Chapter 3: Autoethnography by H. Chang (2008)

Chang describes autoethnography as “a qualitative research method that utilizes ethnographic methods to bring cultural interpretation to the autobiographical data of researchers” (pg. 56). This article provided me with a much better understanding of what an autoethnography is and what it aims to do for both the author/researcher and the reader(s). An successful autoethnography will combine a personal narrative with a broader cultural analysis, backed with scientific research.

At one point in the chapter, Chang listed a variety of topics of autoethnographies. She also included that the method was often criticized for being “narcissistic or self-indulgent” but argues that it is necessary (pg. 51). When learning that I would be tasked with writing an autoethnography, I feared that my writing would be narcissistic, so I found comfort in this.

My first impressions of autoethnography:

  • interesting for the reader
  • personal experiences are data
  • transformative for the author/researcher and the reader

Heartfelt Autoethnography by Carolyn Ellis (1999)

This piece was remarkably easy to read, for me at least. It was almost like inception, an autoethnography about autoethnography. I’m assuming the purpose of reading this was to inspire our first vignette that is due this week.

A couple things in this piece really stood out to me. When Ellis explains the vulnerability of writing an autoethnography. It makes the whole vignette project seem a little daunting. But at the same time, she mentions how you come to understand yourself better through the process. I’m very excited about the challenge of this process.

I also really like the idea of the coconstructed narrative. In my experience, not enough research is written so that readers are engaged. Writing research in form of a story that involves the author and the participants in the study would be interesting for me. I’m hoping that I can incorporate that into my work this semester.

The Writer Is at the Center of the Scholarship by Robert J. Nash and DeMethra LaSha Bradley (2012)

Nash and Bradley offer a “Brief Guide for Writing Scholarly Personal Narrative (SPN) Manuscripts” in four steps: “pre-search, me-search, research, and we-search.” I found this especially helpful in relation to our vignettes that we will be morphing into our own autoethnographies.

At the end of the piece, the authors offer some really great tips for writing an SPN. My personal favorite is: “Keep telling yourself that you have a personal story worth telling and a point about your content worth sharing.”


seeing the world as students see it: authority, being in the box, what the teacher wants the student to say, course requirements, standardized testing = standardized students

I think it’s important to realize that the students are the most important stakeholders in higher education. It’s their education and their voices need to be heard. The video on VisionsofStudents.org made me think about why I’m pursuing a career in student affairs. My focus should be on empowering, advocating for, advancing, and bettering the students I work with.

The American Freshman 2016

The data presented in this document is critically important and extremely influential on decisions made regarding colleges and college students. In the introduction, it is stated that, the “research helped inform the Supreme Court’s decision in Fisher v. The University of Texas to uphold affirmative action in college admission” (pg. 1).

Things I found interesting:

  • 46% of students surveyed said that politics were “very important” or “essential”
  • 13% of students are concerned about their ability to finance their educations (mostly women and students of color)
  • “transgender students in this sample report less confidence in their academic abilities, they more readily exhibit behaviors associated with habits of mind for lifelong learning” (pg. 15)

The Almanac of Higher Education 2017

A lot of the data in this almanac focused on enrollment, retention, graduation rates, demographics of students, financial aid, the types of degrees awarded, the types of institutions awarding degrees.

Chapter 1: Characteristics of College Students in the United States by K. Renn & R. Reason (2013)

Five things I found interesting:

  • “students of color [were] more highly represented at two-year and for-profit institutions” & “white students… are more likely to attend four-year, nonprofit, and private institutions” (pg. 7)
  • “Women became the majority of all students in American higher education in 1979” (pg. 10)
  • there isn’t a lot of good data on the representation of LGBT+ students in higher education
  • two years after the GI Bill was introduced, “over 70% of all male college students were veterans” (pg. 15)
  • “engagements with religious institutions and practices among college students has decreased, whereas search for spiritual meaning has increased” (pg. 20)
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