chapter  3
14 Pages

The Ethnographic Interview

ByAnna M. Ortiz, California State University, Long Beach

Questions that seek to discover the meaning individuals make of their experiences are well suited for the interview method. If one suspects that there may be variation in meaning among specific groups of students, faculty, or staff, the ethnographic interview may be the best way to learn about the meaning held by different constituent groups or people. Learning how graduate students experience socialization into academic careers is a question that seeks meaning defined by the individual (Austin, 2002). When thick description of a complex topic is sought, interviews accompanied by ethnographic observation may be most appropriate. Campus climate issues for any constituency group, studied through interviews, have the potential to illuminate nuances and highly important and sensitive information often overlooked through quantitative methods.