I observed different types of greetings among both male and female students as well as staff at the Oakland University, United States. I started my observation right from the opening of the campus where students met after a long vacation and continued with my observation up to mid of the semester. I spent close to one and half months observing how students of both genders greet each other and also how staff greet each other or greeting between students and staff. To understand how they greet each other, I silently observed them in different places. I mingled with students in classes, during fieldworks, during their free time at the field, and when resting in their rooms. I observed staff in their various work places. I managed to find seven types of greetings among the students and workers, and these greetings vary depending on the gender. These greetings are either formal or informal and also determined by the relationship of the participants.
I managed to find that both students and staff practice both formal and informal greetings depending on the occasion. Students usually say Hi!, Hey! or Hello! while greeting fellow students but when greeting any staff, they use How do you do? or How are you?. Just like students, the staff uses informal greeting among themselves and formal greetings when greeting others. More than 60% of male students and staff mostly use other informal greetings such as awkwardly smiling at each other without saying a word, shaking hands or hug specially and saying Hi buddy?. Female counterparts on the other hand usually hug and say How are you doing or shake hands and say Hello, how are you? while smiling. However, both male and females use formal languages when greeting a person of a different gender. For example, they greet each like How are you? and they respond I am fine, thank you. Furthermore, I observed about 40% of females exchange greetings in the morning by saying How is your morning? while the other respond Very fine, and yours?
Face-to-face interviews could not have yielded sufficient results just like using non-participant approach. The very reason is that using this type of meeting would have resulted in biased responses. Many students or staff will take it as an official interview thus respond in a formal way rather than being free in their greetings. Another aspect is a time which will be used in gathering information. Employing the use of face-to-face interview is time-consuming, and many students would provide less information when they are busy and could affect the final results of the study. Additionally, the face-to-face method can create inconveniencies and affect the privacy of the students or staff on the campus. Students may be engaged in several activities hence getting time to interview them is a hard task. Moreover, using this method would have been not useful because I would not cover large areas of the campus or conduct an interview for several days. Non-participant approach is better because I can collect data anytime and anywhere without engaging the participants.
Although the non-participant approach was critical in this type of research, it majorly relied on non-probability samples. The students and staff sampled were randomly chosen among the population at Oakland university without getting to know their true identity. Practically, all the people within the university may not be from the institution since some may be visitors or friends of students at the campus. In this case, I could not selectively choose who to observe among the population; thus, I may have watched a student or staff, not from Oakland University. The use of non-probability samples in the study means I could not first select the participants into several groups such as new students to senior students then choose respondents among them. The method I used could have used participants of same gender or location who uses same greetings hence could not be used as a representative of all the Oakland students. Non-participant observation applies convenient sampling that ultimately makes its degree of generalizability to be questionable.
Greetings vary depending on occasions and places. In places like churches or offices, people use different greetings which are mainly official. Campus and other learning students are mostly occupied by young people who frequently greet each other informally. I managed to observe how more than 60% of students greet themselves more casually than being official because they are peers of the same age and they have had a day to day interaction. Another reason for my observation is because students have a stronger relationship than people in other places such as a church. This explains why I found that they prefer greetings such as Hey while hugging which will not be appropriate in official places. Furthermore, campus enables students to live together and build strong bonds while interacting during day-to-day activities. This explains why female students engage in warm, casual greetings while smiling to each other and male counterparts participating in funny greetings due to their closeness to the institution.
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