Research Assignment #1


This two-part assignment asks you to conduct a small study of your activities with your Smartphone. The first part involves keeping a log of your Smartphone activities over the course of five (5) consecutive days: you must use the format of the chart provided. The second part consists of writing a report that analyzes your findings.

Both parts must be submitted as a single file.


1200-1500 words for the written report itself. The log data in the table is not to be part of the word count.


The purpose of the assignment is to notice and think self-reflexively about what you do with your Smartphone, and to consider its prevalence and significance in your life (work, family, friends, personal etc). The assignment logs your activity and use with the Smartphone – both online and offline. The assignment also asks that you think about the patterns of your Smartphone use and how these can be broadly framed around three key things: information seeking, communication & interaction, and content creation. If you do not own or use a Smartphone or cellular phone phone, contact your TA to discuss.

Log of Smartphone (cellular or smart phones) Activities

Start as soon as possible. The earlier you start, the more time you will have to reflect on the data. Waiting too late to start your log is a major cause of poorly done assignments.
You are graded on the thoroughness of your Smartphone log: the more detailed the log is, the better. Example entries have been provided to you.
The log will provide a clear sense of what you do on your Smartphone (on/offline) each day over the course of five consecutive days. The log includes offline and online activities, which means that some students might have very full logs if they do a lot of different things with the phone (ie camera, GPS, music player, video camera, voice recorder, clock, compass – and so on) – while others might do much less with their phone (especially if it isn’t smart!). Whatever your experience and relationship is with your phone, your data will show you the significance and role of your phone/mobile device in your day to day life.
If the log is poorly done, and this is usually reflected in your grade.
Log ALL of your activities. The goal is that your log is detailed. Your log should NOT consist of just a few long items: the point is to break down and record your Smartphone activities systematically with timestamps, and this requires many distinct items to be present.
Please do not log, detail, or describe any intimate or sexual activities. It is not appropriate for this assignment.

Your Analysis

Before you write your paper, you should ask yourself some questions so that you can begin to see any interesting patterns of use and integration. Here are some questions to guide you as you are examining your log/data (that doesn’t mean that you’ll discuss every question here in your submission).

How much time do I spend using my phone overall in a day? Are these five days typical?
How much time is spent using online apps on the phone? Which apps do I use the most?
How much time do I spend using my phone ‘offline’ (ie like a camera, music player, notepad)?
Where do my use my phone the most? in one place, a few places, or in constant motion?
How much do I use my phone for information seeking? For communication & social interaction? For leisure & hobbies? For work? For health? and so forth
How much time do I spend ‘creating content’? (Posting, sharing, liking, loving, up/down voting, commenting, rating/reviewing etc).

Look for anything interesting, any patterns, and perhaps anything that surprised you.

Next, consider the following questions:

What role does your Smartphone phone play in your

information seeking, communication, and content creation?

Your response to this questions will guide your report. Consider why is it (or why is it not) significant in your day-to-day living.

A Guide to the Report

Introduction (1-2 paragraphs)

Offer a sentence or two of some context for your report, perhaps about Smartphone use broadly (cite sources used)
Provide a sentence or two that outlines the process of your data collection and analysis
State the Research Question: What role does my Smartphone phone play in my information seeking, communication, and content creation?
Provide a topic sentence or a thesis statement (this is the road map of the report for the reader), which responds to the research question: Outline its significance.

