What is Qualitative Interviewing?

 

Why Interview? Purposes of Interviews

What Types of Interviews?

What Kinds of Information Can be Obtained?

What is Triangulation?

How to Start?

What is Culture?

What is Art?

What is Education?

_______________________________________________________

WHAT ARE YOUR MAJOR RESEARCH QUESTIONS?

WHAT IS YOUR METHODOLOGY (10)

WHAT IS YOUR PROCEDURE [UNDER ORAL HISTORY]

WHAT ARE YOUR CONCLUSIONS?

FUTURE IMPLICATIONS OR SUGGESTIONS FOR RESEARCH?

Additional Questions for Qualitative Interviews?

References

 

What is Qualitative Interviewing?

Qualitative Interviewing is an adventure in learning about teaching in different countries, their cultural views, their problems and solutions, and how their practices are similar and different than our own. The way we interview depends on what we want to know. It is a process of finding out what others feel and think about their worlds. The result is to understand the major points of their message and how it compares [similar & different] to your own situation. Not only do you need to be a good conversationalist, but also a good listener.

[Rubin, Herbert & Rubin, Irene. (1995). Qualitative interviewing: The art of hearing data.Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.]

 

Qualitative Interviewing is part of Ethnography, a systematic study of ethnos (usully an ethnic group). Building ethnographic research is like a detective story. Need to use your sociological imagination to find out what made it possible (p.7).Alasuutari (1998) admires work of Sir Conan Doyle or Sherlock Holmes; e.g., A Study in Scarlet (1887). If common sense is thin description, then ethnographic sense is “thick description” (Geertz, 1973).

 

Interviewers have different styles. Style is an organized assembly of different manifestations, which can be described in different ‘languages” such as music, dress, and behavior (p.110). However, style, in the sense of this all-pervasive idea, is not reduced to an single element reflecting or defining it, nor to any external cause or factor. It reflects the whole culture. Differentce in male & female styles?

[Alasuutari, Pertti. (1998). An invitation to social research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale].

 

 

Why Interview? Purposes of Interviews

1. Generate insights and concepts not generalize (universalize) about them. .{State in your study: These finding are not generalizable for all …. students but they pertain to this context that limits my study.]

2. Expand our understanding (social concept).

3. To search for exceptions to the rule (universal) by charting extreme cases (person or a class or a city).

4. To document historical idiosyncratic cases--personalities; e.g., Ken Beittel the Guru with 45 doctoral studies on his teaching (pottery).

5. Your results can be validated elsewhere with several other interviews; such as the students of a teacher or 3 decades of teaching.

 

What Types of Interviews?

Several types of interviews exist: topical oral history, life history, evaluation interview, focus group interview, and cultural interviews.

Topical interviews are concerned with the facts and sequence of an event. The interviewer is interested in a reconstruction of the experience and what happened; for instance, what happened at the InSEA Conference in Brisbane Australia. The researcher actively directs questions in pursuit of precise facts.

Life histories deal with individual experiences or rites of passage. In oral histories, one collects information about a dying lifestyle or art skills. These result in narratives and stories that interpret the past.

Evaluation interviews examine new programs or school developments and suggests improvements. Since evaluation deals with incorrect behaviors as well as positive ones, justifications [accounts] of behaviors result. The result may consist of myths and unresolved tensions (Patton, 1990).

In focus group interviews people meet to share their impressions and changes of thinking or behavior regarding a product or an institution. Participants may be strangers and make an effort to preserve their competency and may not admit faults.

The cultural interview focuses on “the norms, values, understandings, and taken-for-granted rules of behavior of a group or society” (p. 28). This type of interview reports on TYPICAL shared activities and their meanings. The style of interview is relaxed and questions flow naturally with no fixed agenda. People are interviewed several times so that emerging themes are pursued later. The interviewer, for example, may ask them to DESCRIBE A TYPICAL DAY. The partner then relates what is important with examples. The truth of the fact is not as important as “how well it illustrates the [cultural] premises and norms” (p.29). For example, in a Christian culture, you may be told about the significance of the value of behaving with concern for other people (p. 29). In the cultural interview, the interviewer is partner and co-constructs the interview and report. The cultural report, besides being the expert’s story, is credible because it consists of the words of members of the culture. We assume that people are basically honest and that they share similar views. The researcher can mix types of interviews and approaches.

A qualitative interview is different from everyday conversation in the following ways. First it is a research tool and a good interviewer must prepare questions in advance, and later analyze and report results. The interviewer guides the questions and focuses the study. Good interview skills require practice and reflection. Finally, beyond the acquisition of interview skills, interviewing is a philosophy of learning. The interviewer becomes a student and then tries to get people to describe their experiences in their own terms. The results are imposed obligations on both sides. The qualitative researcher’s philosophy determines what is important, what is ethical, and the completeness and accuracy of the results (Rubin & Rubin, 1995, p.2).

