008