Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Thoughts on interviewing in the research

Have done a couple of the post-experience interviews now and 3 more tomorrow (10/10/12). Was a bit uncertain about how these would go as it isn't something I feel particularly comfortable about. I'm definitely someone with more of a quantitative bent. So what are my initial thoughts? What follows here is all a bit 'stream of consciousness' but I suppose it's good to get these thoughts down now:
  • Videoing the participants' interaction with the model (control or intervention) is definitely a good idea. It avoids problems with recall, allows them to articulate their thought processes while watching themselves and provides a great basis for the early, unstructured part of the interview.
  • It might be possible to analyse and code the videos themselves. I'm not sure this is worthwhile but I'll definitely reflect a bit more on this.
  • Starting off by getting the participants to view the video and articulate what they were thinking and doing seems to have worked/is working well. It has already raised a couple of issues that I definitely didn't expect and may not have got without this approach - e.g. using self-testing and seeking feedback on knowledge, adopting a systematic approach to the self-directed tutorial knowing that they would be tested again afterwards.
  • With regards this last point; I wonder if this is a positive or negative issue? Does the fact that they might be preparing themselves for 'a test' influence how they interpret and use the model? Might this be an example of some sort of 'Hawthorne effect' - i.e. the participants are adjusting their behaviour in relation to how they use the model because they know they are involved in research and will be tested afterwards? Is it the 'post-test' that is foremost in their mind rather than learning about the spatial relationships of the anatomical structures. I'm not sure you can separate learning and assessment anyway so maybe it isn't important.
  • Is there a danger that I will place too much emphasis on these unexpected issues at this early stage and identify them as important themes? I should test these out in subsequent interviews but maybe it is too early to do that. Purposive sampling at the moment. Theoretical sampling later?
  • Trying to get my head around Grounded Theory (GT) is difficult. The language used in relation to it seems unecessarily complex and, in many cases, not intuitive at all. It is driving me nuts.
  • A discussion with a colleague about GT has helped somewhat and I have a clearer idea about how to go about coding the transcriptions and managing the data.
  • I need to start transcribing SOON while it is fresh in my mind. I intend to transcribe at least the first few myself to help with some immersion in the data but I know it is time consuming and mind numbingly boring so have been putting it off. I have a 'free' day this week and I WILL get on and do it. Honestly.
  • I'm not sure exactly how to 'link' the qualitative data with the quantitative data yet - e.g. emerging themes/categories with characteristics of the participants such as spatial ability/learning styles/baseline knowledge etc. I think I may start by mapping these on flip chart paper but not sure. Will need to discuss further with supervisor.
  • How many interviews??? At the moment it's early days and I'm pretty much interviewing all participants who volunteer but as the number increases I will be able to monitor whether all important characteristics within participants are being included - e.g. good and poor spatial ability, those with very strong/divergent learning styles, male/female, range of ages etc. and continue the purposive sampling until I start to see saturation of themes.
  • Wonder if it might be a good idea to use a focus group or two after this to test out emerging propositions?
Give me statistics any day of the week!

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