Several researchers have argued that structured interviews are unnatural and restrictive. Informal interviews get “deeper.” For example, if you want to find out why someone acted in a certain way, ask him/her. One must negotiate an explanation that consistent and believable. This results in an explanation of the meaning of the action for the people (Alasuutari, 1998, p. 143). The interviewer follows up an interview with more questions for clarification or understanding. The key is to establish “rapport and trust” (p.145). During the interview, a person may change his/her interpretation.

Contrast Between a Topical Interview and Cultural Interview? In a topical interview, you get one chance and no time to re-interview. The ideal would be a series of interviews where one can pursue a list of cultural concepts and themes. In cultural interviews, most of the selection or questions is done between interviews. One learns “how the people see, understand, and interpret their world” (Rubin & Rubin, 1995, p.195) In contrast to the topical interview in which interviewers are concerned mainly with their own questions and agenda, the qualitative questioner is more interested in what people in the studied culture reveal and find of concern. In the beginning, keep the scope of the interview open and flexible with few interrupting questions (p.175). The researcher needs to listen to what the people are saying about their experiences. One looks at the given stories, narratives, and examples. The cultural foundations will come later. Second, one can look at a culture’s icons (religious or heroic) to discover admired qualities (defiance, bravery, cleverness, and persistence), or iconic statements (that reflect cultural discontent or iconic events (Woodstock). Eventually, one makes inferences about underlying norms and themes hidden in examples. In summary, similar to a fisherman, cast your net and slowly reel in the options.

 

What Kinds of Information Can be Obtained?

Rubin and Rubin (1995) identify several information types: narratives, accounts, fronts, stories, and myths (p. 24-27). To project a front is to act in an acceptable way--the way others expect, to give an impression. For example, at a meeting professors may convey confidence but not personally feel it. When person justifies their actions, they give accounts, culturally acceptable reasons for their behavior. When asked, “Why were you absent from the meeting?” the professor responded that he felt sick. Stories, on the other hand, may communicate a broad message or set of morals.

 

Participant Observation and Qualitative Interviewing?

Crossing borders can be difficult if one is an outsider. In trying to understand a culture, a researcher needs to become a student in order to be taught, a kind of particpant observer. The process takes time, proceeds slowly, and involves times of inactivity or just “hanging around.” Various approaches can be undertaken: become a novice in the desired institution (an established practice); learn the language (national and specific jargon); attend meetings, and read books about the subject. Some studies deal with a social problem in which one pursues the meaning of a perplexing problem or behavior, or a life history deals with how people understand rites of passage, and even oral histories about past values and norms.

 

What is Triangulation?

Triangulation is a process of verification [checking for truth] that increases validity by incorporating three different viewpoints and methods. Sevigny (1978) calls a combination of all three stances triangulation, a sociological process of viewing a situation from all three perspectives. You can also achieve triangulation by using different research techniques. For instance, in his study of five university drawing courses, he incorporated audiotapes, interviews, and diary writing. He also warns that accepting the full participant stance, and not relating the perspective of the observer, has its consequence of refusal of the observed to grant permission to use the study. Wolcott (1988) suggests that triangulated techniques are helpful "for cross-checking, or for ferreting out varying perspectives on complex issues and events" (p. 192).

Sevigny, M. (1978). A descriptive study of instructional interaction and performance appraisal in a university studio art setting: A multiple perspective. (Doctoral dissertation, The Ohio State University, 1977). Dissertation Abstracts International, 38, 6477-A.

Wolcott, H. (1988). Ethnographic research in education. In R. Jaegger (Ed.). Complementary methods for research in art education (pp. 187-206). Washington, DC: American Education Research .Association.

 

How to Start?

One can start the interview in several ways. For example, take a physical or verbal tour and ask major questions about important places along the way (Spradley, 1979, p. 86). Ask about a typical class, school day, the major teaching tactics, or the important events in the school year. One can further ask how this school compares to others.

There are several ways to pursue themes and concepts. Next comes probing questions for specifics, mainly for examples. A probe is a gesture (worried look) or a quick comment to elicit explanation about a specific occurrence. In order to explore tension, ask about a similar incident or an opposite to determine conditions or causes of an event. Sometimes, one wants a real example, but gets a hypothetical one. At times, the interviewee poses as a “front;” in other words, offers answers {exaggerated) that they think you expect. At other times, s/he tries to explain meanings simply and trivializes the event or presents a bad translation (p.191). One can ask for verification of meaning; for example, the question “Is talking to people about the benefits [lobbying] a form of advocacy? Furthermore, questions that seek coverage may ask, “What does this include?” Is s/he an intermediary? Or ask, “Which of your other projects includes collaboration?” For a more refined answer, ask, ”What does this include? When else would you use this term? The truth of your Qualitative Interview depends on whom you interviewed and why, did s/he stay focused, and if you trust their story. Tell us how you interviewed them and where.

