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Evaluate semi-structured, focus group and narrative interviews.

Semi-structured Focus group Narrative interview

This technique is used to collect qualitative data by setting up a situation (the interview) that allows a respondent the time and scope to talk about their opinions on a particular subject. The focus of the interview is decided by the researcher or research committee and there may be areas the researcher is interested in exploring.

The objective is to understand the respondent's point of view rather than make generalizations about behavior. It uses open-ended questions, some suggested by the researcher (Tell me about) and some arise naturally during the interview (You said a moment agocan you tell me more?).

The researcher tries to build a rapport with the respondent and the interview is like a conversation. Questions are asked when the interviewer feels it is appropriate to ask them. They may be prepared questions or questions that occur to the researcher during the interview. The wording of questions will not necessarily be the same for all respondents. This adds to the subjectivity and uniqueness of the interview.

A structured interview (also known as a standardized interview or a researcheradministered survey) is a quantitative research method commonly employed in survey research. The aim of this approach is to ensure that each interview is presented with exactly the same questions in the same order. This ensures that answers can be reliably aggregated and that comparisons can be made with confidence between sample subgroups or between different survey periods.

Structured interviews are a means of collecting data for a statistical survey.

In this case, the data is collected by an interviewer rather than through a selfadministered questionnaire.
Interviewers read the questions exactly as they appear on the survey questionnaire. The choice of answers to the questions is often fixed (closeended) in advance, though open-ended questions can also be included within a structured interview.

An interview guide is also used, but additional questions can be asked. Corbetta (2003) explains semi-structured interviews as follows: 1. The order in which the various topics are dealt with and the wording of the questions are left to the interviewers discretion. 2. Within each topic, the interviewer is free to conduct the conversation as he thinks fit, to ask the questions he deems appropriate in the words he considers best, to give explanation and ask for clarification if the answer is not clear, to prompt the respondent to elucidate further if necessary, and to establish his own style of conversation.

Positive rapport between interviewer and interviewee. Very simple, efficient and practical way of getting data about things that cant be easily observed (i.e. feelings and emotions). Why is it important to have a positive rapport with your interviewee?

High Validity. People are able to talk about something in detail and depth. The meanings behind an action may be revealed as the interviewee is able to speak for themselves with little direction from interviewer. What is an example of this?

Complex questions and issues can be discussed/clarified. The interviewer can probe areas suggested by the respondent's answers, picking-up information that had either not occurred to the interviewer or of which the interviewer had no prior knowledge. (i.e. in your last response, you spoke about parental pressure that may cause high levels of stress in I.B. seniors, can you expound on that?) Hence, with this type of interview the interviewers are able to ask more detailed questions of respondents situations and not adhere only to the interview guide. In addition, the researcher can explain or rephrase the questions if respondents are unclear about the questions.

Semi-structured interviews are very subjectively dependent on the interviewers personal skill and experience. (the ability to think of questions during the interview, for example). How is this a limitation?

The inexperienced interviewer may not be able to ask prompt questions. If this is the case, some relevant data may not be gathered. In addition, inexperienced interviewers may not probe into a situation. For example, if the respondents offers an answer that may lead to new ideas about a phenomena , the interviewer needs to probe and find out the reasons and ask for explanations.

Interviewer may give out subconscious signals / cues that guide respondent to give answers expected by interviewer. How is this a limitation? What are examples of this?

Interviews are not very reliable - difficult to exactly repeat a semi-structured interview. Respondents may be asked different questions (non-standardized). Samples tend to be small.

Personal nature of interview may make findings difficult to generalize (respondents may effectively be answering different questions).

The Hawthorne Effect: how can this effect interviews?

Focus groups are a qualitative data collection method effective in helping researchers learn the social norms of a community or subgroup, as well as the range of perspectives that exist within that community or subgroup. Focus groups are often used to determine what service or product a particular population wants or would like to have, such as in marketing studies. They are also used to better understand the uniqueness of specific subgroups.

Because focus groups seek to illuminate group opinion, the method is especially well suited for socio-behavioral research that will be used to develop and measure services that meet the needs of a specific population.

