Interrogating interview approaches: Delving for teacher meaning-making on their learning

Year: 2016

Author: Patterson, Carmel, MacQueen, Suzanne

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Elucidating interview approaches and techniques used with participants is a significant issue for education research because of the deeper meaning sought on learning to teach. The process of interviewing becomes complicated with participants who, albeit in an attempt to be helpful, present expected answers to predicted interview prompts. In this paper we focus on the interview methods employed and researcher considerations necessary for garnering meaning-making in two Australian studies. The first study used a three-interview process in order to garner teacher meaning-making on the development of their expertise. Four narrative interviews over four years were employed in the second study with pre-service teachers from non-traditional backgrounds as they sought to establish professional careers. We show that the gathering of meaning-making requires a structured and responsive approach in the planning of questions and prompting during interviews. Deliberations through the narrative oral history interview and a phenomenological lifeworld interview in the first study focus on encouraging imaginative variation in individual meaning-making whilst eliciting understandings of shared social phenomena. Narrative interviewing in the second longitudinal study considers issues around participant objectivation by the researcher, and the need for adaptive interview schedules which builds on pre-service teacher meaning-making over four years. Delving for deeper meaning requires considering what teachers bring as interviewees, and making distinctions in approaches through prompting questions and responses. The paper argues that interrogating the interview prompts and approaches utilised in the two studies explicates the methods and considerations required to access teacher meaning-making of their learning. We suggest that enacting interviews with teachers, including narrative inquiry and phenomenological inquiry approaches, enables researchers to address the issues considered and presents possibilities for using similar approaches within education research.