 

What is Culture?

Culture is a process of interpreting one’s world and shared behaviors, beliefs, and ways of living. In interviewing, we learn about how people think, behave, and solve problems. First, questions can expose the meaning of certain terms and phrases that we do not know or that we would like to understand [such as teaching] in another culture’s context. Then, we may want to learn about certain symbols that teachers and students use that are different than our own. For instance, the meaning of a country’s flag or use of particular hand signals. Culture consists of patterns of learning style; for example, the deaf & deviant people, which include the gifted (Padden & Humphries, 1988).

Finally, we need to know what they perceive as significant problems and how they intend to solve them. “Culture can be understood as a set of solutions devised by a group of people to meet specific problems posed by situations they face in common” (Van Manen & Barley, 1985, p. 33). When we recognize and tolerate other cultural views, this state is relativism. Qualitative interviewing demands open questioning and listening while one figure out what is important and what not to ask.

In a political sense, culture is “an open-ended, creative dialogue of subcultures, of insiders and outsiders and of diverse factions” (Clifford, 1988, p. 46). Dialogue or language is the interplay and struggle of regional dialects, professional jargons, generic commonplaces. Teaching is cultural intervention (46). Cultural poesis is "the constant reconstruction of selves and others through specific exclusives, conventions, and discursive practices" (Clifford, 1986, p. 24).

Subcultures are ways of life that express certain meanings and values [both implicit and explicit] of a people (Hebdige, 1979/1987, p. 6). They are the expressive forms and rituals of subordinate groups, such as “rockers and punks” (p. 7). [Also referred to as micro cultures by Spradley & McCurdy, 1987.] Subcultures are expressive forms of fundamental tension between powerful and subordinate groups (p. 132)... a form of resistance in which experience, contradictions and objections to ruling ideology are obliquely represented in style (p. 133). Such styles rep "noise" (e.g., punk and teddy boys vs. hippie and skin heads). "They are “meaningful mutations sometimes disfigurement.-- a cycle of resistance and diffusion as seen in clothes, dance, music. (p. 130). Style as bricolage: a science of the concrete; Style as intentional communication a fabricated message or display of codes (e.g., ripped jeans, presents an image of difference).

 

What is Art?

Arranging objects of consumption. Mullen (1998) points out artistic behaviors of differentiating and integrating--are not confined to making objects, but also includes the selection and arrangement of objects for their symbolic significance (p 22). The vast majority of ordinary people define themselves through objects of consumption rather than production. “The careful selection and combination of items” (Csikszenmihalyi & Rochberg-Halton, 1981, 93-94. The meaning of things: Domestic symbols and the self. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Mullen, C. (1998). I’m not hiding it no more: Art experiences in everyday life. In D. Fitzner & M. Rugh (Eds.). Crossroads: The challenge of lifelong learning (pp. 16-31.) Reston, VA: NAEA.

 

Art is a cultural system, asemiotic system of ideas connected to a society. Geertz (1973) believes, "Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun. I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law, but an interpretive one in search of meaning" (p. 5). Interpretation evolves into deeper meanings (Stokrocki, 1983). Mcfee and Degge’s (1980) classic text Art, culture, and environment was used in many universities in cultural studies.

 

Moral beauty. Culture is a moral-aesthetic venture to be judged ultimately by its moral beauty” (p. 240). Moral beauty is “a spontaneous act of generosity preformed with unselfish consciousness and grace (Yi-Fu, 1993, 240). It contains aspects of courage & genuine modesty. Moral beauty flourishes in societies that nurture it; e. g., Buddhism (241). Moral beauty of words “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” (243).

Yi-Fu, Tuan, (1993). Passing strange and wonderful: Aesthetics, nature and culture. New York: Kodanstra International.

 

Art is "making something special." ...a fundamental human proclivity or need... Looked at this way, art, the activity of making the things one cares about special, is fundamental to everyone, and as in traditional societies, deserves to be acknowledged as normal. And normal, socially valuable activities should be encouraged and developed (Dissanayake, 1988, p. 223). She also notes that exploration, play, shaping, and embellishing, formalizing and making order as congruent to what people consider Western art.

Dissanayake, E. (1988) What is art for? Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.

 

What is Education?

Cross-cultural education: Some educators understand culture as "Ways of thinking, ways of believing, and ways of valuing" (Heath, 1983). We come to understand our own culture by trying to understand others (Clifford, 1988, 76). Need to make the familiar, strange. Multicultural Education: Art educators view culture as assimilation, cultural separatism, pluralism, social criticism, cultural understanding (Tomhave, 1992) and intercultural education (Stokrocki, 1989). Monocultural vs. pluralism. [Mason (1988) discusses problems working with multicultural--Hindu and Muslim students in England.]