Discussion (3-6 paragraphs)

Be sure to connect each discussion point to the topic sentence or thesis statement that you stated in the introduction. Each discussion point will be one or two paragraphs, depending on your writing style.
Discussion Point 1 Information Seeking (includes one module reading & one outside source)
Discussion Point 2 Communication (includes one module reading & one outside source)
Discussion Point 3 Content Creation (includes one module reading & one outside source)

Conclusion (1 paragraph)

Recap the original question and your topic sentence or thesis statement.
Offer some bigger picture insights and thoughts about significance and social implications

Important Notes:

You are required to include three course readings (from any of the required readings lists from M1/M2/M3) – one for each discussion point – in support of your data analysis and discussion. It is okay to use three different readings from only one module, provided you use them well and effectively to support your argument and analysis.
You are required to include three outside ACADEMIC sources – one for each discussion point – in support of your analysis and discussion. It is recommended that you use journal articles, which are peer reviewed. Do some research. Avoid media articles (newspaper, magazines, blog posts) to support your arguments. Media articles are good in identifying social issues that you can then speak to and assess academically (with research/academic support).
You are only permitted to submit ONE file in Sakai. You cannot submit the log and written part separately. If you do not know how to insert a table into your document, then you need to do the research online to learn how to do so. Do not include pictures of a written log in your assignment – please follow the instructions carefully or your assignment will not be accepted or you will not be able to build your grade properly.
The tone of this submission will depend on the student. You can either write in persuasive or opinion writing (which is emotion based), or argumentative writing, in which you are proving a point with evidence (which is logic based). It is up to you – but, the argument needs to be convincing and consistent. Strong writers know how to bridge persuasive and argumentative styles.
You are required to stay within the minimum and maximum word count, or you will be penalized one mark. In-text citations are included in the word count. Reference list is not included in the word count. APA format does not include titles, page numbers, or running headers in the word count.
Double space your submission. Include a Title Page. Your pages should be numbered.
A reminder that resources have been provided to you regarding APA citing & referencing style, paraphrasing, how to write critically, how to write a paper – in Resources Files tab in Sakai. Properly cite and reference any readings that you use in APA format. Submissions that do not cite and reference material properly will not be accepted and will result in a zero. This means, if nothing is cited in your submission and there is no reference list – it will not be accepted. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure they are meeting university standards for academic writing, regardless of what your home department is.
Your submission must include a Reference List (not Works Cited or Bibliography) formatted in APA that includes a list of material you cited. Remember that Reference List entries are alphabetized.
Please pay attention to your writing style: grammar and punctuation matter. Have someone proofread your work. Your submission must follow the paragraph structure provided to you.
Do not use any direct quotes in your module submission. You will be penalized one mark if you use ANY direct quotes. Paraphrase and cite properly.
TAs cannot pre-read assignments before they are submitted. Please ask your TA specific questions about the assignment if you have them. Email is the best way to contact your TA rather than the Sakai Chat room.
Please name your Research Assignment file properly with course number, First name, last name, and assignment name. For example: COMM2F00FirstnameLastnameRA1.doc

Example of Smartphone Phone Log



APPs / Features


Location of Use

Type of Content

Description of Use





Home /Living Room


Info Seeking

Content Creation

Checking email first time of the day, responded to some;

browsing through morning news stories on Reddit & ranking some; made comments.







Content Creation

Listened to my playlist on iTunes while I took the Dog for a walk.

Stopped and took a couple of pictures of flowers & posted to Instagram.






Texting a friend about getting together for a coffee; answering messages from previous evening.





Content Creation

Checked and liked posts in Instagram feed; posted some photos to Instagram.


11:30 –





Info Seeking

Content Creation

Logged into Facebook; responded to messages; followed links outside of Facebook like Buzzfeed. Liked a couple of posts; commented on friend’s posts, posted a status update; shared a post from a friend.




Home / Kitchen

Info Seeking

Googled recipes for Vegetarian Lasagna to make for dinner.



Pocket Yoga

Basement/ Studio


Content Creation

Followed a video Yoga Practice on Pocket Yoga; shared it on Reddit


8:00 -10:00pm





Content Creation

Watched 2 episodes of Strange World on Netflix; tweeted during the episode with other fans


10:30 –






Read a few chapters of the book “Becoming” by Michelle Obama.

