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Research Report on an Interview with an International Student

The purpose of this assignment was to perform and interview with a student in England with an international background. The methodology used to collect the data, because the interview was open ended and concerned opinion and experience rather than numbers and quantities, was qualitative. Data that can be measured in facts, (i.e. numbers, quantities) is defined as being quantitative, while the gathering of data that concerns things that may not be able to necessarily be measured are qualitative (Center for Civic Partnerships).

Apr 2, 2016   /   Visits: 2,666 Printable versionPrintable

Data Collection Method and The Interview

The interview style used was unstructured, meaning that the interviewer could base his questions upon responses from the interviewee in order to gain more insight into a particular answer or statement. The use of interviews in qualitative research gathering is an outstanding method of gaining insight into a particular experience, and "Interviews are generally easier for respondent, especially if what is sought is opinions or impressions" (Valenzuela and Shrivastava). During the interview, the student is encouraged to express opinions and delve deeper into individual experience, which cannot be accomplished as easily with other forms of qualitative data gathering such as a questionnaire or survey. The open ended method and lack of structure in the interview allows the researcher to respond directly to what is being said, and to delve deeper into specific statements made by the interviewee which allow for a greater scope of understanding.

Preparation for the Interview

Knowing the scope of the information to be researched, the interviewer is able to form a loose set of questions surrounding the topic "What is it like to be an international student in England". Prompt cards or a question list are an excellent method of provoking thoughtful response, but there also must be leeway allowed to ask questions based solely on the interviewee's response. For instance, if the interviewee relates a particular experience, the interviewer can ask specific questions surrounding that experience and not be tied to a formal structure for the interview.

Additionally, a recording device is an excellent tool, as the interviewer can then play the interview back verbatim and record the data gathered with accuracy, not relying on memory or notes which can leave responses out.

Data Analysis

International Education Students
Analyzing qualitative data can be a challenge, as compared to analyzing quantitative data. With quantitative data, the researcher has numbers, trend lines, items which are represented with mathematical figures that can be tracked and compared in a uniform manner. Not so with qualitative data. The qualitative data from an interview must be analyzed first as a whole, then at times, as the sum of its parts. For example, overall, what was the student's experience living in England and going to school? Was it favorable? The researcher then may examine parts of that whole, relating to specific experiences and how they affect the overall sum of the experience for the interviewee.

This type of qualitative research is called phenomenological research. In phenomenological research, "The focus is on the way things appear to us through experience or in our consciousness where the phenomenological researcher aims to provide a rich textured description of lived experience" (Finlay). Using this methodology, the researcher can truly burrow into the human experience, and extract pertinent information and descriptions about the interviewee's experience. "These descriptions then provide the basis for a reflective structural analysis to portray the essences of the experience. First the original data is comprised of 'naïve' descriptions obtained through open-ended questions .... Then the researcher describes the ... experience based on reflection and interpretation of the research participant's story. The aim is to determine what the experience means for the people who have had the experience. From there general meanings are derived."

Partial Transcript

Interviewer: Eric, how are you?
Eric: Good.

Interviewer: Actually, I've got some interview questions for you, thanks for giving me your time and stuff. It's based on international students in England.

Eric: I'd love to do that.
Interviewer: So why did you choose to come to England for your Master's?

Eric: There's different reasons. Firstly because I used to be a University teacher in China, so when I got the chance I joined the program between the University of (unclear, Chinese name) and the University of England. So I choose this University for my Master's degree with the major in International Business because I used to specialize in English as my major, my undergraduate, so when I come to UK I want to learn something new for myself and my future career so I think that is why I choose UK and because UK is a country with old tradition and I love the British culture so I think this was one of the reasons I choose UK and also the time learn for post graduate is only one year and I think for me this is most satisfactory between other countries.

Interviewer: Ok, very good... You talk about the traditions, you love the traditions here in the UK.
Eric: Uh-huh..

Interviewer: So why do you like the traditions?
Eric: Oh, because I used to major in English.



The overwhelming reason the interviewee wanted to come to the UK for his degree is to actually experience the culture. He mentions the traditional values of the UK, and how he felt that in order to actually instruct his students, he had to experience the culture first hand. He felt that this is not something that can be learned from a book, but had to be lived in order to be learned. Overall, his experience in the UK has been a positive one, as he feels that the people here treat him well, and that as a culture, the citizens are kind and upstanding. From this, as the interviewer, I learned about cultural views and how one may feel as an outsider coming to this country.

Additionally, I felt that the methodology of this data gathering was superb. Conducting the interview, I felt as if I was simply having a conversation with the interviewee and felt that I gained his trust and understanding simply by wanting to understand what he had experienced.


Center for Civic Partnerships. "Quantitative and Qualitative Evaluation Methods."

Dapzury Valenzuela and Pallavi Shrivastava. "Interview as a Method for Qualitative Research."

Finlay, Linda. "Introducing Phenomenological Research."

Moustakas, Clark. "Phenomenological Research Methods." Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks California.

Ratcliff, Donald. "15 Methods of Data Analysis in Qualitative Research."

Bryman, A., and Bell E. Business Research Methods 1st Edition Oxford University Press.
Author Info
Master's Level Studies

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