Staff interview pilot

In order to truly gauge how students perceive the role of pervasive and social technologies in the classroom, it is important to investigate the alternative arguments. Its a bit convoluted but I wonder how the educators perceive the perceptions of the students in terms of tech in the classroom. Countless times I have heard the phrases such as “if you look around the classroom most of them are on Facebook”. With a cohort of students that now live almost as much online as they do offline, how are they supposed to separate the physical from the virtual and should they have too? The digital sneeze is becoming more and more common, does this event affect the flow of learning in a classroom. Should students be made to turn off all ubiquitous devices and unplug from there virtual lives on entry to the classroom.

As the majority of us quickly descend into what Doug Rushkoff described as an “alway on” mentality, is this a burdon or benefit in the classroom. Can this be another powerful tool in the educators arsenal or a ball and chain to be dragged constantly through classroom activities. (Burns, Shati M; Lohenry, K., 2010)

I intend to interview staff at Falmouth University to gain a sense of how they feel pervasive, social and ubiquitous technologies are affecting their performance in the classroom. Hopefully, I can delve into whether or not they perceive the students dependancy on being connected as threat or obstruction to learning. Who knows, maybe they themselves are as connected and dependant as the students.


I intend to begin the interview process with a pilot interview delivered to colleagues within the department I work. Once each interview is complete I will ask the interviewee to fill out a questionnaire, the results of which will help me decide whether the interview process was successful.

I found this document extremely useful when considering how to pilot an interview even though it was designed to help run pilots for a questionnaire. I have devised my own version of the document which is more relevant to piloting an interview (though much of it is the same):

Points to check:

  • Do all respondents interpret the questions in the same way?
  • Are all responses appropriate?
  • Does it invoke a one word answer? (not useful in anyway)
  • Does it collect the information you want.
  • Does it allow for the interviewee to tangent? (get carried away. is this a bad thing?)
  • How long does it take?
Who will participate?
  • Professional colleagues and a small cross section of the population to be surveyed as they are one and the same.
Ways to conduct a pilot test:
  • Consider filming the pilot interviews to observe hesitation, confusion, tangents and one word answers.
  • Organise a joint debriefing with the test population, together discuss positives and negatives of the interview and ways to improve it.
  • Have interviewees read the questions and then “parrot back” the questions in different words.
  • Analyse the questions; questions should read smoothly and be easily understood.
Parameters for my interview pilot:
Optimistically, I intend to interview a total of 50 staff at Falmouth University so a ten percent cross section would make a good pilot test ( 5 members of staff ). This is well in the scope of the department I work in though I think it would be beneficial to conduct the pilot across departments so that the pilot is fair. This being said, I intend to interview 3 members of staff from my department and 2 from a neighbouring department, photography.
I will organise a debriefing to access the effectiveness of the interview with the three members of staff who work in my department. I predict a debrief with staff from outside my department to be a challenge so instead I will ask them to fill in a small survey about the interview.

Burns, Shati M; Lohenry, K., 2010. Cellular phone use in class: implications for teaching and learning a pilot. Collge student journal, (44).