Research Methods Class Assignments On Culture

Teaching eHRAF is an innovative, interdisciplinary teaching resource for universities, colleges, and high schools aimed at providing faculty with ideas about how to use the eHRAF World Cultures and eHRAF Archaeology online databases in their curricula. Most of the exercises have been written by faculty and HRAF staff, focusing on general anthropology, general archaeology, medical anthropology, and research methods ranging from easy (Level I) to difficult (Level IV). Learn more.

Use the filters below to browse and search our collection of syllabi and lesson plans.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Student Paper Guidelines for Using eHRAF: One Professor's Experience


Useful tips for faculty using eHRAF World Cultures for student assignments.


Introduction to Cultural Anthropology: A Syllabus


Guidelines for writing a student paper using eHRAF World Cultures.


Understanding Ethnography: An eHRAF Workbook for Introductory Anthropology Courses


The purpose of the workbook is to give students a feel for ethnographic data, which should help their understanding of anthropological concepts and theories. Includes diverse topics in anthropology such as kinship, cosmology, witchcraft, storytelling, feuding, etc.


Ethnology and Ethnography in Anthropology


This eHRAF assignment contains a group presentation and individual paper.


Overview of Cultures & Ethnic Groups in Culture Summaries


General topics with focus on eHRAF’s Browse Cultures and Culture Summaries.


Short Paper on Basis of Marriage (OCM 581) and Arranging a Marriage (OCM 584)


Exercise for writing a paper that discusses the search results in ethnographic texts for the subjects Basis of Marriage (OCM 581) in one culture and Arranging A Marriage (OCM 584) in another culture.


Short Paper on Sacred Objects & Places (OCM 778) and on Animism (OCM 774)


Exercise for writing a paper that discusses Sacred Objects and Places (OCM 778) in one culture, and Animism (OCM 774) in another culture.


Native Peoples of South America: A Comparative Ethnography 


This project is used in an anthropology course on the Native Peoples of South America. The questions were written to match the topics covered in Betty Meggers’ Amazonia: Man and Culture in a Counterfeit Paradise (Smithsonian Institution, 1996).


A Cross-Cultural Study of Violence


Using the ethnographies from assigned literature and eHRAF World Cultures, this exercises explore violence cross culturally and tries to determine, through careful comparisons, if there are any general explanations for violence.


Explorations in Cross-Cultural Anthropology Part 1: Syllabus


Sociocultural anthropology provides ways of seeing other peoples and cultures in their own terms. In this course, students will learn how anthropologists see the world and how anthropologists analyze and explain cultures.


Basic Cross-Cultural Research Assignment


The purpose of this assignment is to become familiar with the contents and structure of the eHRAF World Cultures by learning to navigate around the database and by performing searches on topics of the students’ choice.


Ecological Function of a Behavioral Institution in a Nomadic Society: A Short Paper


The subject of this exercise is the cultural ecological function of a behavioral institution in a non-Western nomadic society.


Ecological Function of a Behavioral Institution in a Pastoral or Horticultural Society: A Short Paper


The subject of this exercise is the cultural ecological function of a behavioral institution in a pastoral or horticultural society.


Political Function of a Religious Institution: A Short Paper


The subject of this exercise is the political function of any religious institution in a non-western society of the student’s choosing.


Ritual Kinship: A Short Paper


The subject of this exercise is the function of ritual kinship in a non-western society.


Cross-Cultural Correlation Study


For this assignment, students create a 5-7 page paper investigating some aspect of cultural anthropology.


Library Assignment: Finding Anthropological Resources


This exercise gives students a choice between an ethnographic (focusing on a single culture) or ethnological (cross-cultural) approach to research using eHRAF World Cultures.


Culture and Aging: A Research Project in Completed Fertility & Subsistence Practices, Productivity & Aging, and Social Networks & Aging


The challenge in this study of the cultural context of aging is to develop an understanding of how different ecological and social conditions are related to variation in the pattern and process of aging and passage through the lifecourse.


