Social and natural science students from the University of Puerto Rico, Interamerican University and Turabo University participated in field studies in 2005, 2006 and 2007. All participating students were enrolled in courses given by professor Carlalynne Melendez. As principal investigator, professor Melendez , trained students in field research methodology and techniques.

In all field studies, students administered open-ended questionnaire composed of 20 questions. Students were trained to use several multidisciplinary techniques in the areas of ethnography, geography, and environmental studies. Ethnographic field methods and techniques ranged from collection of field notes, participant and non-participant observation, and direct observation. Geographical and environmental methods consisted of landscape observation and evaluation; environmental sampling (water and soil); topographical survey; observation, display, and analysis of geographic data; cartographic visualization; and spatial-temporal analysis. Some students received hands-on training using a GPS unit and reading topographical maps. A GIS database was constructed for storing, analyzing and interpreting multivariate data.

Students were encouraged to carry a camera and video recorder on all trips. They were also expected to keep a field diary for entering reflections on what had been observed, and to pay close attention to a selective set of cultural and natural phenomena. Each field study had pre-specified objectives which were thoroughly discussed in the classroom.

Close attention was given to ethics and confidentiality during and after a field study. Students were closely guided on the “do’s and dont’s” of field research and behavior.

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