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I Hope I Get It - Introduction
I Can Do That - Methodology
What He Does For Love - Findings
The Music and The Mirror - Reflection
Bows - Conclusion


I Can Do That


Access to Setting

In considering what I would like to study for my Ethnography Course, I was very interested in learning something I really wanted to know. Since my goal is to become a university professor, I thought studying a successful academic would be productive and interesting. I had done research on Digital Media Studies courses offered in the Spring Quarter and had decided on Digital Noesis, taught by Dr. Frank E.X. Dance. I had heard many good things from both instructors and students about Dr. Dance. I reviewed his CV on the web in his University of Denver Portfolio and was struck by the length of his tenure at the University of Denver, his voluminous publishing output, and his many accolades.

I emailed Dr. Dance on January 31, 2003 about his syllabus and readings for the Digital Noesis course. He was both prompt and encouraging in his response. I emailed Dr. Nick Cutforth, my Ethnography instructor, on February 5, 2003 for his thoughts on my approaching Dr. Dance for my study. He responded affirmatively on the same day. I proposed my study of Dr. Dance to him via an email on February 5, 2003. Although he asked for a few days to consider my request, he approved the study via an email on February 6, 2003.

Email from Debra Austin to Dr. Frank Dance on February 5, 2003
I have an unusual, but I hope intriguing request of you. I am a dual degree student, working on my Master's in DMS and my PhD in Education. The DMS program is the cognate in my PhD program, but you must sign on for the whole Master's to take the DMS coursework. I'm nearing the end of my Education coursework and am taking Ethnography with Dr. Nick Cutforth next quarter. I would like to do a mentor study of you/your career as my course project.

I have read about your years here at DU and your various awards and publications. While I will get the opportunity to observe/study your teaching in Digital Noesis, this is more than just a look at your teaching. It is getting your input on what it takes to navigate a university teaching career successfully. I'm interested in the role of research and politics. I'd like to observe you in university settings in addition to the classroom. This is a mentor/role model study, meant to assist me as I try to begin a career as a university educator. I will also be learning the techniques of conducting an ethnography and writing the results of my research.

Email from Dr. Frank Dance to Debra Austin on February 6, 2003
OK, let's do it.

Data Collection

My data collection techniques included observations, formal interviews, informal interviews, and artifact research. I have class with Dr. Dance on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9am until 11am. The class observations commenced on March 26, 2003 and were completed for the purposes of this study on May 14, 2003. I spent 28 hours observing Dr. Dance during Digital Noesis. During each class session, I took notes on my laptop computer. In my course notes for Digital Noesis, I dated each entry and took notes on both the class lecture/discussion and my personal observations of Dr. Dance. At the end of each week, I transferred my observation notes electronically into my field log. Notes from informal interviews initiated by both Dr. Dance and me were also included in these classroom notes. On April 23, 2003, I observed Dr. Dance while he taught Understanding Communication to DU freshman at 1pm for 1.5 hours.

I conducted hour long formal interviews of Dr. Dance on April 9, April 21, and May 14, 2003. These interviews were held in Dr. Dance's faculty office in Spruce Hall North 340D. I prepared my interview questions in advance on my laptop. This preparation took about 4 hours. During each interview, I referred to the questions on my laptop and typed responses while we were talking. I conducted a 1/2 hour long interview of Dr. Carol Zak-Dance, Dr. Dance's wife, on May 13, 2003 using the same techniques.

My review of relevant artifacts became possible by doing research on Dr. Dance and by his contributing to my data. This part of the process took about 5 hours. Dr. Dance provided me with a copy of an article he wrote on his intellectual mentor entitled Remembering a Mentor: Walter J. Ong, S.J. He also provided me with copies of his teaching evaluations from Winter Quarter 2003. I read his article entitled Digitality's Debt to Speech for the Digital Noesis course. The following artifacts were available to me on the web:

I spent approximately 42 hours preparing for and conducting field research in my ethnographic study of Dr. Dance.

Data Analysis

During the ethnography process, I submitted 7 progress memoranda to Dr. Nick Cutforth describing my research design, research progress, and emerging themes. These reports were submitted via email on April 5, 11, 18, 22, May 6, 13, and 17, 2003. This reporting took about 5 hours.

I began creating the framework for the web page on May 15, 2003. This required determining the content categories for the ethnographic report, creating the title and menu graphics, incorporating a photographic image of Dr. Dance, and cloning the design on the index page onto each of the other five pages in the web.

Drafting of the ethnographic report began on May 17, 2003. I began by creating an outline of my report in Word and then transferred that information into the web page by writing the account using the outline for reference.

I submitted the draft report in web page format to Dr. Dance for triangulation and approval via on May 22. He submitted one correction that same afternoon. I spent approximately 18 hours drafting, proof reading, and editing this report.

From A Chorus Line

I Can Do That

I'm watchin' Sis
Go pitterpat.
Said, "I can do that,
I can do that."
Knew ev'ry step
Right off the bat.
Said, "I can do that,
I can do that."

One morning Sis won't go to dance class.
I grabbed her shoes and tights and all,
But my foot's too small, so,

I stuffed her shoes
With extra socks,
Run seven blocks
In nothin' flat,
Hell, I can do that,
I can do that!


I got to class
And had it made,
And so I stayed
The rest of my life
All thanks to Sis
(Now married and fat)
I can do this.


That I can do.
I can do that.


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