Eating Salt and Symbols: Exploring the Relationship of Biology and Culture with eHRAF


The intention of this assignment is to illustrate principles of scientific method by using the eHRAF World Cultures database to explore the relationship between diet and attitudes toward salt.


Bizarre Foods


Through in-class activities, group work, and illustrated lectures (including segments from hit TV shows ‘Bizarre Foods’ and ‘Without Reservation’) this course examines “bizarre foods” and the cultural links they involve.


Exercises Using eHRAF World Cultures


Broadly, these exercises are designed to give you not only a feeling for the range of cultural variation, but also to get a feeling for different methodological approaches in anthropology. Some of the exercises are designed to replicate cross-cultural generalizations; others to explore one or more cultures.


Marriage & Choice In-Class Activity


In this exercise, students will read and analyze the concept of marital choice among a variety of societies across the globe.


Hunter Gatherers & Agriculturalists In-Class Activity


In this exercise, students will compare and contrast social and political dimensions of life between a Native American hunter-gatherer group and an agricultural group.


Sexuality In-Class Activity


In this activity, students will conduct basic research on the diversity of social attitudes towards premarital sexual relations across the globe.


Hunter-Gatherers (Explaining Human Culture)


These exercises are designed to accompany the Explaining Human Culture: Hunter-Gatherers module which gives a general picture of what we have learned from cross-cultural research on hunter-gatherers, or more precisely, what we think we know, and to point out some of the things we do not yet know.


Hunter-Gatherers In-Class Activity


In this exercise, students will break into groups and compare social factors correlated with hunter gatherer subsistence systems.


Dwellings (Explaining Human Culture)


These eHRAF exercises are designed to accompany the Dwellings Module: Explaining Human Culture which gives a general picture of what we have learned from cross-cultural research about predictors of dwellings from their shape, size and building materials. Such predictors are expected to be most useful to archaeologists wishing to find cultural indicators of cultural and social life from remains of dwellings.


Dwellings In-Class Activity


In this exercise, students will explore the differences in dwelling size between matrilocal and patrilocal households.


Kinship and Egalitarian Principles Using the eHRAF World Cultures Database and the HRAF Homepage


Among the Hopi, clan membership is very important for a number of reasons. For this assignment, students will be using a specific textual description available in the eHRAF World Culturesdatabase that describes Hopi kinship and clan life. They will also encounter a discussion about egalitarianism that they will need to assess.


Kinship and Land Use


In the Marshall Islands, plots of land are shared by kin group members.This assignment uses a specific textual description available in the eHRAF World Cultures database about taro plots and how they are distributed to kin group members.


Altered States of Consciousness (Explaining Human Culture)


These eHRAF exercises are designed to accompany the module Altered States of Consciousness in Explaining Human Culture. After reviewing evidence for practices involving altered states of consciousness (ASC) in prehistory, the module gives a general picture of what we have learned from cross-cultural research about ASCs, from trances and their frequency, predictors of variation in types of trances, vision quests, and dreaming and out-of-body experiences.


Trance In-Class Activity


This exercise allows students to read, compare, and contrast ethnographic work on Middle America and Caribbean trance practices. A downloadable PDF activity sheet is available.


Altered States Compared In-Class Activity


In this exercise, students will gain experience interpreting ethnographic case reports addressing altered states of consciousness in two societies, and situating these within ethnographic trance typologies.


Childhood (Explaining Human Culture)


These exercises are designed to accompany the module Childhood in Explaining Human Culture. The module gives a general picture of what we have learned from cross-cultural research about childhood, including kin relations, socialization practices, and gender differences in child behavior.


Adolescence (Explaining Human Culture)


These eHRAF exercises are designed to accompany the Adolescence module in Explaining Human Culture, which gives a general picture of what we have learned from cross-cultural research about adolescents and the various theories that may explain cultural similarities or difference.


General Archaeology Research Project


This high-school level archaeological project contains four parts: an oral aspect, physical aspect, power point presentation and speeches.


Overview of Archaeological Traditions


This exercise is designed for students to gain a better general understanding of archaeological traditions in terms of their locations, settlement systems, subsistence, relative time periods and other cultural markers.