How to submit this assignment:

This submission is ONE file: your filled-out log must be present in the file you submit: if no log is present, or if the log is left blank, a permanent grade of 0 will be issued for your assignment being incomplete.
We will not be tracking down assignments: you must submit properly and on-time.
Do not wait until the last ten minutes to submit your module response.
Go to Assignments on Sakai.
Click Research Assignment and and click ‘Add Attachments’. The file must be a .doc file, or a .pdf file. (Note: If you are using a Mac, you can convert a Pages document into a word .doc file by going to the menu bar and choosing: ‘File’ – ‘Export’– ‘Word’).
Files that cannot open and/or incorrect files will receive a grade of 0.
Check and double check to ensure that the file is attached and is the correct file. After submitting, you must review your submission so you can see/confirm the file.
Check your Turnitin report (which is generated immediately) to make sure you’ve paraphrased properly (remember, no direct quotes are permitted in this course).
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have uploaded your file into Sakai. You have a maximum of five re-submission attempts BEFORE the deadline passes, so that you can save a working draft in the system if you choose.

Late Policy

Note that the assignment is due BY 11:45PM, which means the penalty begins AT 11:45pm (don’t leave your submissions to the last minute!). Late assignments receive 10% per day penalty, and will only be accepted up to seven days past the due date, and the assignment closes on Sakai.
A technical problem does not warrant an extension without late penalty.
If you noticed that you uploaded the incorrect file, and then you submit the correct one late – you will be given a late penalty. Please make sure that you are submitting the correct file – this is why we name our files. Most of the people incorrectly submitting do not have their files names correctly/effectively.
Requests to waive late penalties must be accompanied by medical documentation, which must include the Brock University medical form. You MUST notify your TA as soon as possible if you are ill – BEFORE the assignment is due.

RA1 Grading Rubric

The assignment is graded as a whole: it is about how your Smartphone usage log and your report work together to analyze your data. Use this as a checklist for yourself. The TAs will be using this as they grade your work, and will be commenting on each section.

Smartphone Log of Activities

Includes five days of Smartphone usage log
Is thorough and detailed, not vague and general
Provides a clear account of activities/rich data to work with


Offers some context for the report (cite source used)
Introduces the process of data collection and analysis
Provides the research question: What role does my Smartphone play in information seeking, communication, and content creation?
Provides a clear topic sentence or a thesis statement in response, and outlines its significance.


Connects each discussion point to topic sentence or thesis statement
Discussion Point 1 Information Seeking (includes one module reading & one outside source)
Discussion Point 2 Communication (includes one module reading & one outside source)
Discussion Point 3 Content Creation (includes one module reading & one outside source)
Outside sources used are academic/peer reviewed; course sources used are pertinent to discussion
Critically analyzes and moves beyond descriptive commentary


Recaps the research question and topic sentence or thesis statement a
Offers some bigger picture insights (the so-what?) and thoughts about significance and social implications


In-text citations follow APA format
Reference List is provided and in APA format

Writing Style

Submission falls within the required word count; is double spaced, includes title page, pages are numbered
Flows well organizationally with clear writing style & proper tone; introduction, body with supporting evidence, and conclusion
Presents discussion free of typos, and free of grammar, punctuation, spelling, and paragraph structure errors
Tone is appropriate to the discussion and analysis


Framework of Grading

Incomplete 50s D

Submission is missing key components of the assignment guidelines – ie log incomplete.

Inaccuracies 60s C

Submission does not fully follow assignment guidelines or requirements, is missing some aspects of the guidelines ie no outside sources included

Needs Work 70s B

Submission follows requirements, but has areas that need improvement, such as depth of analysis ie it’s too descriptive; the thesis statement is weak or underdeveloped

Meets Criteria 80s A

Submission follows all guidelines and meets all assignment requirements in a coherent way.

Exceeds Expectations 90 A+

Submission reflects a level of analysis that goes beyond what is expected at a second year course level.

Additional resources for assignment
RA1 FW2020.pdf ( 52 KB; Dec 1, 2020 6:59 am )

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