Mapping up a storm!
Creative methods for visitor surveys • Visitor/user engagement • Social science data collection
This summer, I asked visitors to map their responses and experiences at 3 different NC state historic sites. I gave them maps, pens, and brightly-colored emotion stickers and told them to go wild -- no wrong answers! Before they left, I or one of my fantastic research assistants spoke with each of them for about 5 minutes, asking what the different stickers meant and what their experience was like overall. Because the stickers themselves were ambiguous, these interviews allowed us further insight into what visitors were thinking and feeling. The result? 122 maps covered in stickers, alongside 122 visitor interviews that include topics from personal relationships to the site, to childhood memories of field trips, to what they learned from the visitor center museums and what other questions they had. 122 records of people seeing, feeling, and experiencing NC history = value for site staff AND for my dissertation!
Above: A look inside one of the folders, ready for a visitor at Stagville State Historic Site, March 2022
Below: Multiple bright folders spread out on a table by the parking lot at Somerset Place, May 2022
Above: Two finished maps from Somerset Place, showing a combination of written thoughts and stickers (left) and a layered/mixed response (right).
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Notes from the Field
Thoughts, pics, and maps from my ongoing social science research
I'm a qualitative and quantitative social scientist working on my geography PhD and collaborating with public plantation museums across North Carolina to examine visitor responses, staff goals, and relationships between landscape and histories of enslavement.