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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Putting the Folio together

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The address for the Researchit blog

Assignment 3: Putting the Folio together

Thanks everyone for some great discussion sessions during the last week of Term 3.  They really helped to make sure everyone knows what is going on. As well as conducting your research and possibly commencing writing your report outcome, you should be well underway putting together your Folio. 

Here are the guidelines for the Folio again:

  • 10 pages in length
  • The 10 pages of the Folio should be something like this:
  1. Pages 1 and 2: Your Proposal written as a 2 page statement of what you have done in terms of * your  topic *focus questions *why you chose the area of research * the details of the capabilities you have chosen * what primary research you have conducted (interviews/surveys) *the ethics involved in the research.
  2. Page 3: Your timeline clearly showing what you have done and when.
  3. Page 4-6: The key secondary sources you have used - a SnagIt 8  screen capture of the website or  article (not too big a capture image) with an explanation (annotation) of what focus questions it helped answer for you and how useful it was - include some of the most useful information from the source.  You may wish to also annotate in reference to bias/limitations of the source if you see as relevant.
  4. Page 7-8: The primary research you conducted.
  • If you did an interview, put in the questions asked, who you interviewed, how long, where etc, discuss how useful the interview was in addressing the focus questions.
  • If you did a survey, put in the questions and what type of response was asked, how many surveys were conducted, how did you decide your sample, how did you get your surveys completed, what focus questions were answered in the survey and how useful was the survey.   
  • You may insert a screen capture of your survey.
     5.  Pages 9-10: The analysis sheets for your secondary and primary sources (as per handout on the Moodle).

At this stage it would be good to look at the examples of Folios provided by the SACE Board.

* Bone Marrow Folio: example withour SACE Board comments
* Moped Folio: A grade example with with SACE Board comments
* Ned Kelly Folio: example with SACE Board comments
* Grandma Folio: A+ example
* Football boots: B- example
* Motorbike: C+ example

*** Note that these examples do not necessarily follow my suggested 10 page structure outlined above.  I have just put that together to help you organise the Folio and you are welcome to follow other examples if you wish. ***

Good luck with this work everyone.  This is assignment 3 of the Research Preparation class.

The interview

The type of interview you will be doing for the research Project is called a semi-structured interview. Such an interview is the best to get specific information and a range of views. They are the type of interview most commonly used when gaining qualitative research. The semi-structured interview invites responses to a set of guided questions but also allows for interaction and follow-up discussion. Although mostly open-ended questions, several closed factual questions may be involved. Finally, with such an interview the interaction between interviewer and interviewee is much more relaxed than with a structured interview. Here is a useful YouTube video about semi-structured interviews.


* Make sure you understand the purpose of the interview so that the appropriate questions are asked.
* Understand what information is necessary to complete the investigation?
* Do detailed research about the topic so you know what questions to ask.
* Choose the person to be interviewed carefully to ensure they are a creditable source of information.
* Prepare your equipment, such as cue cards, tape-recorder with microphone, video etc.
* Call and make the appointment for the interview and tell your interviewee about the topic of your investigation.
* Ask if they would like the questions to be sent ahead and ask permission to use tape-recorders or video.


* Choose a quiet location free from interruptions.
* Begin by explaining the purpose of the interview.
* Listen very carefully to what the person is saying(Often their responses will give you an idea for a follow-up question that you hadn't planned to ask).
* Don't be afraid to ask for more depth or greater explanation.
* Try and show your interest by your body language.
* Don't concentrate on your notes all the time.
* Towards the end of the interview you can ask the person if there is anything that you have omitted or anything they would like to add.
* Let them know the interview is drawing to a close by saying 'One last question'.

Remember the success of your interview depends on your research, choice of interviewee, your genuine interest in what they have to say, and your own skills in thinking on your feet.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Developing interview questions

Contact me at
The address for the Researchit blog
Course Calendar for your time management

Preparing the questions to ask.

Finally it is time to get our interview questions together. The following ideas will help you determine the type of questions to ask and how to arrange them to find out what you require for your research project.

Before you start to design your interview questions and process, clearly articulate to yourself what need is to be addressed using the information to be gathered by the interviews. This helps you keep clear focus on the intent of each question.

Most importantly the interview questions must draw out what you need to find out to answer your research topic.

