Interviewing Methods: Getting Participants to Talk

Everyone knows, in principle, what an interview is. What many may be surprised to discover
is the sheer diversity in kinds of interviews available to researchers. In her doctoral
project, The Making of the Teacher-Subject in England from 1970 to 2019, Louise Vincent is
keen to examine how schoolteachers make sense of their becoming, and being, teachers.
She is presently conducting standalone, semi-structured interviews with 30 research
participants across England. Her interlocutors are all current, former, or retired teachers
who completed formal teacher training between 1970 and 2019, spending most of their
careers in English state schools. Since the project is interested in the historical changes of
the profession, each decade will be represented by 6 participants: 6 will have completed
their training between 1970 to 1979, 6 between 1980 to 1989…etc. The interviews make use
of ‘graphic elicitation and arts-based methods’ (Bagnoli, 2009), such as visual timelines,
spider diagrams, and semantic maps, to draw out personal narratives that organise ‘the
interactions between sequence, context, and meaning’ (Saint Arnault and Sinko, 2021, p. 2).
The interviews are interpreted through a combination of narrative and critical discourse
analyses (Souto-Manning, 2014, Tomboukou in Andrews et al., 2007). Louise’s talk will
address her experience of employing interviews as a research method, beginning with her
exploration of theory and the literary debate, to planning, piloting, and carrying out
interviews in the field, and finally data management and analysis. In short, the what,
the how, and the why of research interviews.

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