Burial Practices: an eHRAF workbook for introductory archaeology courses


These exercises, designed for in-class use or as homework assignment in an introductory archaeology course, are linked to data in eHRAF World Cultures and eHRAF Archaeology. The purpose of the workbook is to give the students a feel for archaeological regional differences and an understanding of the structure and functionality of the eHRAF databases.


Hide Working and Tanning Leather


Cross-cultural exercises on hide working and tanning allow students to explore the ethnographic record on leather and related tasks in eHRAF.


Work in Skins Worldwide In-Class Activity


In this exercise, students will compare  methods, materials, and tools used by societies across the world to work in animal skins


Work in Skins in North America In-Class Activity


In this assignment, students will research strategies for working in skins in North America, and synthesize this data by extrapolating the material evidence hide-working practices might leave in the archaeological record.


Topics in Medical Anthropology


The following exercises are designed to find illness causation and medicinal treatments across cultures using eHRAF World Cultures.


Ethnobotany In-Class Activity


This exercise asks students to explore ethnobotanical practices related to a chosen plant across the world.


Causes of Disease


In places where there is great cultural diversity, it is important for medical staff to understand and be aware of cultural differences in order to treat patients effectively.


Reproductive Health


Using the eHRAF World Cultures database, compare and contrast reproductive stages across cultures.


Short Paper on Nutrition (OCM 146)


The goal of this project is for students to do research on the topic of nutrition using eHRAF World Cultures (eHRAF).


Project #1: Research Questions and Hypotheses


The main goals of this exercise are: 1) to reinforce knowledge about the fundamental concepts of research, 2) start thinking about the cross-cultural research project undertaken throughout the course, and 3) become familiar with eHRAF World Cultures. Topics include Residence, Puberty & Initiation, and Arranging a Marriage.


Project #2: HRAF Data Recovery (requires SPSS)


The main goal of this project is to develop a cross-cultural data set to be used in Project #3. In order to attain this goal, students  first need to generate hypotheses that can be tested with cross-cultural data, and develop conceptual and operational definitions of the hypotheses’ variables.


Project #3: Group Poster Presentation


The main goal of this exercise is to develop and present research posters based on the cross-cultural data  collected during Project #2.


Cross-Cultural Comparison with eHRAF World Cultures


In this course, students will be introduced to formal approaches (methods) used to describe and analyze the social world (social research). An introduction is provided to both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, including the use of descriptive statistics and computer research technologies. As research method students are “apprentice researchers,” an emphasis will be placed on ethical considerations of the research process.


Tattooing and Cross-Cultural Research


Students will learn the basic techniques of cross-cultural survey research, and then apply these techniques while working on their own research project using the Human Relations Area Files as a database.


Classroom Activity Using Role Playing to Practice Responding to Prejudice
By Richard M. Lee, Ph.D., University of Minnesota

This role-playing activity was originally developed for an undergraduate course on Asian American Psychology, but it has also been used successfully in another undergraduate course on Race in Everyday Space. Two articles are useful for background:

Lawson, T.J,. McDonough, T.A., & Bodle, J.H. (2010). Confronting prejudiced comments: effectiveness of a role-playing exercise, Teaching of Psychology, 37, 257 – 261. 10.1080/00986283.2010.510968 Lawson et al. (2010) role-playing activity.pdf

Plous, S. (2000). Responding to overt displays of prejudice: A role-playing exercise,
Teaching of Psychology, 27, 198 – 200. 10.1207/S15328023TOP2703_07 Plous responding to overt prejudice role-playing activity.pdf

Classroom Activity Using Role Playing to Practice Responding to Prejudice


Writing Activity based on The Awkward Age, (Segal, 2017)
By Barbara M. Newman (Ph.D., University of Michigan)

Barbara M. Newman (Ph.D., University of Michigan) is professor emeritus in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Rhode Island. She has been on the faculty at Russell Sage College and the Ohio State University, where she served as department chair in Human Development and Family Science and as associate provost for Faculty Recruitment and Development. She has taught courses in life-span development, adolescence, family theories, and the research process. An active researcher, Dr. Newman’s interests focus on parent-child relationships in early adolescence, factors that promote success in the transition to high school and the transition to college, and the sense of belonging in early and later adolescence. Her current research focuses on the development of the sense of purpose among college students with disabilities. She and her husband Phil are co-authors of Development through life: A psychosocial approach, (13th ed.) and Theories of Human Development (2nd ed.).

