Interviews: one-to-one

It can be time consuming both to interview each individual and to analyse what they have said afterwards. However it is a really effective way of gathering information about what people feel/believe about being in the woods from their perspective as long as you try to remain neutral in your questioning.

Research method Preparation time Time to gather data Time to analyse data Not suitable for ... Does data indicate wellbeing? Who, what, where people experience wellbeing? Is it an activity in itself?
Surveys If using standard questionnaire, very little time. More time needed for devising own questions  Depends on how survey is administered (e.g. online or paper) Depends on size and scope of survey (e.g. closed versus open questions) Self-administered not suitable for people who have limited writing skills, Online not suitable for people who don’t use/have access to the internet Yes, with appropriate questions Yes, with appropriate questions No
 Suitable for:

  • more confident and talkative participants
  • participants who prefer not to talk in front of a group
  • people who are used to doing one-to-one reviews at school/work
  • if working with a regular group it can be useful to interview external staff present e.g. tutors/teachers as they may give you further insights into behaviour.

What information is collected?

  • people’s thoughts and feelings rather than observations of actual behaviour
  • taking into account the bias when analysing interviews is a way for people to be represented directly in the research – can use direct quotes as evidence.

How is information collected?

  • audio/video recordings
  • taking notes – though this can be challenging if you are also asking questions.

Watch out for:

  • while doing one-to-one interviews the rest of the group will need to be busy doing something else. This can be distracting and the interviewee may feel that they’re missing out
  • if interviewing people after, rather than during, a woodland session their answers may be affected by passage of time, selective memories
  • people can sometimes be intimidated by recording equipment such as dictaphones being held in front of them
  • asking leading questions. It can be helpful to write a ‘script’ and have a ‘dummy’ run so that you feel comfortable with this style of questioning. You can also explain to participants that you don’t want to ask leading questions so the interview might not be very conversational
  • you could try role-playing or trialling interviews so that you can feel comfortable before doing interviews for real
  • having natural conversations rather than conducting a formal interview can make it easier for participants to talk freely. An established relationship with participants helps this. You need to remember to think about bias when you ask questions/talk.

Methods

Directed interview

Materials needed: prepared questions, audio/video recorder.

Method: this is a fairly straightforward one-to-one interview that could take place anywhere from an office to the woods.

Adaptations: noting down prompts and sub-questions in advance can help focus the interviewer and ensure that you get as much information as possible from interviewees without asking leading questions.

You might want to run trial interviews or role play to help you to feel comfortable in your role as interviewer. You can also practise the language of your questions and prompts to try to prevent bias creeping in.

If you are short of time you could interview people over the phone or via Skype.

If much of your research is based on other methods e.g. observations, mid-project interviews with participants and/or staff can be useful. These can help you get a sense of how being in the woods might be different from how people feel in other situations e.g. in school. See sharing research findings with participants for more.

You might choose to interview stakeholders before your woodland activity begins, enabling you to find out what their expectations are. If you re-interview them at the end of the project you will be able to compare their expectations with experiences.

Informal interview

Materials needed: audio/video recorder.

Method: if you have an audio or video recorder you can interview people during an activity or walking along side a respondent during the woodland walk part of the session.

Watch out for: make sure that you are sensitive to where you are in relation to the rest of the group. The interviewee may not want to say things if other people can overhear. They might also get distracted by other things that are going on or feel that they are missing out on another activity.