They are focused in two ways. First, the persons being interviewed are similar in some way (e.g., limited resource family members as a group, family service providers as a group, local officials as a group). Second, the purpose of the interview is to gather information about a particular topic guided by a set of focused questions. Participants hear and interact with each other and the leader, which yields different information than if people were interviewed individually. How can this be beneficial?

The purpose of focus groups is to develop a broad and deep understanding rather than a quantitative summary. Focus groups are a highly effective method for listening to participants. This method truly adds the human aspect to research. Focus groups might be used to develop ideas that can be tested through interviews, surveys, or other research techniques. Important note: Focus groups by themselves are usually never used as a stand alone research method. It is usually used in conjunction with other methods (triangulation).

1. The Ability Of Group Participants To Interact With Each Other When participate are stimulated to discuss, the group dynamics can generate new thinking about a topic which will result in a much more indepth discussion. When would this be beneficial?

2. Release of inhibition by participants. A well moderated group encourages full and open expression of perceptions, experiences, attitudes, etc. 3. Flexibility. A focus group is typically more flexible than an individual interview (Wells, 1974). The moderator "works from a list of topicslistening, thinking, probing, exploring, framing hunches and ideas" (p. 134).

4. Handling contingencies. A focus group is amenable to exploring linkages which go untouched in a statistical survey (Wells, 1974, p. 134). In other words, it is possible to explore avenues of importance which may arise other than those listed on a questionnaire.

4. Handling contingencies. A focus group is amenable to exploring linkages which go untouched in a statistical survey (Wells, 1974, p. 134). In other words, it is possible to explore avenues of importance which may arise other than those listed on a questionnaire.

5. Time. Eliciting responses from eight to twelve respondents in a focus group lasting one to two hours is more "time effective" than interviewing the same number individually. 6. Provision of basic exploratory information. When little is known in advance of investigation, the focus group may provide a basis for formulating research questions and hypothesis (Zeller, 1987). Focus groups are great ways to begin a between method triangularly study.

The focus group method and data do, however, have some disadvantages: 1. Cost. A series of four focus groups, for example, could easily cost more than $2,500, depending on moderator fee, facility rental, recording and transcribing, data analysis and interpretation, and participant incentives. 2. Subjects' conformity. Social desirability, or respondents' motivation to provide socially acceptable responses to conform to group norms is somewhat greater in a group than in the anonymous process of survey questionnaire completion (Crowne & Marlow, 1964).

The focus group method and data do, however, have some disadvantages: 3. Biased results. An analyst should not generalize from focus group results to the larger population from which the respondents were a sample, and it is well to remember that the respondents are volunteers who may be more extroverted, outgoing, and sociable than the "average individual. In other words, those who agree to be apart of the focus group may be a misrepresentation of the larger population. How so?

The focus group method and data do, however, have some disadvantages: 3. Biased results. An analyst should not generalize from focus group results to the larger population from which the respondents were a sample, and it is well to remember that the respondents are volunteers who may be more extroverted, outgoing, and sociable than the "average individual. In other words, those who agree to be apart of the focus group may be a misrepresentation of the larger population. How so?

The focus group method and data do, however, have some disadvantages: 1. Cost. A series of four focus groups, for example, could easily cost more than $2,500, depending on moderator fee, facility rental, recording and transcribing, data analysis and interpretation, and participant incentives. 2. Subjects' conformity. Social desirability, or respondents' motivation to provide socially acceptable responses to conform to group norms is somewhat greater in a group than in the anonymous process of survey questionnaire completion (Crowne & Marlow, 1964).

The Narrative Interview envisions a setting which encourages and stimulates interviewees to tell a story about some significant event in the informants' life. Its basic idea is to reconstruct social events from the perspective of informants as direct as possible. In the NI the interviewee is called the `informant'.

Conceptually the idea of narrative interviewing is motivated by a critique of the questionresponse-schema of most interviews. In the question-response mode the interviewer is imposing structures in a threefold sense: (a) by selecting the theme and the topics, (b) by ordering the questions and (c) by wording the questions in his or her language. Such data is said to reveal more about the interviewer's own relevance structures than about the issues under investigating. One could say: who asks the questions controls the situation.