Writing Activity for Adolescent Development Awkward Age


Why Statistics? 

By Christina R. Peter, Los Angeles Valley College

Christina R. Peter is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC) in Valley Glen, CA. She currently teaches courses in statistics, research methods, human sexuality, general psychology, and biological psychology. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with an emphasis on human development and her M.Ed. in Measurement, Evaluation, Statistics, and Assessment from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She earned her M.A. in Developmental Psychology and her B.A. in Psychology from San Francisco State University. Her research has focused on romantic and sexual relationships, education, and sexual and homophobic harassment of adolescents and emerging adults. 

Dr. Peter’s students have a range of educational backgrounds and goals; therefore, she starts her statistics class with a “buy-in” to introduce students to the value of understanding statistics and research. This assignment can be easily adapted to demonstrate the relevance of statistics and research fluency for students at all levels of their psychology and adolescent development education. Why Statistics Discussion


A paper assignment to address “fake news”

By Kate Herold, Century Community and Technical College

Kate Herold is a member of the Psychology Faculty at Century Community and Technical College in White Bear Lake, MN. She teaches courses in child development, adolescent development, lifespan development and general psychology. Her areas of specialty are infant and child development, children's cognitive development, and early childhood education. In addition to teaching college courses, Kate provides workshops on early cognitive development to parents groups in the twin cities metro area and lessons on brain development to elementary school children. Kate has a B.A. in English from the University of California-Los Angeles, an M.A. in Developmental Psychology from San Francisco State University, and a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of California-Santa Cruz.

Over the past ten years, Kate has assigned her students a simple paper assignment in which they were tasked to find a news article that relates to their class material and write a short paper integrating that article with course content. In the last year or two she began to notice that more and more students were having a difficult time distinguishing real, properly sourced news articles from blog or opinion posts, or from articles in which the journalistic standards were unclear. In response, here is an activity she developed to address some of these struggles. Paper Assignment to address fake news


A Class Structure about the Impact of Internet Use and Social Media

Angela Calvin is a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She teaches courses in child development and educational neuroscience. Her primary research interests focus on the risks and opportunities of social media use on the psychosocial development of adolescents. Particularly, she is interested in the motivations behind the disclosure processes of adolescents on social media and their influence on identity development and relationships with parents and peers. Angela earned her Master’s from Illinois State University in Developmental Psychology and her Bachelor’s in Psychology from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

Here are some activities she uses to teach about adolescent Internet and social media use. A class structure about the Impact of Internet Use and Social Media.pdf


A Class Activity on Multiple Identities

By Professor Dalal Katsiaficas, University of Illinois at Chicago

Dr. Dalal Katsiaficas is an Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She teaches courses on adolescent development in cultural context at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. She earned her Ph.D. at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles in Human Development & Psychology. Her current research focuses on exploring the social development of immigrant-origin youth, with regards to the development of multiple identities and social and academic engagement. She employs mixed methods to take up these questions and often infuses her classroom content with opportunities to learn more about diverse methodological and analytical tools. 

She shares one of her favorite assignments regarding exploring the multiple identities of adolescents and emerging adults. A Class Activity on Multiple Identities.pdf


A 20-Minute Introduction to Stereotypes and Implications

Bio: Dr. Lisa Kiang is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Wake Forest University.  She earned her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Denver and received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park.  She teaches courses in developmental psychology, research in developmental psychology, and self and identity development.  Her primary research interests are in the intersections of self and identity, family and social relationships, and culture, with a focus on adolescents from immigrant and ethnic minority backgrounds.  Major themes include relational or contextual influences on identity formation, and protective factors in promoting development and well-being.

