CIP And Anthropology

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A National Ethnographic Evaluation of the Career Intern Program. Fetterman, David M. in Anthropological Praxis: Translating Knowledge into Action. Edited by Wulff, Robert, M. and Shirley J. Fiske. Westview Press, 1987. pp. 243-252, notes, references.

In the article, A National Ethnographic Evaluation of the Career Intern Program, David Fetterman discusses his participation as an ethnographic researcher in the evaluation of the Career Intern Program (CIP). CIP is an alternative program for high school dropouts or potential dropouts. CIP is one of the "few exemplary educational programs for disenfranchised and economically disadvantaged minority youth." CIP was replicated at four sites across the country.

The evaluation was divided into four major sections: how successful each new site was in replicating the prototype, the statistical outcome of various academic tests, an evaluation of the ethnographic component, and a comparison of CIP with other programs implemented for dropouts. Fetterman was responsible for the third section, which consisted of the identification of interrelationships between the descriptive implementation and the statistical sections of the study.

Fetterman had three levels of clients. The first level, which he considered the most important, consisted of the students. The second level was the teachers, counselors and directors, while the third consisted of the various local and national-level managers of the program.

Fetterman was responsible for producing case studies for all four sites. Instead of spending three to six months at each site, as traditional ethnography might call for, Fetterman spent two weeks at each site every three months for three years. Fetterman feels this was enough time to produce adequate amounts of ethnographic data.

Fetterman goes into detail explaining what an anthropological perspective added to the evaluation. This explanation lends the article strength and explains the why as well as the who, what and where of anthropological research. Fetterman,s anthropological view focused on the adaptation, rather than the replication of the program. Even though some programs were thriving they did not correspond with the prototype, and were in danger of being terminated. Fetterman was able to change the focus of monitoring groups to highlight the successes of programs rather than their failure to replicate the prototype. Ethnographic methods also gave more detailed information to the evaluation, and was able to explain what seemed to be shortcomings of the program structure, which were actually due to a shortcoming in staff numbers. "The ethnographic portion of the evaluation also provided a description of the neighborhoods of the program to illuminate the program's physical context." Fetterman is successful in this article, in that he enlightens the reader by presenting a situation that one would not typically associate with a need for an anthropologist. Feterman presents his material in a well-organized and easily digested format. The best part of this article is that Fetterman does an excellent job in explaining the contributions of anthropology to the evaluation of CIP.