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Research Design

Interviews with Children

When one hears the word interview, what comes to mind? Interview is a meeting at which information is obtained (as by a reporter, television commentator, or pollster) from a person. It is also when people talk to each other in order to ask questions and get information. Interviews can be held by anyone but how would we interview children? What questions and approach are important while interviewing these young age groups?

In the article “Exploring Meanings with Interviews with Children”, Westcott and Littleton describe the concept of interviewing. It is a research method widely used in psychological and educational research. It is important to realize how research impacts upon children in wider society and to recognize our responsibility as researchers not to theorize incompetent children.

One type of interview discussed in the article is the investigative interviewing which came from an experimental paradigm and is typically from a cognitive-psychology approach. The problem that comes up from this type of paradigm in research is that the child is construed or seen as a passive (powerless) participant and their contributions are often times overlooked. The only important factor that is of great concern to researchers is the information they can get from the child. Some use appropriate or inappropriate use of different questioning techniques such as open-ended, closed, repeated and so forth.

Researchers should not only focus on the outcome of the interview but rather the moment-to-moment process. Children should be given the opportunity to explain their responses in interview situations, and also take the initiative in helping to create a meaningful context with the interviewer. The interview task must have an appropriate context for the children. In doing so, children would become active participants in the interview process and their roles “teller and told” would be shared and jointly created.

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