I would like to share my first experience of conducting mini research to study the teaching and learning challenges in online education. I have chosen 2 volunteer teachers who are striving to make online education widespread in our school. However they claim that they face challenges working online and much effort should be done to achieve their goals. I interviewed them and experienced the difficulties myself too.
The first difficulty I faced was the development of interview questions. I spent hours on thinking how to construct the questions so that they helped me to answer my research questions and sub-questions. Moreover, it was challenging to avoid biased and leading questions.
The pre-interview period was followed by the interview process itself. Probably, because it was my first experience as a researcher the first thing I forgot was to record the interview. By the time I realized the absence of the tape recorder I started to take notes spontaneously. But it was a lesson for me and prepared the tools in advance for the second interview.
One more weakness of my first interview was that I acknowledged the interviewees about the confidentiality and ethical issues in the end of the interview. In addition, I made an agreement about the interview a few days ahead; however, we couldn’t meet at the set time. Despite the fact that I had a good proximity to the research site it was not always possible to meet with interviewees. The reason for this was that teachers were overloaded with school work.
Although, I had different challenges during the interviews, there were advantageous moments. Interview provided me the opportunity to investigate the main phenomena from different perspectives. I had a chance to ask follow-up questions which helped me to understand teachers’ attitudes and experiences in detail.
Summing up, it was a challenging but learning experience for me at the same time. I could feel myself as a real researcher. Also, I understood the important aspects of data collection process which I need to consider further.
Image retrieved from http://images.idiva.com/media/photogallery/2011/Aug/10_things_you_shouldnt_do_at_an_interview9_600x450.jpg