Ethnographic Research Project Proposal

Malley Fitness Center

Shaun Henry and Connor Haupt



  • Do you go to the gym on a regular basis? (at least once per two weeks?)


Non-Gym Goers


  • Why do you not go to the gym on a regular basis? (time commitments, student-athlete, already in good shape)
  • Male or female?


Gym Goers

  • Male or female?
  • What is your major?
  • Do you go to the gym to do weightlifting, cardio, swimming, sports, classes, or other?
  • How many days a week do you go to the gym?
  • How long is your typical workout?
  • How much do you socialize at the gym, from a scale of 1-5.
  • Are you trying to gain weight or lose weight?
  • What is your motivation for going to the gym?
  • How would you assess your physical fitness?
  • Does being more or less physically fit affect your overall happiness?
  • Do you wipe down the equipment after you use it?
  • Do you put the weights away after you use them?


The site we plan to study is the Malley Fitness Center here on the Santa Clara campus. The population being studied is the students living in the Swig residence hall.



The investigation we hope to observe is the exercise habits and fitness mentalities of the students here at Santa Clara.



The significance of this research is to assess the health and fitness of our community by comparing the Santa Clara student population to that of other colleges in the nation. Prospective students may find this research to be important when choosing the college they plan on attending. Also, the staff at Santa Clara University might care about our research because poor health statistics could lead to a bad reputation for the school. We intend to analyze our data to observe the strengths and weaknesses of students’ fitness at Santa Clara, and we will attempt to spread these ideas around campus to help promote healthy lifestyles for the student population. The audiences we plan on writing to once we report our findings at the end of the quarter include prospective students, current students, and the staff of Santa Clara University. The staff could possibly take our findings and publish them for others to see on brochures and the school website. Furthermore, we will have several questions on our survey pertaining to rules of the gym, and we will give this data to the managers of Malley so that they can use actions to better promote the rules of the gym.


Secondary Research:

Secondary research on this topic will include background information on Malley center. We will learn the hours of operation, maximum capacity of each room, when the peak hours of the gym are as well as the most popular days of the week. We plan to do this by interviewing multiple front desk employees at the gym. We will also attempt to interview either the director of recreation or the assistant director of recreation to better learn about the most popular sports and activities on campus. We will research national averages of health and fitness at universities and colleges across the nation for background research. We also have several articles that describe different methods for carrying out our research. These articles break down their data into categories and make correlations among their findings. One of the arguments we plan on exploring is that healthier colleges have happier students. Another argument we will explore is the different gender goals of the gym; men mostly aim to gain weight, while women generally aim to lose weight. These are just some of the many arguments we intend to research and explore with our data.


Conducting Fieldwork:

First, we will write a recruitment script of about 1-2 pages where we will explain what we are doing, why we are doing it, and what we intend to do with our research. We will also include how the information gathered will remain anonymous and how it will be used for purely academic purposes. We will then create small surveys with the multiple choice and short answer questions provided above. These surveys will remain anonymous and we will not need consent forms. We will go throughout the different floors of Swig, to each room, asking for volunteers for our survey. Firstly, we will ask if these people go to the gym on a regular basis or not, and then give them to appropriate survey depending on their responses. We will use the data we gain from these surveys to connect the individual answers of the students to an overall assessment of fitness, health, and happiness at Santa Clara.

Research Timeline:

We will conduct our research during the next couple of weeks, collecting data on different days of the week and different times of the day in order to account for a wide variety of people in Swig Hall. Specifically, we plan on collecting data on:


Thursday May 8th, 1:00PM – 2:00PM

Sunday May 11th, 9:00PM – 10:00 PM

Friday May 16th, 3:00PM – 4:00PM

Saturday May 17th, 2:00PM – 3:00PM

Wednesday May 21st, 4:00PM – 5:00PM


We hope to receive at least 20 surveys per data collection session. We plan on trying to obtain the same number or surveys from each gender, so we can compare their responses better. We will observe the different activities available at the gym including fitness classes, weight training, running and cardio, swimming, and sports such as basketball, volleyball, and badminton to get a better understanding of all the available activities. We will also take pictures/videos of the different facilities and activities available at Malley and include these in our presentation.


Division of Workload

In order to ensure we are completing an equal amount of work for our project, we will split the workload in half, where we will each spend the same amount of time going from door to door in Swig hall asking for volunteers for the survey. We plan on analyzing our data together, and completing the rest of our project together as well.



We will not have any challenges to accessing Malley fitness, as we will just use our access cards for unlimited access to the gym during hours of operation. Also, we will not have any problems for accessing Swig hall, as we are both current residents of this residence hall, so we have access to every part of the building for 24 hours of the day. We may have a little trouble recruiting participants but we think we will get a fine amount of data seeing that our survey is very short and should only take about a minute to complete. We may have some problems regarding coercion of the participants. This could be a problem especially if we approach many people at one time. Recording data from each one could promote a problem as individuality of the answers may dwindle due to peer pressure and self-conscious. Regarding consent forms, we will simply ask verbal consent from the participants as we first approach them while they walk up to the gym. We will keep the data anonymous for each participant, so consent forms and signatures will not be needed. We will include a recruitment form in order to define what our research is about, and how we will be using the data our participants provide for us.



Recruitment Script:


My partner and I are students under the direction of Professor Voss in the English Department here at Santa Clara University. We are here to conduct an ethnographic research project about the Santa Clara community, and in particular, the Malley Fitness Center.

We are researching the exercise habits and fitness mentalities of students on campus, and we hope to assess the physical fitness of our community as a whole.

We hope to have you fill out a quick survey about your exercise habits at Malley Fitness Center, whether you go there regularly or not. The information will be kept completely anonymous, and the data will be used for strictly academic purposes.

It would be incredibly helpful if you participated in our study, but you participation is completely voluntary.

Thank you for your consideration!



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