Since field reports are used to combine theory and practice, they involve both description and analysis. It is important to be aware of and avoid the most common student error when writing field reports of presenting description without any analysis of what has been described or observed.
Field reports usually consist of the following elements:
Description - what you have seen or observed
Analysis - strengths and weaknesses, reflection or evaluation of observations in light of theory and key concepts of your course or the broader context of your discipline.
Appendix - information that supports your analysis but is not essential to its explanation i.e. full transcripts of observation, maps, court session details.
Field reports usually do not have a specific format: you may choose to have separate sections for the description and analysis parts of your report or to have paragraphs that combine these two types of writing i.e. an event is described and then its theoretical significance is analysed. How you choose to format your report will be determined by the task that you have been set, the observations that you make, the theoretical perspective that is driving your analysis or your course’s particular guidelines.
While standard academic writing tends to be objective and impersonal, the language used in field reports can be simpler, more direct and personal. Personal pronouns such as I and we can be used. It may also be appropriate, depending on your task, to record your subjective impressions and feelings (McNabb). An example of this if you are observing a court hearing might be ‘How did the language used by each side make you feel?’ An example if you are reflecting on a practice teaching session might be ‘How did you react to the behaviour of the class?’
© Copyright 2000
Comments and questions should
be directed to Unilearning@uow.edu.au