Conceptually the idea of narrative interviewing is motivated by a critique of the questionresponse-schema of most interviews. In the question-response mode the interviewer is imposing structures in a threefold sense: (a) by selecting the theme and the topics, (b) by ordering the questions and (c) by wording the questions in his or her language. Such data is said to reveal more about the interviewer's own relevance structures than about the issues under investigating. One could say: who asks the questions controls the situation.

Conceptually the idea of narrative interviewing is motivated by a critique of the questionresponse-schema of most interviews. In the question-response mode the interviewer is imposing structures in a threefold sense: (a) by selecting the theme and the topics, (b) by ordering the questions and (c) by wording the questions in his or her language. Such data is said to reveal more about the interviewer's own relevance structures than about the issues under investigating. One could say: who asks the questions controls the situation.

To elicit a less imposed and therefore more credible account of the informant's perspective the influence of the interviewer should be minimal, and the setting should be arranged to achieve this minimizing of interviewer influence.

The NI goes further than any other qualitative method in avoiding restructuring in the interview; it is the most consequent attempt to go beyond the questions-response-type interview.

The NI uses a specific type of everyday communicative interaction, namely story telling and listening, to reach this objective. The rules of engagement restrict the interviewer to avoid restructuring of events/problems as far as possible.

To avoid restructuring, the question-responseschema is in favor of the narration schema. It is postulated that the perspective of the interviewee is best revealed in stories where the informant is using his or her own spontaneous language in the narration of events.

However, it would be naive to claim, that the narration is without structure. A narrative is formally structured; narration follows a selfgenerating schema.

The primary advantage of in-depth interviews is that they provide much more detailed information than what is available through other data collection methods, such as surveys. Sticking with the aim of qualitative research, this research methods gives the researcher an indepth view of a personal account of a phenomenon.

Perhaps for this reason, the narrative interview comes into its own when considering a quality improvement initiative from the perspective of subgroups (such as the socially excluded, the seriously ill, and cultural bound syndromes).

Narrative interviews are great at explaining complexity of individual experience because it shows how humans construct meaning in their lives. This also helps the researcher to understand how humans interpret situations in their lives.

The credibility of the interview is solely based on the narrative account of the informant. How can this be a limitation? Biased results. An analyst should not generalize from the personal account of one informant to the larger population from which the respondents were a sample, and again, it is well to remember that the respondents are volunteers who may be more extroverted, outgoing, and sociable than the "average individual from your population.

Can be time-intensive: Narrative Interviews can be a time-intensive evaluation activity because of the time it takes to conduct the interviews, transcribe them, and analyze the results. Often time, 3-5 Narratives are used to develop a understanding of the specific phenomenon. This process, from start to finish, can be very time consuming.

The way the interviewer initiates the interview codetermines the quality of the narration. This puts too much focus on the beginning of the interview. The narration is likely to be an outcome of the way the interviewer comport him or herself. The initiation phase is difficult to standardize and relies totally on the social skills of the interviewer. This sensitivity of the method to the beginning may be a cause of stress for the interviewer and might make it difficult to apply the NI in a research project with several interviewers (Hopf, 1978).

Discuss considerations involved before, during and after an interview

Kvale (1996) defines the research interview as an interview whose purpose is to obtain descriptions of the life world of the interviewee with respect to interpreting the meaning of the described phenomena.

The interview process, start to finish, is a very specific time consuming process. This must be discussed in detail for this objective.

Design and Development of Interview Studies for Evaluation While much of the value of qualitative interviewing lies in its flexibility and openness, it remains extremely important for the evaluation planning team to think through the process and provide the basic structure and framework which will make the study useful and worthwhile. Kvale (1996) describes in detail seven stages in designing and implementing an interview study, which we will summarize.