Here is one activity she uses to provide background for discussing the impact of stereotypes, along with implications for broader issues like intelligence, testing, stigma, and related “-isms”.  (A 20 Minute Introduction to Stereotypes and Implications)


A final paper assignment on linking U.S. policy to family

By Dr. Norma Perez-Brena, Texas State University

Dr. Norma Perez-Brena is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Child Development, housed within the School of Family and Consumer Sciences at Texas State University. She earned her Ph.D. in Family and Human Development at the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University, received her Master’s and Bachelor’s in Developmental Psychology from San Francisco State University. Her primary interests lie in understanding the combination of social (e.g., income, education), cultural (e.g., values, norms, acculturation, language use), and personal (e.g., gender, social competence) characteristics that influence the context where Latino and immigrant families develop socially and emotionally. Her work is centered on two key areas: the negotiation of parent-child relationships across development, and the impacts of culture across the life-span.

Here is one of her favorite assignments where students write about how policy relates to families in both explicit and implicit ways. (Final Paper Instructions.pdf) 


A class discussion about adolescent gender development
By Melanie Ayres, University of Wisconsin – River Falls

Melanie Ayres is an associate professor of psychology and the coordinator of the Women’s and Gender Studies program at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. She teaches courses in developmental psychology, research methods, psychology of gender, and Women’s and Gender Studies. She was a teaching fellow in the Wisconsin Teaching Fellows and Scholars program, a yearlong professional development program focused on the scholarship of teaching and learning. This led her to conduct research on student learning in developmental psychology and gender courses. In addition to this work, her research program, a collaborative endeavor with students and other faculty, is broadly focused on gender development. In specific, she has conducted research examining girls’ and women’s experiences of and responses to sexism, parent-child conversations about discrimination, and youth activism.

Here is one activity that Dr. Ayres uses to teach about adolescent gender development. (A Class Discussion about Adolescent Gender Development)


A class structure for the topic of adolescent stress

By Kate Herold, Century Community and Technical College

Kate Herold is a member of the Psychology Faculty at Century Community and Technical College in White Bear Lake, MN. She teaches courses in child development, adolescent development, lifespan development and general psychology. Her areas of specialty are infant and child development, children's cognitive development, and early childhood education. In addition to teaching college courses, Kate provides workshops on early cognitive development to parents groups in the twin cities metro area and lessons on brain development to elementary school children. Kate has a B.A. in English from the University of California-Los Angeles, an M.A. in Developmental Psychology from San Francisco State University, and a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of California-Santa Cruz.

Here is one activity that Dr. Herold uses to teach about adolescent high school related stress. (A Class Structure for the Topic of Adolescent Stress.pdf)

An Activity to Start a Discussion on Ethnic Identity

By Professor Matthew Lee, James Madison University

Matthew Lee is an associate professor of psychology at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. He teaches courses in lifespan psychology, cross-cultural psychology, literature and psychology, and study abroad courses in Romania, Germany, and Poland. One of his study abroad classes is titled Ethnic Identity, Ethnic Conflict, and the Holocaust. During the regular semester students learn about these topics and in the summer the class travels to Germany and Poland for 3 weeks to visit historical sites, meet with German and Polish university students, scholars, and community members, to gain a more in-depth understanding of the development of ethnic identity in the context of culture, trauma, and migration. His research lab focuses on issues of campus climate and the psychology of minority status.

Link to lab page: https://www.facebook.com/JMU-Cultural-and-Racial-Diversity-Studies-Lab-

189470444409898/

Here is one activity that Professor Lee uses to start a discussion on ethnic identity in his classes.( An Activity to Start a Discussion on Ethnic Identity.pdf)


An Activity to Start a Discussion on the Topic of Bullying

By Linda Juang, University of Potsdam

“Simply put, we think in this country bullying should not exist and we need to work together as fast as we can to eliminate this issue. Students simply cannot learn if they feel threatened or harassed or in fear. Students must feel safe and secure and free to express themselves.” --Arne Duncan, August 2010. And being free to safely express themselves in all their uniqueness, is a message that Lady Gaga heavily promotes for young people. She formed a foundation in 2012 to do so: https://bornthisway.foundation/

Here is an activity to start off a discussion on bullying in your class. ( An Activity to Start Discussion on Bullying.pdf )


