I am a Researcher…!

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.

researcherAlthough, 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

7 thoughts on “I am a Researcher…!

  1. Dear Zhyldyzay,

    Thank you for very honest and plain demonstration of your first experience in data collection – errors and discovering.
    Yes, I totally agree that making notes while interview is very problematic. You have to manage multiple things at the same time – taking notes, maintaining a conversation, thinking over the other questions, keeping the time limit… Furthermore, some respondents feel nervous about your taking notes while they are speaking. Voice recorder or Dictaphone may resolve the issues.

    Secondly, your challenges with interview questions construction really reflect my own problems with it. It takes so much time and effort. I But the proper interview questions are the starting point to valid and credible research findings.

    good luck!


  2. Dear Zhuldyzay,

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I think that most of us encountered almost the same difficulties in conducting interviews. As for me personally I tried to follow the steps described in Cresswell’s work and more or less I felt more confident after writing Thesis Proposal last year.

    The topic you are writing about seemed to me very appealing and significant. I am sure that many stakeholders will benefit from your study.

    Good luck!


  3. Dear Zhuldyzay,
    I liked your way of writing the process of your experience in asking the questions. In my practice I made the same mistakes (with the recorder, questions, taking notes etc.). It is like our first exam in right way of conducting the interview.
    My question is: Do you think that for our successful thesis results from the interview we need more practice in such kind of small-case research?


    1. Dear Assem,
      Thank you for your comment!
      As to your question, I think such mini scale researches are really helpful to prepare us to successful thesis writing. From my first experience I could learn a lot to consider while collecting the data! I hop you have the same opinion! Good luck in your thesis writing!


  4. Dear Zhuldyzai,
    Thank you for sharing the obstacles you faced in your small-scale research about online teaching among your colleagues. Reading our groupmates blogs I noticed such similarities among the challenges they faced with. They are difficulty of creating aligned interview questions, choosing suitable number of participants, interview takes a lot of time, and transcribing audio with the participants’ answers is time-consuming.
    I have some questions to you:
    1. Is it enough to interview 2 volunteers to get different perspectives?
    2. What do you imply by “different perspectives” or you meant how two opinions can be diverse?
    3. Were your assumptions about the expectations from the small-scale research justified?


  5. Dear Almira!
    Since the task is called mini scale research, I decided to take 2 teachers only. Even though there were 2 participants,it was really challenging for me to cope. I thought that the idea of our instructors’ was to let us practice interviewing and feel the atmosphere.By “different perspectives” I meant Interview gives the researcher chance to ask additional follow up questions to understand Interviewees perception in details. Certainly, I learnt the basics of Interviewing people and became pleased about the data I could collect.


  6. Thank you Zhuldyzay for the post, and all the commenters with some great feedback. I am quite interested (and pleased!) to see all your critical questions and sharing experience. Certainly, this thesis project is a large undertaking, but it does give you something like a practice run at your data collection methods.

    Your writing is overall very good, but I’d like to point out one comma misuse and a wordy sentence:

    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.

    I’d try to cut down the phrases with “that” and be sure to use commas for all two-clause sentence that start with the dependent clause.

    “Despite my proximity to the research site, it was not always possible to meet with interviewees due to their heavy school workload.” 35% fewer words, but keeps the same clear message.



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