Design and Development of Interview Studies for Evaluation (Tom Danced Inside The Audience Very Ridiculously ) 1. Thematizing 2. Designing 3. Interviewing 4. Transcribing 5. Analyzing 6. Verifying 7. Reporting

Before even thinking about particular methods or interview formats, the evaluation team needs to be clear on the purpose of the study and the topic to be investigated. The questions of "why" and "what" need to be answered before the question of "how" can be answered. This is as important in a qualitative evaluation study as in a quantitative one. Why is this particularly important in qualitative research (this should be discussed in your response).

The overall design for the study, including the later stages of analyzing and reporting, should be planned before the interviewing begins. For example, if there are no funds for transcribing or analyzing interviews, it may be wise to use a more structured format that will be easier to code later. Why is this important to do this before you begin the interview? (Discuss this in your response)

With Interviewing, the interviewer is the instrument in this type of evaluation (Guba & Lincoln, 1981, as cited in Patton, 1987). The "instrument" can be affected by factors like fatigue, personality, and knowledge, as well as levels of skill, training, and experience. What are examples of these factors effecting the interview? (Discuss this in your response)

Patton (1987) points out that any face-to-face interview is also an observation. The skilled interviewer is sensitive to nonverbal messages, effects of the setting on the interview, and nuances of the relationship. While these subjective factors are sometimes considered threats to validity, they can also be strengths because the skilled interviewer can use flexibility and insight to ensure an in-depth, detailed understanding of the participant's experience. (Discuss differences between skilled interviewers and novice interviewers in your response).

This important step prepares the material from the interview for analysis. Both Kvale (1996) and Patton (1990) provide detailed practical suggestions for this process, ranging from ensuring that your tape recorder has good batteries to developing a sensitivity to the linguistic differences between oral speech and written text.(Discuss scenarios that provide justification for this consideration).

Data analysis is an issue that should be considered very early in the process of designing a study. Qualitative interviews and their transcripts produce a large volume of material which must be condensed, categorized or otherwise interpreted and made meaningful, and this may turn out to be one of the most costly and time-consuming aspects of the evaluation.

If time and resources are limited, you may wish to use more standardized interview formats which are easier to code and interpret. (Discuss the importance of accurately analyzing this data).

The most appropriate method of analysis for any given study will depend on the purpose of your evaluation and the nature of the material, as well as the time and resources available for this part of the process. Some methods attempt to be more objective, while others depend more heavily on subjective judgments and insights of the researcher (which is usually the case for qualitative interviews). Computer software programs are available that can assist in categorizing interview statements or counting key words, which may allow some forms of quantitative analysis.

In traditional research terms, this means determining reliability (how consistent the findings are), validity (whether the study really investigates what you intended to investigate), and generalizability (whether the findings apply to anyone outside of this particular program). In qualititative studies, one important way of verifying findings or establishing validity is to actually take transcripts or analyzed results back to some of the interview participants, and ask them if this is really what they meant.

As previously mentioned, Guba and Lincoln (1989) discuss the concepts of confirmability, dependability, credibility and transferability as alternative ways of ensuring quality of data in qualitative evaluations.

If the evaluation report is to effectively communicate findings, it must: a) be in a form that meets some accepted scientific criteria, b) meet ethical standards such as confidentiality and respect, and c) be readable and usable for its intended audiences. In some cases, different reports may be needed for different audiences.

An appropriate balance needs to be found between including endless quotations that will bore the reader and just quoting a few entertaining stories that happened to appeal to the researcher. Why is it important to adequately and accurately report your findings? (Discuss this in your response).

The very personal, conversational nature of interview situations highlight many of the basic ethical issues of any research or evaluation method (Patton, 1990). Among these issues are:
1) Confidentiality 2) Informed 3) Risk assessment 4) Promises and reciprocity 5) Interviewer mental health

1) Confidentiality - Because respondents may be sharing very personal information, it is important to honestly assess how much confidentiality you can promise. Some kinds of disclosures (such as child abuse or threats to the safety of self or others) must be reported, and respondents need to know this from the start. Also consider how the confidentiality of individuals will be preserved when the data are analyzed and reported. Related issues include who has access to the data and who "owns" it.

