Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Pilot study

I didn't have a pilot case study, but I did practise interviewing someone about her experience of using consultants in a public sector environment. I recorded it to check I could hack the technology. I also piloted my interview questions.
Pilot participants
Three pilot participants who had worked in a managerial capacity were recruited through personal contacts. Two were fellow students and the third was a personal contact. The pilot participants were:
  • Eddie: an ex hospital administrator
  • Robert: a manager of a vineyard
  • Bert: an IT technical consultant
These gave as far as possible in a small sample a spread of technical and managerial relationships as well as providing the change to assess engagement in various situations, though the aim of the pilot interviewees was only to test the flow of the questions, and the length of the interview.
Pilot interview locations
Two interviewees were interviewed in meeting rooms in the OU where they worked, and one in his home. The meeting rooms were best n terms of recording quality and comfort because participants and researcher were on home ground, which helped in building rapport.
Assessment of the pilot interview process
The participants confirmed the questions helped/encouraged them to talk. The researcher found the questions elicited relevant information about their experiences with other workers with whom they may have engaged. The timing was about right at just under 60 minutes except for the least talkative interviewee Bert, where the interview was only around 20 minutes.
Issues identified by the researcher about the interview process
  1. The interview schedule was designed to give a “fairly defined” though not rigid /prescriptive structure to help participants to continue talking. A review of the interviews suggested the structure did encourage in-depth and rich description.
  2. There is danger of varying the questions wording each time – losing precise wording – does that matter? Or is it better to keep rapport by varying the wording to respond to what the interviewee has said?
  3. Asking leading questions versus confirming questions
  4. It is tempting to move to the next question when the interviewee is not very talkative.
  5. The breakup of the four sections helped the interviewer. For participants those sections also formed an agenda for the discussions so that they knew what to expect.

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