Constructing an Interview Guide: Children vs. Adult-Centered
PART ONE: Expanding your research topic and questions into an interview study.
State the research topic that you developed and settled on in your last assignment.
Substance abuse is proving to be a challenge to control in poor
neighborhoods, with children (and teenagers) now being used by adults to ferry drugs on their behalf. This has increased the chances of children to start abusing drugs in adolescence.
State the primary research question(s) that you narrowed down at the end of the last assignment.
This study poses the question: What factors contribute to high rates of substance abuse in poor neighborhoods?
Write one brief paragraph explaining how interviewing children or youth might help you answer your research question.
Since children are used to carry drugs from one household to another in the poor neighborhood, it is prudent to include them in the study to determine how they are lured to participating in this crime. Similarly, since teenagers and young adults are leading in abusing drugs, it is also prudent to include them in the study to know the contributory factors.
Write one brief paragraph explaining how interviewing adults might help you answer that research question.
In most poor neighborhoods, parents use informal childcare arrangements. For most families, both fathers and mothers engage in informal employment and use relatives and friends to take care of their children and young adults. Interviewing the parents can be instrumental in understanding why they choose informal childcare arrangements, how they come to know their children abuse drugs, and how they address the issue.
What types of information would you be able to learn from children that you would not be able to learn from adults? List them below.
There is some information that the children might not want to share with their caregivers, and therefore having them for the interview can make them open up on the topic under discussion. For instance, they can open up on how they are lured into carrying drugs, how much they are paid, when they were first approached, how long they have been in the illicit business, and whether they are threatened when they do not cooperate.
What types of information would you be able to learn from adults that you would not be able to learn from children? List them below.
The adults can open up on the reasons for trusting friends and relatives to take care of their children, whether they have abused drugs before in the presence of their children, whether they still abuse drugs, when they realized their children were being used to ferry drugs, what actions they have taken, among others.
Which type of interview (child or adult-centered) would strengthen your sociological research project the most, given your specific qualitative research question and why?
Child-Centered. Children are the ones being used to ferry drugs. As such, the interview should be centered around them and include their insights and those of the caregivers (as secondary) on the issue.
What are the limitations associated with selecting each population (children and adults) for an interview?
When selecting children participants, despite getting their consent, the interviewer has to seek parental consent, which at times, may be hard to get when the parents are involved in the abuse of drugs or use their children to carry drugs.
When selecting adult participants, free consent has to be sought, and at times, the adults might not be willing to participate in the research if they are culprits, or they might demand payment to be involved in the research.
PART TWO: Child-Centered Semi-Structured Interview Guide
Create a 20-question interview guide designed for interviews with children, with appropriate follow up probes for each question, that would help you as a researcher to better understand the sociological research topic/question(s) of your choice:
How old are you?
Are both your parents alive?
Do you live with both your parents? If No, are they divorced, separated, or living elsewhere because of employment?
How long have you been living in this neighborhood?
Do you go to school? Where?
Are both your parents working? Or only one?
When your parents are at work, and you are not in school, where are you or where do you go?
What do you know about substance abuse? Where did you hear about it?
Do your parents drink alcohol or use any drugs?
When did you notice? Did it have any effect on them for you to notice?
Have you ever been asked to go and purchase alcohol or drugs?
Have you ever tasted alcohol or any drug? If Yes, when was your first time?
Did your parents notice? If Yes, what did they do?
Have your neighbors ever asked you to carry drugs from one neighborhood to another? If Yes, did you accept?
Did he or she pay you? If Yes, how much, and how did you spend the money?
Did he or she ask you not to report to your parents? Did he or she threaten you?
Did any of your parents notice? If Yes, what was their reaction?
Do any of your age mates also engage in this behavior? In your neighborhoods?
What are you going to do not to engage in this illicit business in your neighborhood?
What do you think should be done to stop this behavior? Do your parents have a role in it?
PART THREE: In-Depth Interview Guide for Adults on Youth Topics
Design and develop a 20-question interview guide for adults, with appropriate follow up probes, that would help you as a researcher to better understand the sociological research topic/question(s) of your choice:
How long have you lived in this neighborhood?
Are you employed? Formal or casual job?
How would you describe yourself? Are you financially stable or unstable?
Do you have a child or children? If Yes, how many and how old are they?
Who takes care of your children when you not around? Do you use formal or informal childcare arrangements? If informal, who takes care of your children?
Why did you choose to use informal childcare services?
Do your children go to school? If Yes, where?
How would you describe yourself? Are you a good or bad parent?
What are the current social problems in this neighborhood? If drug abuse one of them?
What are the commonly abused drugs in this neighborhood? What makes them common?
Do you drink alcohol or use any other drug not prescribed by the health practitioner? If Yes, when did you start? How has it impacted your family?
