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Capturing Sense-Made School Practice. The Activities of the Interviewer

It is difficult for researchers to capture the complex life and practices in school organizations. However, it is important to understand how leaders, teachers and students relate to each other and manage different change processes.

Lærere i samtale. Foto: iStock Foto: iStock

The most common method in organizational research is interviews, but the research related to this specific topic is relatively poor.

The aim of this article is to discuss how to interview to investigate the practice of school organizations. Two former research projects (a Swedish project of leadership and CIESL) were assessed.

The theoretical framework was (1) practice theory activity and processual character, (2) the critical role of body and material things, (3) individual agency, (4) knowledge as capacity to make meaning and to perform a social and material activity, and (5) the importance of power and politics) ( Nicolini 2013). I addition Weick’s (2001) theory of sense-making in organizations wsa used (social, identity, retrospect, cues, ongoing flow, plausibility and enactment).

The activities of the interviewer in this context are expressed in four categories: (1) interview questions, (2) tools, (3) samplings and (4) interview groupings.

We found it difficult to address the critical role of body and material things and to pay attention to the importance of power and politics. Textual aspects dominated in the interviews, whereas the bodily and the material aspects of practice seemed more elusive.

Individual and focus group interviews can constitute an interesting combination for grasping

sense-made school practice and the complexity of the individual and collective level in organizations .The two forms of interviews can offer different approaches to answering research questions.

Full reference:

Ulf Blossing1, Pål Roland2 & Randi M. Sølvik2 (2018) Capturing Sense-Made School Practice. The Activities of the Interviewer, Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, DOI: 10.1080/00313831.2018.1476404

1 Institutt for pedagogikk og spesialpedagogikk, Universitetet i Gøteborg, Sverige
2 Nasjonalt senter for læringsmiljø og atferdsforskning, Universitetet i Stavanger, Norge

Nicolini, D. (2009). Articulating practice through the interview to the double. Management Learning, 40(2), 195–212. https://doi.org/10.1177/1350507608101230

Weick, K. E. (2001). Making sense of the organization. Oxford: Blackwell Business.