Bachelor Thesis Log 5

You are reading an older blog post. Please be aware that the information contained in it may be technologically outdated. This text may not necessarily reflect my current opinions or capabilities.

This is an English translation of a blog post that was originally published in German.

August 17th, 2010

This week I'm taking a little thematic leap from the teachlet definition back to my empiricism. A few weeks ago I already mentioned once that I would like to conduct interviews to collect more “fodder” for my work. Today I want to explain to you how I came to that conclusion, what methodology I want to use and what I want to achieve with it.

Kinds of Interviews

Social science knows a considerable variety of forms and standards for interviews. For my approach, the different types of semi-structured interviews (as opposed to standardized interviews) are particularly interesting, since they are more openly structured in comparison and allow and even encourage the interviewee to talk freely during the interview, so that unpredicted topics can organically come up in conversation.

Very simplified (methodology purists please cover your ears for a moment), one could say: in semi-structured interviews, not all questions need to be on paper in advance. In addition, the guide interviewer tends to hope not for the shortest and most precise answers possible, but for the longest and most detailed answers possible. No two guided interviews are identical.

Problem-centered Interviews

Semi-structured interviews are then further subdivided. After getting a rough overview, I intend to follow the approach of the problem-centered interview (quoting German Wikipedia):

The problem-centered interview is a survey method of qualitative social research, with which data from interviewees are collected (and evaluated). The focus is on the experiences, perceptions and reflections of the respondents on a very specific problem (topic).

The method then makes further demands on the systematics (e.g. a supplementary short questionnaire). To decide whether the additional structures are worthwhile for me, I will probably have to read up a bit first. However, it is certain that the above-mentioned context of use fits very well for me.

Interview Guide

The central document of a semi-structured interview is the interview guide. This is something like an agenda for the interview. It contains all the topics (often including pre-formulated questions) that the interviewer wants to discuss, in what is expected to be a sensible order. Its purpose is to keep track of the interview and ensure that no topic is forgotten during the interview.

I will probably have to develop a separate guide for each interview, or at least make adjustments, since experiences with teachlets vary with different presenters. Nevertheless, a basic framework must exist beforehand. Therefore, here are (more or less shooting from the hip) a few questions I would like to ask.

  1. What experiences have you already had with the teachlet concept?
  2. How did you experience teachlets in comparison to other forms of teaching that you know?
  3. Where do you see limitations of the concept? Where would you definitely not use teachlets?
  4. Do you have any advice for future teachlet moderators? What is not yet established knowledge, but should definitely be considered?

What other question(s) might be important to ask? As a reminder, the interview guide is not meant to have every single question pre-formulated, but rather a kind of checklist to ensure that none of the questions included are forgotten during the interview.

Interview Candidates

In addition to Axel Schmolitzky and Christian Späh, who have already been mentioned here several times, there are a number of people who have already presented teachlets and whom I would consider to have important insights to contribute to my work. Out of consideration for the personal rights of these persons I do not keep this list publicly for the time being. However, as soon as appointments have been made, I will of course disclose everything important here. To what extent minutes and/or recordings of the interviews can be published, I will then discuss with the interviewed persons individually. Maybe some will not want it at all, then it should not fail because of that. But I actually assume that some of them will be found here afterwards.

Is there anyone who has important things to say about teachlets and wants to be heard? Please get back to me.

Is anyone interested in the concept of semi-structured interviews and might just want to experience one? That should work too. Let me know.


One often forgotten but important detail is the question of recording technology. You need a device that can record spoken language in a (hopefully) quiet room with satisfactory quality. Unfortunately, my cell phone can't do it (I've tried). But in a pinch, the microphone in my laptop is sensitive enough for it.


Next Tuesday (perhaps with a day's delay) there will probably be a surprise topic, because I forgot to ask the person responsible, to what extent I may talk about it in advance… So I'll just build up a little suspense. Until next Tuesday!


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