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Spaghetti Diagram

A “Spaghet­ti dia­gram” is a sim­ple and visu­al method to illus­trate move­ments — for exam­ple, young peo­ple’s move­ments in urban space.

Aerial view of pedestrian crossing.

As a method, Spaghet­ti Dia­gram can be used to exam­ine urban­i­ty and mar­gin­al­iza­tion. If you need an intro­duc­tion to the spaghet­ti chart, it may be a good idea to read about key con­cepts in research design, such as sci­en­tif­ic the­o­ry, par­a­digms, cog­ni­tive inter­ests, and quan­ti­ta­tive and qual­i­ta­tive science.

As a teacher, you can also intro­duce spe­cif­ic quan­ti­ta­tive and qual­i­ta­tive meth­ods and you can pos­si­bly give the stu­dents dif­fer­ent bound assign­ments, where they must try out dif­fer­ent research meth­ods in the same area or at the same location.

See exam­ples below.

Spaghetti Diagram

Exam­ple of a spaghet­ti dia­gram made by a group of students

As an intro­duc­tion to the theme, the lec­tur­ers can give var­i­ous pre­sen­ta­tions on key con­cepts in study design, e.g., quan­ti­ta­tive and qual­i­ta­tive sci­ence, as well as sci­en­tif­ic the­o­ry, e.g. par­a­digms or cog­ni­tive interests.

Make a quan­ti­ta­tive obser­va­tion of a place in the city or of a tar­get group of your choice. You can choose what you observe, but sug­ges­tions are for example:

  • How many peo­ple use the place?
  • How many are stand­ing, sit­ting, walking?
  • Divide into cat­e­gories e.g., gen­der, age
  • How is the place used?
  • How are the move­ments in place — make maps / lines / and the like.
  • Based on the obser­va­tion, you must choose a form of report­ing. Make either sta­tis­tics, counts or a spaghet­ti diagram.

After­wards it must be pos­si­ble to show and share the fin­ished prod­uct with the oth­er stu­dents and dis­cuss what new insight did you get from this method. 

Make a qual­i­ta­tive obser­va­tion of the same place or tar­get group as you did the quan­ti­ta­tive study. When tak­ing notes, you can use the ques­tions below. 

  • How is the atmos­phere at the place?
  • Who uses the place? And how do they look?
  • What is the place used for — what qual­i­ties does the place have?
  • How is light and sound?

Your notes can con­sist of qual­i­ta­tive field notes, pic­tures and maybe sounds, draw a draw­ing, or find an arti­fact that sym­bol­izes the place. Remem­ber to note down time and place.

You must be able to present the fin­ished prod­uct for the oth­er stu­dents and maybe dis­cuss what new insight you got from this method.

Extra task — if appro­pri­ate and if you are brave:

Do some “vox­pop” inter­views, i.e., quick inter­views with on-site infor­mants. For exam­ple, you can ask the fol­low­ing questions:

  • How long have you known about this place?
  • Are you here often?
  • Have you learned any­thing from this place? — if so: what?
  • How will this place be in the future, do you think?

The assign­ments can be set as study assign­ments, which the stu­dents present for each oth­er.  In the pre­sen­ta­tions the groups present their research work, and the teach­ers relate the stu­dents’ pre­lim­i­nary work to the­o­ries, con­cepts and research studies.

It is also pos­si­ble to give the stu­dents a final assign­ment on the course. It can be, for exam­ple, a writ­ten assignment.