Category Archives: Interviewing

Quiet Crow of Triumph

percent-226357_640My examiners want 2000 words of data analysis for this project? Then I’m delighted to grant that wish! I’ve written EXACTLY 2000 words for this part of my project! It took all day, but it’s there, in black and white Word document.  Now I can permit myself to walk away from the project for the rest of the day.  (Well, night.  Or to be honest, the last two hours of Saturday evening.)

I have a separate page for my project updates – I’ve posted a couple of technical queries there (about privacy, and interview transcripts), but I can still continue with writing other parts of the project tomorrow.  I think this certificated course has cured me of ever wanting another qualification, but it WILL be done, and I SHALL have learned a lot from it.

(Cringe) I sound like a ClassicFM announcer!

period-481478_640I lost a bit of speed on my PGCert project during my husband’s birthday week – it was a “big” birthday and was celebrated accordingly.  With guests staying, I didn’t even attempt to do any project work.

Last weekend, therefore, I was resolved to push ahead.  On Friday evening, I transcribed my conversations with ‘Interviewee A’ and ‘Interviewee B’, so that I would only have one more to transcribe after the third interview.  (Rather alarmingly, I sound like a Classic FM announcer – this came as a bit of a shock!  Not that I don’t like listening to them, but I had no idea that my accent and tone might sound similar.  Gulp.)  However, family life and unexpected calamities got in the way for the rest of the weekend, so I haven’t done any more writing for the final report.

However,  I attempted a quick summary of some of the issues that arose, since I shall need to incorporate them into my report at some stage soon.  (Another 421 words – pathetic, considering the lengths I sometimes write!)  I won’t go into too much detail in this posting, however; my thoughts need to be refined and interpolated into the writing I’ve already done, so it would be inappropriate to write at length here.  Furthermore, I hadn’t yet done the third and last interview, which will also need transcribing and analysing.

  • My first two interviewees’ comments often reflected their status as part-time, mature distance-learners.
  • Sometimes, learners realise that their difficulties are actually connected with a previously undiagnosed problem, such as dyslexia.
  • The help of library staff is much appreciated.
  • Being able to find instructional tools/apps easily comes through as a common thread; as well as providing a range of tools, the library needs to ensure that they can easily be found.
  • Another issue raised, was that of interactive learning tools for learning how to do referencing; this ties in with questionnaire responses asking for more details about  learning how to use the online bibliographic referencing tools that are now freely available.

Although five questionnaire respondents expressed willingness to be interviewed, I only actually had three responses when I followed up the willing volunteers, so I decided to accept that there will only be three interviews.  Time is pressing, and I need to start writing up all the various components required in my portfolio!

Completing and Commencing Projects

hurry-2119711_640June 2017 sees me working towards completion of my PGCert project (Postgraduate Certificate, Learning and Teaching in Higher Arts Education), and towards the commencement of my AHRC-funded networking project, Claimed from Stationers’ Hall.

I’m very prone to starting one thing before I’ve fully finished another.  My first attempt at a PhD foundered because I rushed into a postgraduate librarianship diploma course when I should have allowed at least a year for writing up my doctoral thesis.  (And look where that got me.  There’s no kudos in a Ph without a D, none whatsoever.)  I eventually started and actually completed a different PhD a quarter of a century later.

This time, although I’m setting things in place for the postdoctoral project, I’m hopefully going to have the PGCert written and submitted before the postdoc network kicks off.

The PGCert Project

target-418917_640For long enough, I’ve been focused first on getting my practice-based project research proposal written and accepted, and then getting it through the ethical approval process.  Between those two milestones, I devised my project questionnaire and two ‘interventions’ – experimental mini online tutorials that I would share with my chosen project cohort, asking them targeted questions to elicit their reactions to my efforts.

Finally, I was able to get the project under way.  I shared the questionnaire several times.  I set a deadline of the end of May, to allow myself time to evaluate the questionnaire responses.  Finally this week, with the deadline past, I was able to start my analysis.  I had 18 sets of responses, and decided that would do.

Some of my questions were multiple choice (eg, Did this help? Yes or no.)  Others offered the opportunity to give free-text answers.  When it came to analysis, the multiple choice questions were easily turned into pie charts, whilst the free-text ones lent themselves to textual analysis.  Having sorted the answers into rough categories, I even managed to make some more pie charts.  (My study was more like a pie-shop this morning!)

