My interviewing experience

In this post I would like to share my experience of data collection by interviewing. According to my research design I was supposed to interview teachers and students of secondary schools. I will highlight for the future researchers that conversation with grown-ups and conversation with children are absolutely two different things. In this post I will focus on my experience of communicating with children since I found it really interesting and challenging.

To start with, dealing with psychology of communication in theory is different from what happens in practice. According to my plan I was going to have a focus-group interview where each participant would have a chance to speak one by one. I started the interview in a friendly way, explained what was going to happen, and asked to answer the questions in turns. In fact, it was not easy to make children take turns, as sometimes one student would jump up and start answering instead of the student whose turn it was to speak. Consequently, the student who failed to answer when it was his turn, refused to answer later because he/she felt offended. Then I had to be more persistent and when asking a question I would name the person I wanted to answer.

Another issue I did not know about is that students may repeat each other’s answer. For example, after somebody’s answer a student would say ” I also like to play…”. In such cases I had to ask specifying questions like: What exactly do you like to play? When?, etc.

Another issue that turned to be a problem is that it mattered when I had a conversation: in the morning the students were sleepy, before physical education they were too excited and could not concentrate on the questions, if there was a sofa in the room some of them would lie on it and distract the others.

Besides, in my consent form I planned to give students incentives in the form of sweets. In reality, teachers recommended not to bring any sweets, and, thus, I brought some small gifts to the participants.

Overall, after this funny and challenging experience, I should say, that even though I prepared well for the interviews and piloted the questions, when it came to reality, with children you can not plan a 100% perfect plan of an interview. Be ready for spontaneous things.

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