Tell Me About It: Interviews

Last week I completed the part of my research I was most nervous about: my interviews. I interviewed two family members (coincidentally, on the same exact day) about their children’s education, their relationship with their kids’ schools, and their relationship with teachers. It was fascinating – I loved getting to sit down and talk to parents, and getting to hear more details about the relationship I’ve been researching.

It wasn’t easy getting participants, and because of that, I ended up having to change the frame of my research a little. I originally planned to interview one low SES family and one high SES family, and then I would compare the two relationships. But as I’m finding out, research rarely goes exactly according to plan. I gave my participants a demographic survey, including a question on household income, and was shocked to find that they both checked the same income bracket! Their answers fit them firmly in the high SES category. I’ll admit, I panicked a little – I was leaving Williamsburg to go home to NYC in just a few days, and I still had no low SES family. Exploring that side of the relationship was what I was most interested in. I had originally included high SES families only for comparison’s sake; I am more interested in exploring low SES families’ relationship to the school system, to then see what can be done to improve it.

So I frantically reached out to a few other possible participants. But none of them qualified. One more possible participant checked the same high income bracket. Another qualified by SES, but her child attends school outside of the district.

After doing (even more) research, I figured out my next steps. Instead of comparing the two different SES families, I’ll focus on the two case studies I have. My research question changed to the following: Why do high SES families tend to have positive relationships with the school system?

It’s not the question I originally planned on exploring, but it’s an interesting and worthwhile one. I’m excited to move forward with my adjusted research, and hoping that there are no more research surprises!


  1. jjmcneil says:

    I have had the exact same concerns when it comes to securing interview samples! It is much easier to plan on paper than to conduct in real life. On the other hand, there is no better feeling than coming out of an interview feeling like you have learned something that will contribute to your research. Good luck on the rest of your project!

  2. ecwilliams01 says:

    I totally understand the difficulties of finding participants; it can be a little frustrating. I am very impressed though with your ability to work with what information was available to you. If the data were collected honestly and in a consistent manner then they are worth saving and examining; you didn’t let the information go to waste and are able to learn about, what seems like the other side of the same coin. Nice job!