Learning and social change: using interviews as tools to prompt reflection on practice

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Abstract:

This article argues that interviewing is a process in which interviewees can reflect on critical decisions about their academic careers. Reflective practice is a course of action where a person ponders significant incidents in her or his life. In so doing, she or he can make critical decisions about her or his own well-being. Drawing on our experiences collecting qualitative data for ADVANCE Purdue, an NSF-funded project to increase the number and success of women faculty in STEM academic disciplines, we illustrate how interviews triggered our interviewees to think differently about accessing or interpreting promotion and tenure policies of the university. Hence, we argue that interviews can be considered as a form of reflective practice where interviewees decide to take alternative actions to enhance their well-being. In this paper, we ask: (a) How do interviews trigger new realizations among interviewees?; and (b) How do interviews act as agents of potential social change? Data are derived from semi-structured interviews with faculty members from science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and agriculture disciplines at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. We interpret the data qualitatively in the context of reflective practice.

Keywords: interviews; learning; methods; qualitative analyses; reflective practice; social change

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14623943.2011.591599

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology and Anthropology,Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, USA 2: School of Engineering Education, Purdue University, West LafayetteIndiana, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2011

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