Sociocultural contextualization. Anthropologists study education in a cultural context : who does what, where did they come from, what their history is, how were they trained [kinship system], how were they selected, what is their learning style, dramatic initiation rites, rites of passage.

 

 

WHAT ARE YOUR MAJOR RESEARCH QUESTIONS?

WHAT IS ART IN THIS CULTURAL CONTEXT? [List these questions and adapt them to your context. This part condenses all the previous questions into important ones.]

What Cultural Context? Name it; e.g. Korean American] What about their Art & Education Attitudes?

What is Art?

What Family Influences?

Early influences?

What Art Form Studied?

What Kind of Art Orientations or Learners?

What Ability to Use Art Criticism as Self-Evaluation?

What did I learn about their Cultural Context?

What did I learn about the Concept of Culture?

Evolving Questions?

 

 

WHAT IS YOUR METHODOLOGY (10)

Include the headings and subheadings, Include complete references

What is Qualitative Interviewing?

Why Interview?

Types of Interviews?

How Is Qualitative Interviewing Different From Other Types of Interviewing?

What is culture?

What are you major research questions?See mine below.

 

 

WHAT IS YOUR PROCEDURE [UNDER ORAL HISTORY]

More than one line or definition]

What in Interpretation?

What kind of participant observer were you? [Full participant, part participant and part observer, or full observer.]

What are three Stages of Qualitative Interview Research or Ethnographic Research?

How will you preplan?

How will you conduct the interview?

What is Triangulation of Evidence and Why must we Triangulate?

What 3 methods or sources did you use to triangulate?

 

WHAT ARE YOUR CONCLUSIONS?

Answer you previous major Research Questions, This part condenses all the previous questions into important ones.]

What Cultural Context? Name it; e.g. Korean American] What about their Art & Education Attitudes?

What is Art?

What Family Influences?

Early influences?

What Art Form Studied?

What Kind of Art Orientations or Learners?

What Ability to Use Art Criticism as Self-Evaluation?

What did I learn about their Cultural Context?

What did I learn about the Concept of Culture?

Evolving Questions?

 

FUTURE IMPLICATIONS OR SUGGESTIONS FOR RESEARCH?

How did you conduct your interview?

Evaluate your Content and Performance [See Oral History]

What Problems did your encounter during the interview or oral history?

How will you improve your questions and analysis of art orientations and artmaking?

What else do you want to know about this culture?

 

Additional Questions for Qualitative Interviews?

What were your early childhood influences in art? (Your parents, relatives, a special teacher)

What is art?

What art experiences did you have in primary school?

When did you first get interested in art?

What experiences did you have in art in secondary school?

What was your professional training in art?

Where and what was your first art teaching position?

What level of subjects did you teach?

How long have you been teaching? At this school?

What degrees do you have? (BA, MA, ED. D)

What art form is your specialty?

Did you get to study aboard? What? Where?

What is your favorite art form? Why?

What is your favorite theme or subject matter?

Who is your favorite artist? Why?

What type of students do you teach? Socioeconomic level?

What problems do you face in your teaching? In your artmaking?

How would you change your work?

You can send me an overview of your curriculum? ∑

How has your work changed in this class? Over the years?

What are your plans for the future?

What else would you like to tell me about your artmaking?

How can I help you to be better in art?

 

References

Clifford, J. (1986). Writing culture: The poetics and politics of ethnography. Berkeley: University. of California.

Clifford, J. (1988). The predicament of culture. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Hebdige, D. (1979/1987). Subculture: The meaning of style. New York: Methuen.

Katalin Zaslavik (2002). Portrait of two adolescent female artists. SRAE Abstracts, p. 23. Paper presented at NAEA Miami, FL. [She compares and contrasts changes made in art making strategies of two students, one from Hungary and one form USA for 2 years. She portrays the dialogue between the girls and their environment. Using in-depth interviews and photo documentation of artworks, and content analysis, she created important autobiographical portraits of adol. artists who use art to construct their identity.]

Padden, C., & Humphries, T. (1988). Deaf in America: Voices from a culture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.]

Rubin, H., & Rubin, I. (1995). Qualitative interviewing: The art of hearing data. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Spradley, J. P. (1979). The ethnographic interview. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Spradley, J. & McCurdy, D. (1987). Conformity and conflict: Readings in cultural anthropology, (6th edition.). Boston: Little, Brown and Co. (p. 21).

Stokrocki, M. (1997). Qualitative forms of research methods." In S. LaPierre and E. Zimmerman (Eds.). Research methods and methodologies for art education (pp. 33-55). Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.

Stokrocki, M. (1983). "Interpretation theory: Its meaning & application to art education," Canadian Review of Art Education Research, 10, 13-25.

 

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