Structure and program of the interview (interview)
Conducting a study using a conversation method consists of the same steps as conducting research using other methods.
The first thing to be formulated is its purpose. The goal will determine not only what you will question the respondent, but also how the whole conversation will be built and how the subsequent processing of the collected data will be carried out. Already at the planning stage of work there must be a clear idea of what exactly should be obtained as a result of its implementation.
The study can be constructed to test hypotheses, to describe the characteristics of specific subjects (single studies), to supplement information collected through field observation, etc. And in all these cases there will be a specific nature of the preparation of the plan for conducting the conversation.
After choosing the research objective, the structure and the program of the conversation are formed, and the range of potential participants is determined.
The conversation program is the most detailed description of how the interview will be built. The researcher must decide what type of conversation will be used from the point of view of strategy and tactics. Key questions and the approximate logic of the unfolding of the conversation should be formulated. The topics to be raised in the interview are identified, if necessary (when planning a structured or semi-structured interview) questions are formulated that will be asked, their sequence will be determined.
The program of the conversation is drawn up in writing with a detailed account of all the moments that are important for its conduct. If as an interviewer the researcher involves assistants, the program should be stated in such detail that, having become acquainted with it, the assistants could conduct an interview in a qualitative way. If necessary, the interviewers are trained.
Before the start of the main stage of the research, it is necessary to pilot this program - one or two interviews that will help to find out how well developed the program is for the person interviewed and the interviewer, whether the use allows obtaining the necessary information, etc. Never neglect the conduct of aerobatics interviews, as it usually turns out that the original program of the conversation, however good it may seem to the author, is characterized by some shortcomings that can be identified by approbation. It may be insufficiently clearly formulated questions that are incomprehensible to respondents, an illogical sequence of topics discussed for the respondents, and much more. In the main study, you need to use a program, edited on the basis of aerobatics.
Then it is necessary to determine the sample of subjects. After the respondents are found and interviewed with them, the data are processed and analyzed. The whole research process ends with the formulation of meaningful conclusions about the goal and possible hypotheses and the writing of a research report or article.
The choice of participants can be carried out in different ways. Usually, when conducting qualitative research using interviews, the samples are not large, but it is rather difficult to accurately answer the question about how much a person really needs. It always depends on the goals and objectives of the specific work. Some scientists involved in conducting qualitative interviews formulate the answer to this question in the following way: the subjects should be as many as they need to answer the questions posed in the work.
It is believed that conducting more detailed and lengthy interviews with fewer respondents is preferable to conducting surface interviews on a large sample.
It is important not to be mistaken with the choice of respondents, since conducting and processing interviews is a complex and time-consuming process, and it is necessary that time and effort are not wasted, and the subjects selected for the interview could indeed provide the information that the researcher needs.
If the study is devoted to a detailed description of individual cases, it is obvious that only one person becomes interrogated. At the same time, data on the person of interest can be obtained from other people, for example, his immediate family and friends.
A classic example of such research in the United States-language psychological literature is the study of the mnemonist III. (S. Shereshevsky), conducted by AR Luria. Based on conversations, observations and experiments conducted with Shereshevsky, Luria attempted to describe and analyze the outstanding features of this person's memory, the ways he uses to memorize huge volumes of information, as well as the difficulties he faces, trying to forget what he once remembered.
If the aim of the study involves conducting conversations with a large number of subjects, it is necessary to use a suitable sampling strategy for the given case. At the same time, a random sampling approach can be used, since, in most cases, qualitative interviews are organized to study specific problems (for example, the peculiarities of adaptation to the ordinary life of people who have been treated in a psychiatric clinic, or the specifics of the experiences of elderly people living in loneliness, etc.), and the results obtained with their help do not pretend to be generalized to the general population, this method is rarely used. Other approaches are common.
So, the sample can be formed based on the recommendations of people who have already participated in the study. This is a particularly effective approach for cases where people with infrequent characteristics are being investigated. The fact is that people are inclined (and sometimes even forced) to establish social contacts with those who are in a similar life situation, which helps them to cope with emerging difficulties more effectively. For example, if you are interested in the specifics of the life of women who gave birth to the first child over the age of 40, you can find one such respondent to find others through her, wondering if she has any friends who gave birth to the first child at the same age. This approach to sample formation is called a "snowball": the more respondents you have, the more new respondents they can recommend that will increase the sample more and more.
In some cases, the typical representatives of the studied population. For example, if you are interested in secondary school teachers, you can determine what are the typical socio-demographic characteristics of the teacher (for example, a woman aged 35-40 who received a higher pedagogical education belonging to a group of people with average incomes, etc.) and then for research to recruit people matching these characteristics.
Another strategy may be the choice of subjects based on their reputation. So, by studying the characteristics of teachers, you can ask the pedagogical community about who they can recommend as excellent teachers, and conduct research with recommended people.
In addition, the samples can be typed according to the principle of studying the extreme groups, by the severity of the parameters important for the study - for example, students who study very poorly, and students who study very well.
There are a lot of strategies for finding and selecting subjects, and the goal of research usually sets how it will be more appropriate and more convenient to look for respondents.
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