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Charles R. Menzies
Publications and Presentations
Student Projects
Ethnographic Film Unit



Student Projects

Project Description
ANTH 516 (Ethnographic Methods)
Sept.-Dec, 2002


Final Reports

Clark and Campbell Sitting in a Tree, C-U-T-T-I-N-G

Effects of the Wrecking Crew: Maintaining the House of Education in Vancouver’s Inner-City

Cents and Sensibility: The State of Special Education in Vancouver

Project Overview

This term the research focus for student group projects in the graduate methods course (ANTH 516) focussed on the implications of recent political and funding changes to the delivery of educational services within the Vancouver school District.  Specific research questions will be developed in collaboration with ad hoc groups of parents and teachers in Vancouver.
The primary list of contacts has been collated by the course instructor, Charles Menzies, through his daily activities as a parent of two children in the Vancouver School District and as a parent volunteer on school-based Parents Advisory Councils.  The central core of parent research partners will be members of the ad hoc parent group, Save Our Schools.  Teacher research participants have been suggested by the BC Teachers Federation and the Vancouver Secondary Teachers' Association. 
The core goal of this project is to gain hands-on experience with a variety of  ethnographic and associated research techniques.  The groups will choose appropriate research tools and examine as many aspects as possible of the social setting.  These methods may include observations, photos, maps, artefacts, descriptions of social behaviour observed, reporting of informal interviews, comments and analysis.

Project Overview, Methods, and Objectives


The Purpose of this research project is to provide 'real time' research experience for enrolled students in the required graduate methods course (ANTH 516).


Hands on experience is a critical aspect of learning about research  methodologies.   Additionally the instructor understands that it is critical that students do not simply 'play' at research, but rather that they engage in socially meaningful research in a way that may have a wider benefit than simply allows them to fulfill their course requirements.  Professor Menzies has supervised student  projects since first joining UBC in 1996.  First, in collaboration with Dr. Bruce G. Miller in a collaborative field research program involving the Sto:lo First Nation (2 times) then as the direct supervisor of student researchers in his own research projects and their thesis research  and, more recently, as the instructor of ANTH 516.


1. to provide research experience for students enrolled in ANTH 516
2. to explore teachers' and parents' experiences of recent changes to education funding and legislation


The research scope of the project is limited to interviews with teachers and parents living and working within the Vancouver School District.  These interviews will take place at UBC in the Department of Anthropology, in the interviewees home, or a mutually acceptable third location outside of school board property.

Three research groups have been created.  Each group has been assigned a focal point for their research: special education; inner city schools, and; westside schools (essentially Point Grey area).

Prospective research participants have already been contacted by the course instructor (Charles Menzies)  in May of 2002 and continuing to the present.  Dr. Menzies met these individuals in his capacity as a parent who has been actively involved  in the life of his children's schools since 1996.

A short list of potential contact  parents and teachers from westside schools (those schools west of Cambie), inner city schools, and special education programs was compiled (15 people).  As part of Dr. Menzies' normal course preparation this group of individuals were asked in person if they would mind being contacted by student researchers to speak about their impressions experiences of  the changes in Vancouver schools resulting from the recent changes to educational funding and educational legislation.   Each potential contact was advised that if they agreed they would then be contacted by a member of one of the three student research groups.  At that time they would then be presented with an informed consent form as per UBC Ethical Review Guidelines.

During the course of ANTH 516 each student group will contact 3-5 people from the list of potential contacts.  If the potential contact agrees to be interviewed and signs the informed consent form they will be interviewed by a member of one of the student groups.  Each interview will take between 30 and 60 minutes.  The students will record notes and provide each interviewee with the opportunity to review the notes.  At the end of the interview the student researcher will ask the interviewee if they might  suggest one or two other people who might wish to be interviewed (this is called a 'snowball' technique and is a standard anthropological practice).  If time permits some of these  people may be contacted by the instructor to ask them if they would consider being approached by the student researchers.


The ability to work effectively and cooperatively in team or group settings is an important skill to develop and has applications in both the public and private sector. Most ‘real-time’ employment situations involve some form of group work. Educational studies have also demonstrated that students who study and work in groups generally recall more of their course material than they if they studied alone. The projects will be developed within randomly assigned learning teams of 3-4 students. Though class time will be dedicated to develop and facilitate the assigned group projects, it is anticipated some additional work will occur outside of the scheduled class times.

Evaluations of group projects will be based on both individual participation and the collective outcome. The marking process will include peer evaluations in the determination of each individual’s grade. The emphasis is on cooperation and team work. This assignment will provide students an opportunity of hands on experience of field research in a controlled environment.

This term our research focus will be on the implications of recent political and funding changes on the delivery of educational services within the Vancouver School District from the perspective of parents and teachers.


Cheryl Aman, Heather Bjorgan, Theo Breedon, Sheryl Clark, Alice, Edwards, Cara Krmpotich, Ann Peterson, Kiriko Watanabe, Michelle Willard.


Last reviewed 23-Sep-2006

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Charles R. Menzies, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Department of Anthropology
University of British Columbia
6303 NW Marine Drive
Vancouver, BC. V6T 1Z1
tel 604-822-2240 | fax 604-822-6161 | e-mail cmenzies@interchange.ubc.ca

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