According to Spradley (1979), ethnography is "the work of describing a culture" (p. 3). The goal of ethnographic research is "to understand another way of life from the native point of view" (p. 3).
Although this approach is commonly used by anthropologists to study exotic cultures and primitive societies, Spradley suggests that it is a useful tool for "understanding how other people see their experience" (p. iv). He emphasizes, however, that "rather than studying people, enthnography means learning from people" (p. 3).
Ethnographic research has broad implications for many fields, including education. Professional development evaluators and staff developers can use this approach to understand teachers' needs, experiences, viewpoints, and goals. Such information can enable them to design useful and worthwhile programs for teachers and ultimately improve student learning.