Deconstructing methodology: Interrogating the interviewing process

Year: 2005

Author: Petrie, Kirsten

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper explores some of the methodological choices, consequences and conundrums that arose from a critical, qualitative study of primary teacher education students' understandings of physical education. The study employed semi-structured interviewing as its primary methodological approach. However, tensions soon emerged with respect to both the process and the practice of using semi-structured interviewing, particularly in relation to the study's wider critical research aims. This paper first illuminates some of the process challenges inherent in the semi-structured interview process such as: developing an interview schedule that moves beyond the researcher's assumptions, the need to be present and meta-present in real time aural/oral interviews, and the idea that empathetic neutrality is a possibility or even desirable. Secondly, this paper deconstructs some of the epistemological assumptions underlying the use of semi-structured interviews, particularly those that are reflected in qualitative methods texts. These include the supposed straightforwardness and neutrality of the methodological process and the disparity between the literature and the practical realities of the research method. In light of both, the paper explores how alternative methodologies might better support future critical research of this kind.