This past Thursday in Qualitative Methods in Psychology we made the first real step in our interview project! Our PLA (Peer Learning Assistant)-led groups were matched with other PLA-led groups of the same size, and then each student choose another to practice interviewing with. I interviewed a friend named Mira, and I asked her questions about her family traditions/holidays (as this was the previously chosen topic by my PLA group). The interview went relatively smoothly, though I felt somewhat unprepared in regards to which questions were appropriate to ask my interviewee in order to elicit stories and answers. I am grateful for this practice, because I realize now that it will be very difficult to only rely on follow-up questions to keep the conversation moving; prepared questions will be necessary to guide the interviewee, as well as help me maintain my role as interviewer by focusing the interview (this practice was supposed to serve as preparatory measures for the final aspect of our interview project, the interview with the elderly). It certainly gave me an idea of what to expect, as well as lending me more comfort with the overall process.
After the ten minutes or so in which I interviewed Mira, she then interviewed me. Despite my discomfort with speaking openly to others, I actually rather enjoyed this portion; she asked me questions related to my first job experience, in particular my experience with those I worked with (co-workers) and those I worked for (the residents of the retirement home in which I worked). Overall the interview went smoothly, it was easier than I would have anticipated to regale anecdotes after only few prompting questions. However, at a couple points she repeated incorrect information back to me, just as I was guilty of doing with her. Despite that our mistakes were likely just slips of the tongue, in the "real" interview (with the elderly) this could be interpreted as not listening properly. Thus, I will be careful to listen closely to my interviewee and rephrase his/her words delicately.
The next couple of days will be spent looking over summer courses (I am behind one credit due to my bout with mononucleosis & will reconcile this over the summer) and deciding on Fall 2011 courses. It seems likely that I will be finishing all of my requirements excluding capstones for both Jewish Studies and Psychology by the end of Fall 2011, completing my final year at Clark with my two capstones in Spring 2012. Although Clark assures its students that deciding on a major is not necessary until the end of Sophomore year, I gently urge future and current students to at least get a head-start on the perspective major/minor requirements sooner rather than later. I was unsure of my desire to pursue psychology for quite a while, and thus I held off on some of its requirements. Despite that I took my time meandering through the other departments, taking a smattering of different courses, I will finish all of my requirements on time. So it is very possible to take one's time and experience many difference aspects of Clark - I do encourage this. However, it is significant to remember that there is limited time to complete requirements, and even just having a basic idea of what's required will ease additional stress and allow for smoother transitions if minds are changed.