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Conversations and interviews
Conversations and interviews

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In this course we have explored the various ways of gathering information by asking people questions. I have categorised this in different ways: formal interviews and informal conversations; structured, semi-structured and unstructured interviews and, finally, planned and unplanned conversations. In each case we’ve thought about the benefits and problems of using each of these methods and I’ve sought to give clues for how to decide between the different types of interview and the skills needed to do each of them successfully.

... and finally

I am conscious that this has been a long and detailed course with many issues to be balanced and considered. I wonder if the whole process seems intimidating. There are two points to make here, which I hope will encourage you. First, even if you make a mistake, the nature of a productive inquiry will generally give you an opportunity to recover. The repeated cycles of inquiry will always give you an opportunity for testing and improving the information you have gathered and your understanding of that material. Second, I have stressed that productive inquiry is a gradual process and there are techniques that will help you constantly improve the quality of your understanding and information gathering. A crucial point about asking questions is that it’s a skilled process, like playing the piano, playing tennis or working with computers. You get better at it! But only if you get started and learn from experience!