Next steps

  • Write something about my findings
  • Arrange interviews with the survey respondents who expressed willingness to help
  • Borrow a recording device for these interviews!
  • Transcribe the interviews – luckily they’re only intended to be five minutes long, and I only have five possible interviewees,  not all of whom might be available when it comes to fixing up appointments.

Towards completion

I’ve been  studying the list of components for my ultimate submission, to ensure I don’t miss anything.  This thing should have been submitted months ago, but there was a blip in my studies last autumn, so I currently have an extension, with the end of July as the final submission date – and the end of June as my preferred date if I can pull it all together in that time! According to the Project (PG Cert) Module Assessment Pack 2016-17*, my e-Portfolio requires various clearly defined components.  Underlined text is quoted from the assessment pack document:-

  • Literature review (1500 words)
  • Delivery mechanisms and learning environments, ie the educational resources (aka interventions) that I have provided for my learners (1000 words).  This includes:-
  • (a) lesson plans and theoretical accounts.  I have no lesson plans, because my interventions are online mini-tutorials for use at the point of need – but I can certainly provide an account of why I chose the interventions that I did, including my earlier analysis of last year’s library survey.
  • (b) resources (handouts, digital resources, learning activities).  I can provide the links to the interventions themselves.
  • (c) Learning Technologies. If the links constitute ‘digital resources, learning activities‘, then I’m somewhat confused about what the ‘learning technologies‘ are, but I can write about the experience of compiling the interventions and other related technical considerations.
  • Evaluative tools (no associated word count).  This is for documentation of my ‘research mechanisms‘ eg ‘questionnaires, focus group questions, student feedback tools, assessment tools‘.  I’ve got my email dated 8 May 2017 with the project outline, and my questionnaire and my interview questions to include here.  [DONE]  Also, presumably, the interview transcripts, which will be quite a lot of words.  What a good thing there’s no word count!  I have closed the questionnaire so that no-one else can answer it, but this renders the link inaccessible to my examiners, so I shall put the text of the questionnaire here instead.
  • Analysis of data (2000 words). This falls into two clear components:-
  • (a) Presentation of results (tables, graphs, narrative, depending on nature of results)
  • (b) Discussion of results – critical reflection, comparison with prior expectations, and I must synthesise the evidence gathered towards identifying what [I] have learned from the analysis of this data‘.
  • Project conclusions and recommendations (2000 words):-
  • How successful were the ‘learning experiences‘ that I designed?
  • Did I deliver ‘learning experiences in line with [my] aims‘?
  • Did I ‘support learners in their development‘?
  • Did I ‘assess and provide feedback to learners to aid their development‘?  Given that my learning experiences weren’t in a classroom or assessed setting, I’ll probably be able to say what I need to say in answer to the earlier questions.
  • And did I ‘Engage in a meaningful development of [my] knowledge and skills in research, effective pedagogy, scholarship and the evaluation of [my] professional practice‘?
  • I also need to include recommendations for my peers, line managers and the sector, arising out of my conclusions.
  • There is more.  I need to submit a Journal Summary (1000 words) with PDPdetailing where my learning development has changed with regards to ‘Pedagogy, Research, Scholarship [and] Professional Practice‘ – and I need to refer to key journal entries in that regard.  The PDP shouldn’t go past 3 A4 pages.
  • And a Bibliography
  • And complete the UKPSF Checklist

If I were to write four days a week, then I would have sixteen writing days until the end of June, requiring 625 words per day.  This may be unrealistic, given that I still have to do and transcribe the interviews, and much of the above requirements necessitate gathering material together as well as writing it up.  On the other hand, it’s something to aim for, and would mean that by the start of July, I’d know what was still outstanding.

Gary West: Personal Chair in Ethnology


Quite apart from my getting a better understanding of what ethnology actually means to an ethnologist, there were some salutary reminders about interviewing subjects, reliable or unreliable witnesses, and the possibility that conflicting reports from the same person might stem from their own expectations of what the interviewer wanted to hear, as much as from whether they were reliving a moment – or reflecting back upon something from a more recent vantage point. (As, for example, a WW1 solder reflecting back about the Christmas Day truce, on one occasion talking about exchanging gifts, and on another disapproving of the fraternization.)  Gary spoke of further nuances, but this was the gist of his example.

Since I’ll be interviewing a few of my peers for my project, it was interesting to hear a professional from another discipline talking about an enormous batch of interviews made by a folksinger and transcribed over many decades, and how he, Gary, was now involved in publishing them and finding other ways to bring them to life – for example, in drama and song.

No time to write further … perhaps later!