Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Interviewing Professors: Setting the Groundwork for Your Writing Research

For Project 2, each group will interview a professor or instructor your selected discipline.  The professor interviews are meant to provide insights regarding the nature of writing in your field and to give additional direction to your writing research.

Please Note: These interviews are not meant as human subjects research.  You may not ask any personal questions during the interview, and you may not record the interviews (though you should certainly take notes during the interview).  Before posting notes or your interviewees name to your blog, must obtain either written or e-mailed permission, and you must make it clear that your interview may withdraw this permission at any time if he or she isn't comfortable being identified on your blog.

Professor Interviews: Preparing

Before interviewing someone, you want to be prepared with relevant questions and enough background knowledge to generate follow-up questions as you go.  You should be prepared to conduct a 15-30 minute interview.
  • Start with your Questions: What are the questions you want to ask?  What would you like to learn about the field?  Which of your assumptions would you like to verify?
  • Schedule a Meeting: Most professors and instructors are easily reached over e-mail.  It's best if you know the professor from a class you've taken.  One person from your group should be in charge of contacting and following-up with the professor, but it's a good idea to CC your group members (and of course let the professor know that you're doing so.)
  • Make sure you have Permission:  Since you'll be posting your project to a public-domain blog, you need permission from your professor before affiliating his or her name with your blog.  I recommend setting up your blog, and including a link to your blog in your e-mail to the professor, and then asking if you may post your interview notes and his or her name on your blog.  Please let the professor know that this is entirely optional, and that you won't post anything without his or her permission.
  • Be Polite and Flexible: Please let your professor know that it's perfectly all right if he or she doesn't have time to meet with you.  Not every professor will have time to discuss a project from an outside class - by taking a few minutes to participate in our ENG 101 project, they're doing us an important favor, and it's important to recognize this.
  • Let them know How Many are coming: At least two members of your group much be present for the interview and taking notes.  Three or four students is better, but note that professor offices might not be large enough to accommodate that many visitors.
  • Optional: Send a list of your questions.

Day of the Interview
Here are tips for a smooth interview:
  • Meet as a Group beforehand: Before you and your partners go in, meet fifteen minutes beforehand somewhere near (but not right in front of...) the professor's office.  This way, you can go over your notes beforehand and then arrive on-time.
  • Bring copies of your questions.
  • Bring a clipboard and/or hard surface to write one.
  • Bring paper or a computer to take notes.
After the Interview
E-mail a thank-you note.  Include a link to your blog and interview notes, if applicable.

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