Teaching about the Adolescent Brain

By Linda Juang, University of Potsdam

In the past two decades, studies on the adolescent brain have grown tremendously. This has been wonderful for adolescence-focused classes, as student interest in this topic is high.  In 2013, a special issue with 15 articles on The Teenage Brain was published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, with leading researchers reporting their latest findings. As part of the American Psychological Science teaching resource webpage aimed at introducing the newest psychological science in the classroom, Drs. Nathan DeWall and David G. Myers developed two sets of classroom activities based on the Teenage Brain special issue. In this PDF, Linda Juang shares ideas for teaching about the adolescent brain (Teaching about the Adolescent Brain.pdf).


Video Predictions Teaching Activity

By Linda Juang, University of Potsdam

Teaching What You Don’t Know by Theresa Huston is a wonderful book filled with practical advice on what to do when you are teaching a class on a topic that you do not know very well. She argues that the best way of teaching such a class is to not view yourself simply as the dispenser of knowledge, but rather to actively involve students to learn with you. Even though I have been teaching adolescence-focused courses for quite some time, I still found this book to be very useful as Huston provides many in-class activities that encourage student-led learning. Here is one of my favorite activities from her book:

Video Predictions

Before showing a video clip in class, discuss with students what they think they will see in the video before they see it. When I talk about ethnic identity, I use this 6-minute video clip from HBO’s Asians Aloud: http://vimeo.com/11056493. In this video we meet Paul and James, good friends who grew up together in Philadelphia and who are both Korean American adoptees. Despite these similarities, they have very different approaches to their ethnic identity. Before showing the video, I ask students to pair up (or get in small groups) and discuss the questions below. I do not tell them anything about Paul and James except that they are Korean American adoptees, raised in Philadelphia, and that Paul is adopted by Italian-heritage parents and James by Italian-, German-, and Irish-heritage parents.

•Do you think Paul and James often think about being of Korean heritage? If so, what triggers do you think make them think about it? If not, why not?

•What would you guess is their orientation to ethnic identity? How much do you think they identify with the mainstream culture? How much do you think they identify with their Korean heritage culture? Why? How would being adopted influence their orientation to ethnic identity?

•Do you think they will have similar or different ethnic identity orientations? Why or why not?

•They are in their 20s. Do you think they have a clear sense of their ethnic identity? Do you think they are happy and proud that they are a member of their ethnic group? Why or why not?

•One of them has a tattoo “Made in Korea” on his right butt cheek. Which one has it? Why do you think he is the one who has it?

After the students have had time to discuss these questions with their partner (or group) we discuss some of their predictions as a whole class. Then, we watch the video. I find that students pay much more attention to the video when they have made predictions as they are searching for whether they were correct or not. Further, asking students to discuss questions prior to viewing the video ensures that they are focusing on the key concepts that you think they should be focusing on. I also find that students are often surprised when Paul and James do not turn out to be as they had predicted. In our discussion we link what we see in the video to concepts and theories about ethnic identity that we have learned in class. Try out this activity! If you do, feel free to share with me what video you used and how it went.

Putting together a lecture for a new topic can require many hours. For about 14 years I have taught an undergraduate Adolescent Psychology class that meets two times a week, for 1 hour and 15 minutes. My lecture slides have changed over the years. I started off with very detailed outlines of all the material I was going to cover. My slides had a lot of text. Over the years I have tried to incorporate more graphics, pictures, video clips, and less text. The student feedback I receive about my slides are generally positive. However, some want more text, and some say my slides do not make sense if they don’t attend class. They are correct, some slides only have a picture or a few words, and they will have missed a discussion on a particular study or topic if they only see the slides without coming to lecture.

For the next few teaching posts, I would like to share slides from my lectures as well as from others who are teaching adolescence-related courses. To start off, I have included five sets of slides: slides for the first days of class as  an introduction, biological transitions, cognitive transitions, cultural beliefs, and moral development. My goal is to create a resource of lecture slides for various topics of adolescence. If you would like to share any of your slides please contact me at juang@uni-potsdam.de

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