Has any of your children ever noticed or seen you? If Yes, how did you react? How did he or she react?
How have drug abuse or drinking of alcohol influenced your behavior? How do you interact with neighbors and friends?
How do you get this drug? Do you purchase it yourself or somebody brings it to your house? Have you ever used your child to collect them for you?
Has any of your children been used to carry or collect drugs? Does he or she abuse drugs?
How did you notice? What was your reaction? Do you think it is their fault or yours?
Have you observed similar trends in the neighborhood, where children are used to carry or collect drugs for the adults to avoid detection by the police?
What are you going to do to make sure your children are not used in carrying or collecting drugs for the young adults or adults?
What is your advice to other children, teenagers, and other parents?
What do you think the law enforcement agencies can do to prevent drug abuse in this neighborhood?
PART FOUR: Reflections on the Process
What are the major differences between the two interview guides you designed?
While the first interview guide seeks to get input from the children concerning the issue of substance abuse, the second interview guide focuses on the parents’ or adults’ input on the subject. The second interview guide also grills the adults more than children, indicating that the parents are more than children to blame for this vice in their neighborhood.
What are the major similarities between the two interview guides you designed?
The two interview guides seek to determine the causes of substance abuse problems in the neighborhood despite using different viewpoints. Also, the interview guides ask the participants what they think should be done to solve the problem.
Do any of these similarities/differences surprise you? Why or why not?
They do not surprise me at all. It is expected that the adults have more understanding of the problem than children.
What specific age group did you tailor your youth interview guide to?
Teenagers (experimenting and seeking to please their peers more than their parents).
What specific age group of adults did you tailor your second interview guide to?
Parents in their late 30s and early 40s (when they are expected to monitor their teenage children more closely).Which guide was more difficult to create and why? Which was the most successful in your opinion and why?
Are there any questions that convey researcher bias in any way? (e.g. are there any questions that might make an interviewer feel judged by the interviewer?) What could you do to reduce the potential for a participant to feel judged by you when interviewing them.Yes, there are such questions. However, as the interview is to be conducted at an individual or face-to-face capacity, I can alter such questions depending on the interviewee’s expressions. The reading of the non-verbal cues and facial expressions can help determine whether the interviewer can be pressed harder or not or when they do not have an interest in the questions.
Are there any questions in your guide that are “rapport building”?
Which questions and how do they build rapport?
Yes, there are such questions. For instance, “What do you think should be done to stop this behavior? Do your parents have a role in it?”
This question makes the child realize he or she has a role to play in stopping substance abuse. Besides, it allows them to blame their parents and know that it is not their fault to engage in such behaviors. Elsewhere, the adult participant is also given the opportunity to express their thoughts on the matter and who they think should be blamed. For instance,
“What is your advice to other children, teenagers, and other parents?” This question allows them to pass the blame, offer input, and as such, helps to build rapport.
Do you imagine that it will be easier for you as a researcher to build rapport with children or adults and why?
It is easier to build rapport with children than parents because, as the questions are structured, much of the blame is placed on the adults. As such, the children will feel it is not their fault. This way, they can give an honest assessment on the whole issue.
As for the adults, since the majority will think it is their fault that their children are being used in illegal business, they can be hostile.
Do you think your interview guides would encourage children/adults to share their experiences with you? Why or why not?
The children will be encouraged to share their experiences because they are portrayed as “victims” in the whole issue of substance abuse.
What did you find challenging about this activity? Conversely, what came naturally to you?
Do you feel confident that you could use either of these interview guides in real life (aka in “the field”)? Why or why not?
I feel confident because it gives me the opportunity to gather primary data that can be helpful when making a judgment on real-life problems. Being in the field allows the researcher to polish areas that are unclear than when relying on the secondary data collected by somebody else.
Do you expect that interviewing in the field would be challenging? Why or why not?
The ethical considerations are what might make interviewing in the field challenging. While the primary focus is to gather data on the issue under study, this has to happen in both legal and ethical frameworks for credibility and respect of the persons participating in the interview.
Would these guides be most effective (a) Face-to-face? (b) Over the phone? (c) On zoom or FaceTime? (d) in a written interview online survey request? Why?
Face-to-Face. It offers the interviewer the chance to change, modify, or retain the questions depending on the non-verbal cues or facial expressions (physical contact). Besides, it is not likely the interviewee will walk out on you or hang up for being bothersome, as it is the case with other platforms such as phone or zoom.
What concerns do you have about the interviewing process, if any?
Obtaining consent from the parents whose children are less than 18 years can be challenging, especially when they are involved in using their children to carry or collect drugs. Or when they are addicts themselves.
QUESTIONS: After completing this activity, what questions do you
have for me about building an interview guide?
How do I structure questions to build rapport?
How do I eliminate researcher bias?
How do I set questions that target a specific age?
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