Types of questions

Mostly design open-ended questions are asked during interviews. Avoid closed questions. These are questions that ask for a limited response eg. “Is this a good computer?” A response to a closed question has only two possible responses: 'yes' or 'no'. Neither answer will help you much, because you won't know how the interviewee is deciding on his or her answer. Does a 'yes' mean that the computer is good value for money, or best for games or terrific for a boat anchor or ... Such questions start with words like “Is, did or are”

Another point in relation to open questions is that such questions do not have any restrictions. eg. “What are the advantages and disadvantages of this sort of computer”? Such questions allow an interviewee to make a complete response which expresses their opinion honestly and in detail giving you access to large amounts of information. Open questions usually start with words like “How, what, when, where, why”

There are thought to be six kinds of questions. One can ask questions about:
1. Behaviors - about what a person has done or is doing in relation to your research 2. Opinions/values - about what a person thinks about a topic
3. Feelings - note that respondents sometimes respond with "I think ..." so be careful to note that you're looking for feelings
4. Knowledge - to get facts about a topic
5. Sensory - about what people have seen, touched, heard, tasted or smelled in relation to a topic
6. Background/demographics - standard background questions, such as age, education, ethnicity etc.

Sequence of Questions

1. Get the respondents involved in the interview as soon as possible.
2. Before asking about controversial matters (such as feelings and conclusions), first ask about some facts. With this approach, respondents can more easily engage in the interview before warming up to more personal matters.
3. Intersperse fact-based questions throughout the interview to avoid long lists of fact-based questions, which tends to leave respondents disengaged.
4. Ask questions about the present before questions about the past or future. It's usually easier for them to talk about the present and then work into the past or future.
5. The last questions might be to allow respondents to provide any other information they prefer to add and their impressions of the interview.

Wording of Questions

1. Wording should be open-ended. Interviewees’ should be able to choose their own terms when answering questions.
2. Questions should be as neutral as possible. Avoid wording that might influence answers, e.g., evocative, judgmental wording.
3. Questions should be asked one at a time.
4. Questions should be worded clearly. This includes knowing any terms particular to the program or the interviewees’ culture.
5. Be careful asking "why" questions. This type of question infers a cause-effect relationship that may not truly exist. These questions may also cause respondents to feel defensive, e.g., that they have to justify their response, which may inhibit their responses to this and future questions.
6. Ask questions which allow the interviewee to do at least 70% of the talking. For the most part, avoid questions that can be answered "yes" or "no." The best questions are ones in which the interviewee has the opportunity to provided detail through elaboration i.e. goes on to explain why and what they think.
7. Phrase your questions so that the desired or "right" answer is not apparent to the applicant. Don’t ask leading questions, like, “don’t you think?”
8. Ask the easy questions first so as to make the interviewee feel comfortable.
9. Alternate between easy, non-threatening questions and more difficult, pointed ones.

Linking interview questions to research focus questions.

Finally, the interview questions developed must have a direct relation to the focus questions you developed for your research. If the question cannot be seen as linked to the focus questions, then don't ask it, unless just a "getting to know you" introduction type question.

Use the attached interview questions template to design your questions.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Primary and Secondary research

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The address for the Researchit blog

Gathering and harvesting!

Regardless of the topic, you should be doing secondary research at this stage to establish your knowledge and understanding of the topic you have chosen to research. Once you have comprehensive secondary knowledge it is then time to start deciding on the primary research you wish to conduct.

Just a reminder about the two types of research:

* Secondary research is based on the findings from other people's research. It involves the gathering of the results of other's research from books, reports or the Internet. Selections or summaries are made of the research allowing for evidence to be gathered to support your conclusions.

Secondary research may include:

* statistical analysis where information is readily available from the census studies, Australian Bureau of Statistics, local councils and other government bodies, is analysed to give a notion of the need for a particular target market for a project. This may be useful for establishing if there is a genuine need for a project.

* information research, including all forms of print, that is, texts, magazines, journals, pamphlets. It also includes electronic sources. These need to be checked for reliability and relevance. Anyone can publish on the Internet. Print sources should not be too out of date. Use your school and local librarians, they are trained to help you find information.

* Primary research
is the research you generate by asking questions, conducting trials and collating results. This research can take the form of quantitative research ('countable' data collection) or qualitative research(opinion/knowledge data gathering).

The most common way of collecting primary data is through surveys/questionnaires and interviews.

* A survey is usually general and covers a wide range of issues. It is designed to find information rather than to investigate specific questions about an issue. We tend to use surveys when we don't know about something and we want to identify the most important ideas, questions and issues.

* A questionnaire usually focuses more on a particular topic or issue. We tend to use these when we know something about the topic and we have some hunches about what might be the most important issue or questions to investigate.

* Interviews can be face-to-face or over the telephone or Internet. It is crucial to have a list of questions prepared. This helps prevent being side tracked and ensuring the information you require is collected. These questions may provide insight into the development of your project, as you should endeavour to seek expert advice. After all designers often work as part of a team when brainstorming ideas and solutions to problems. Many have spent their lives building up knowledge in specific areas. The yellow pages are an easy way to get in touch with such experts.

Considering the secondary research you will do for your assignment, I suggest you use the more specific questionnaire and interviews as part of your primary data collection.