Field Research and Documentation

This page provides a list of resources to empower teachers and professors to use fieldwork in their lessons at all educational levels.  Fieldwork constitutes various formats, which can make it challenging to incorporate in educational settings.  Resources on this page will provide valuable materials for educators to use, such as lesson plans, course syllabi, outreach programs, and more.  Educators will also benefit from numerous examples of methods and techniques which can be utilized in student fieldwork projects.  These templates will allow educators to enable their students to interact with fieldwork practices and approach research projects with a wealth of materials and strategies.

The following books provide methods and techniques for conducting fieldwork research projects, but also strategies to incorporate fieldwork in the classroom:

  • Elizabeth Campbell and Luke Eric Lassiter, Doing Ethnography Today: Theories, Methods, Exercises (Wiley-Blackwell)
  • David M. Fetterman, Ethnography: Step-by-Step (SAGE Publications)
  • Lisa Gilman and John Fenn, eds., Handbook for Folklore and Ethnomusicology Fieldwork (Indiana University Press)
  • Bruce Jackson, Fieldwork (University of Illinois Press)
  • Michael Owen Jones, ed., Putting Folklore to Use (University Press of Kentucky)
  • Conrad Phillip Kottak, ed., Researching American Culture: A Guide for Student Anthropologists (University of Michigan Press)
  • Soyini Madison, Critical Ethnography: Methods, Ethics, and Performance (SAGE Publications)
  • Stephen Winick and Peter Bartis, Folklife and Fieldwork: An Introduction to Cultural Documentation (American Folklife Center, Library of Congress)

The following websites and links provide resources to incorporate fieldwork in the classroom:

Borrowing Fieldwork Equipment from the PACF

Fieldwork equipment, such as digital audio and video recording equipment, is available for loan to students/staff/faculty with a Penn State ID, or an approved researcher who has been vetted by a Pennsylvania Center for Folklore (Center) staff member.

Please consult our Fieldwork Equipment Inventory for a list of equipment that is available for loan. Borrowers will be required to sign an copy of the Fieldwork Equipment Policy the first time they check equipment out.

Non-Penn State Researchers

It is advised that appropriate approval for non-Penn State students/faculty be obtained prior to any attempt to reserve or borrow equipment. Borrowers will be held responsible for all equipment checked out to them. By signing the Center log for a piece of equipment, the borrower is acknowledging that they understand that all such equipment shall be returned to the Center in the same condition as when it was issued. It is advisable to reserve the equipment in advance by calling the Center at 717-948-6094 or emailing

Rental and Renewal Policies

This equipment may be borrowed for a maximum of fourteen (14) days, unless prior arrangements are made for long-term checkout by Center personnel. There is a ten (10.00) dollar late fee per week for all checkouts which exceed the allotted time allowed. Extenuating circumstances will be considered only if the Center is notified before the equipment is past due. Equipment sign-out privileges may be revoked at any time without warning due to careless handling of equipment, repeated lateness, or abuse of these guidelines.

Equipment must be returned and inspected before a renewal of the loan may be made. A phone call or email will not be considered as viable contact in the event of an extension as the equipment must still be reviewed by Center personnel. Reservations for extended periods or holidays will be considered on a proposal basis. Failure to return the recorder within the thirty (30) day period following the due date will result in a charge to the borrower for the replacement cost of the equipment.

Good Etiquette for Loans:

Borrowers should transfer to other media and delete any interview material from the recorder to remove the potential for a confidentiality breach. Center personnel will attempt to provide a new battery when recorder is loaned out, however, if you know the battery is low or “out of juice”, please advise us of this when you are returning the recorder.

Lost or Damaged Equipment

The borrower is responsible for returning all equipment received in the same condition as when it was issued. The borrower will be held responsible for the cost of replacing any equipment not returned, or equipment returned which is damaged. The borrower will be responsible to pay the repair cost (not to exceed the replacement cost, currently USD$50.00) of any equipment which is returned in damaged condition. Failure to pay an assessed fee will result in loss of borrowing privileges.

Borrower Responsibilities and Procedures

It is the borrower’s responsibility to accept only equipment in proper working condition from the Center. A routine test of the recorder is advised before leaving the Center (including the battery). Should equipment become faulty for any reason while in the borrower’s possession, absolutely no attempt should be made by the borrower (or anyone other party unaffiliated with the Center) to repair it. If faulty, return the equipment immediately to the Center for evaluation. Under no circumstances should any equipment in the borrower’s charge be loaned to any other person. All equipment transfers must be handled through Center personnel; otherwise, initial borrowers may wind up paying for another’s mistake. Supplying equipment to individuals who do not have authorization is an abuse of these policy guidelines and is strictly prohibited. It is essential that equipment be returned on time. This ensures a steady workflow that is compatible with the demands of our community. Late fees will be enforced. Reserved equipment must also be picked up on time. It is the borrower’s responsibility to be aware of the Center’s hours of operation by checking on the Center’s website at: Reserved equipment may be picked up earlier than the scheduled date if the equipment is available.