Conducting your own qualitative research is an engaging and effective way to learn about qualitative methodology.
You’re about to conduct your own semi-structured interviews on other students in your class. This will help you understand what a semi-structured interview is, as well as its strengths and limitations. (This activity is designed to go with Lesson 9.1(c) Semi-Structured Interviews in the textbook).
Step One: Choose a topic
Choose a topic that you want to research. Remember that the purpose of qualitative research in psychology is to understand the participants’ subjective experiences of phenomena – i.e. to learn about their experiences with particular things. Therefore, try to choose a topic that your classmates would have some experience with. “Being homeless”, for example, might not be a good topic but “witnessing bullying” could be. (See a list of suggestions at the end of this post).
Step Two: Write your interview schedule
Read pg. 440 of the textbook to learn what an interview schedule is. Once you’re comfortable with what you need to do, create your own 1/2 – 1 page interview schedule for your topic.
Step Three: Conduct your interviews
Find other students who are also ready to conduct interviews and take turns being the interviewer and interviewee. Try to interview at least 3 other students.
Step Four: Group Reflection
Once everyone has conducted some interviews, form a group of 2-4 students and reflect on the semi-structured interview. Try to answer these questions:
- What are two important characteristics of a semi-structured interview?
- What are some strengths of a semi-structured interview?
- What are some limitations?
Good Topic Examples:
- Social life
- Being a teenager
Remember that you want to understand your participants’ experiences with these topics, so your interview schedule should have a range of questions that will help with this.
Alternative Activity Idea – For Teachers
In the past, I’ve conducted a mock semi-structured interview with one volunteer student while the rest of the class watches. The topic I choose is “doing the IB DP.”
Travis Dixon is an IB Psychology teacher, author, workshop leader, examiner and IA moderator.