2) Informed consent - Most studies, including program evaluations, are covered by some kind of human subjects review process. This will usually require that respondents sign a permission form agreeing to participate, after being informed of potential risks and benefits. If children are involved, a parent or legal guardian must provide this permission.

3) Risk assessment - It is important to consider all potential risks and include them in the informed consent process. Even though "just talking" may seem inherently harmless, people who participate in openended interviews may experience psychological stress, legal or political repercussions, or ostracism by peers or staff who believe that the participant has said unflattering things about them to the interviewer.

4) Promises and reciprocity - The issue here is what interview participants get in return for sharing their time and insights with you. Will they or their communities benefit in some way from the results of the study? If promises are made (such as copies of reports or monetary payments), those promises should always be kept.

5) Interviewer mental health - Interviewing experiences can be intense interpersonal experiences. Just as participants may experience psychological stress from disclosing more than intended or being reminded of painful experiences, interviewers may be overwhelmed by the sensitive nature of what is seen or heard, especially in home- or field-based interviews. Some form of debriefing after the interview may be necessary. Interviewers should always know who to go to if they need advice or consultation on handling practical or emotional issues that arise from an interview.

Explain how researchers use inductive content analysis (thematic analysis) on interview transcripts.

Content analysis is a method that may be used with either qualitative or quantitative data and in an inductive or deductive way. In general, deductive research is theorytesting and inductive research is theorygenerating. Often people link deductive research with quantitative experiments or surveys, and inductive research with qualitative interviews or ethnographic work.

Deductive content analysis is used when the structure of analysis is operationalized on the basis of previous knowledge and the purpose of the study is theory testing (Kynga s & Vanhanen 1999). An approach based on inductive data moves from the specific to the general, so that particular instances are observed and then combined into a larger whole or general statement (Chinn & Kramer 1999).

The primary purpose of the inductive approach is to allow research findings to emerge from the frequent, dominant or significant themes inherent in raw data, without the restraints imposed by structured methodologies. Key themes are often obscured, reframed or left invisible because of the preconceptions in the data collection and data analysis procedures imposed by deductive data analysis such as those used in experimental and hypothesis testing research.

The process of inductive coding Inductive coding begins with close readings of text and consideration of the multiple meanings that are inherent in the text. The researcher then identifies text segments that contain meaning units, and creates a label for a new category into which the text segment is assigned. Additional text segments are added to the category where they are relevant.

The process of inductive coding At some stage the researcher may develop an initial description of meaning of category and by the writing of a memo about the category (e.g., associations, links and implications). The category may also be linked to other categories in various relationships such as: a network, a hierarchy of categories or a causal sequence.

The following procedures are used for inductive analysis of qualitative data. 1. Preparation of raw data files (data cleaning) Format the raw data files in a common format (e.g., font size, margins, questions or interviewer comments highlighted) if required. Print and/or make a backup of each raw data file (e.g., each interview).

2. Close reading of text Once text has been prepared, the raw text should be read in detail so the researcher is familiar with the content and gains an understanding of the "themes" and details in the text.

3. Creation of categories The research identifies and defines categories or themes. The upper level or more general categories are likely to be derived from the research aims. The lower level or specific categories will be derived from multiple readings of the raw data (in vivo coding).

4. Overlapping coding and uncoded text Among the commonly assumed rules that underlie qualitative coding, two are different from the rules typically used in quantitative coding: (a) one segment of text may be coded into more than one category. (b) a considerable amount of the text may not be assigned to any category, as much of the text may not be relevant to the research objectives.

5. Continuing revision and refinement of category system Within each category, search for subtopics, including contradictory points of view and new insights. (This is why verifying with respondents is important) Select appropriate quotes that convey the core theme or essence of a category. The categories may be combined or linked under a superordinate category when the meanings are similar.

The intended outcome of the process is to create three to eight summary categories, which in the coders view captures the key aspects of the themes in the raw data and which are assessed to be the most important themes given the research objectives. Inductive coding which finishes up with more than about eight major themes can be seen as incomplete. In this case some of the categories may need combining or the coder has not made the hard decisions about which themes or categories are most important.