For the first time, I experienced conducting an interview for research purposes in the first year of studying at Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Education. During the fall session, our Inquiry Methods course professors gave us a group assignment that consisted of two parts: quantitative and qualitative. The qualitative part of that small-scale research focused on exploring challenges faced by NU undergraduate students during their first year at university and strategies they used for coping with those challenges. With the rest of the group, we created questions for the interviews and “went to the field to collect data”. It was not difficult to find participants for our mini-research since the NU atrium is always full with students. Each of the group members was supposed to conduct two interviews. As I remember, the whole process took me of about an hour and a half, and in the end, I had two interviews recorded on my phone. Later, with my groupmates we went through all the steps of data analysis and succeeded in drawing conclusions based on our findings. That experience was very useful and helpful in terms of guiding me further in working on other assignments, especially, on my real thesis.
For exploring the perceptions of 2nd year NUGSE students about using blogging in academic writing in a foreign language I also decided to follow the qualitative approach and use an interview as an instrument. Based on the previous experience, I can say that interviews are a great tool of receiving in-depth information about a particular phenomenon. However, this instrument of data collection has its own weaknesses as well. It is obvious that interviewing is quite a time-consuming process, which cannot be conducted spontaneously at any place. The place for the interview should be quiet and convenient for the interviewee in order for the researcher to obtain enough information. To be honest, collecting data for the mini-research this time was much more challenging even in terms of recruiting the participants. All my groupmates were too busy working on their assignments, therefore, it was a little problematic to find time and place convenient for them. Fortunately, two of my groupmates agreed to participate in the short (5 questions) interview, and I was able to record their answers on my phone. I was lucky because both participants had experience in blogging and gave in-depth and extended answers.
I have become more experienced in conducting interviews while working on the mini-thesis this time. In my proposed thesis research project, I am also using qualitative approach with semi-structured interviews. Of course, the interviews for the real thesis will contain more questions, and therefore, more time will be spent on the process. I am also thinking of creating some follow-up and directing questions in case I end up having interviewees who are not very eager to provide extended answers or lose focus easily.