Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Talking in circles?

Sitting in a Qualitative Research workshop at Henley this afternoon and it's a session on interviewing in research data gathering. My project will be using a lot of interviews, and a thought has struck me.

Many researchers will be able to place their interviews on a continuum that ranges from unstructured to semi-structured to structured. But perhaps there is another continuum, one which looks at the extent to which the reactions and changes to the interviewee as a result of being interviewed is part of the research.
  • At one end, the interview could be seen as simply a channel to access data (mining?) and what is transmitted in the interview leaves the interviewee untouched and unchanged and whether or not the interviewee changes is of no interest to the researcher.
  • In the middle is an area where the interviewee, indirectly but as a result of the interview, finds routes to personal change. However, that change is not germane to the research question and is not of interest to the researcher.
  • Finally, at the other end, is whether or not the interviewee finds change (at least in part) is the research question.
Is there a mix of levels in the dual purpose and circularity in the latter? 1. I'm collecting data from you and on you, and my questions are, in part, responsible for the data that I'm collecting. 2. I am interested in how you learn and how you change, and I'm starting from the position that you are limited in your current habits of learning.

More thinking needed...

No comments: