Thursday, 10 October 2013

First interview - the preperation

Today sees the first scheduled interview with one of my inquiry participants. I am both excited and a little nervous as it's the end of the practice, trial, reflection and development phase and into the actual!

I have been careful to schedule students in with as little disruption to their routine as possible, fitting most students in around their breaks down at the studio. I have also made sure to create a working planner of dates, my working hours, and names to ensure that I have incorporated everybody in the run up to half term.
I have also confirmed, or will be confirming in the next couple of days, each participants interview date and time to give them the opportunity to re-schedule if no longer convenient. And also to remind them!
There is only one student, currently, that is unable to fit in anything round her classes so I have arranged to visit her over the half term and take up residence in a quiet room for the duration of the interview.

I have taken time over the last couple of days to trial, reflect and refine my interview questions (my blog Narrowing things down shows the previous draft questions I had developed, and why). I have reduced the amount of questions from seven to six (time was a factor during trial) and created two sections with a brief explanation of the reasoning behind the questions. Here is a link to my proposed interview format:
I hope to have most of this internalised but want to keep a copy handy in case I have a moment of panic or go blank!

In Section 2 the questions 2a. and 2b. are an 'either/ or' situation. If the student is struggling to find or verbalise a response to question 1. then I hope that the fantasy nature of question 2a. might help. For those students who feel happy in their ability to answer question 1. I will give them the opportunity to attach 'teacher significance' to their responses using A4 paper and marker pens (question 2b.).

I feel particularly happy about breaking down the interview into two sections - each themed to a different aspect of motivation - as I believe this will give a structure and purpose to the interview and also provide the participants with a reason for being asked the questions.

My final preparation has been to organise my voice recorder - checking it's batteries and settings for the millionth time - and collect my notebook, pens and pencils.
I have already organised the first page of my notebook with the participant number of my first interviewee (to allow me to connect the correct diary to the interview notes) and will also add this number to the start of the recording (for the same reason). I have also added the date and will do this to the digital recording too.
Nowhere have I made any reference to name of student or anything that might link the data to the student in question.

It'll be great to see what happens after all this planning. What is the old cliche? Isn't it 'never work with children or animals' 13 - 16year old student participants count?!



  1. Hi Sarah,

    How did your first interview go? Did you make notes as well as using the audio recorder? I like that you have prepared two different ways of asking in section 2..I have been trying to look at my questions from different perspectives to see if everybody else would see them the way I intend them to be seen. If not I have tried to find a different way to ask..just in case!

    Hope it's all going well for you, I'm sure it is!

  2. Hi Clare,
    Interview 1 and 2 went really well - well, I enjoyed myself thoroughly and both participants were very enthusiastic and spoke at length, even thanking me for letting them be part of this!
    I had given some time after interview one, before interview two, so that I could transcribe the data. This was invaluable as it allowed me to improve on any weak aspects of the first interview, for example, trying to keep the dialogue seperate and not overlapping with one another - so being more intuitive from non-verbal clues by spending less time making notes with my head down!
    The note taking was great for having information at my fingertips during the interview, and for jotting down little, non-verbal moments. However, I did find, as mentioned above, that time spent looking down to write felt like time taken away from engaging and communication with the interviewee.

    I have found, so far, that using the second question rather than the 'magic wand' question has given the interview more flow, and also, as both students so far have been nothing short of amazing and giving, I haven't felt it necessary to step into the fantastical because of the real world value I have seen students apply to my questions so far.

    I'm sure your questions will be great, and, using that practice interview we did together, I know that you'll put your interviewees at ease straight away and adapt the structure to suit their particular needs.

    Wishing you all the very best with yours,

    P.S. Sorry for the long reply! I probably should have turned it into a post!

    1. Haha, don't apologise!! Well it sounds like they're going really well so far. I have only done one interview, but my participant also talked at length, even apologising for talking to much but it was so useful!

      I know what you mean about the note-taking..I found that I was worried about breaking up the flow of the interview by still scribbling things down after they had finished talking. I suppose having the audio recording can reassure us that it doesnt matter if we don't write everything down but as you said I do still like to make notes as well.

      Glad you have managed to take points from your interviews and make improvements each time..I'm sure they've been great and sounds like they've been hugely useful for your inquiry! x