Peer interviews

The success of peer interviewing depends on the dynamic of the group and how well people communicate with each other.

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?
Peer interviews Undirected interviews: none Directed interview: can prep questions, Fortune tellers: can print template 10-30 mins Slow – need to listen to all recordings/read notes - Quicker if using prepared questions People lacking in confidence, or where group dynamic is problematic - Groups who don’t know each other - People with limited verbal communication Yes, if people talk freely Yes, with appropriate questions Yes
 Suitable for:

  • engaging people in the research process
  • school groups where interviewing/setting questions can be integrated into the curriculum
  • groups that know each other well and where people are supportive of each other
  • children interviewing their parents and/or vice versa
  • people who don’t like to talk in front of a group.

What information is collected?

  • if you direct the questions people ask each other, you can use them to address your indicators or a specific area of interest
  • if you leave these interviews open, you won’t know what information you’ve collected until you have it.

How is information collected?

  • people use audio recorders or videos to record each other
  • you could go around the group and listen in yourself (however you will miss some information and may influence people’s responses
  • you could record people’s feedback when you are together as a group (although you may miss some of the more interesting points if people feel shy about sharing).

Watch out for:

  • some groups may not work well in pairs and be easily distracted, encourage them to find a quiet spot
  • works best if everyone is interviewing each other at the same time, otherwise participants may feel that they are missing out on another activity
  • best done earlier on in a session or mid-week if you run a week long programme, so that participants are not too tired, as you are relying on them to work together without you
  • research bias because group – people influence each other
  • putting a time limit on interviews can keep people more focussed.


Undirected interviews

Materials needed: audio or video recorder

Method: participants get into small groups or pairs and find a quiet place to sit in the woods, where they will interview each other about being in the woods. Each group takes an audio recorder or video with them to record their interviews.

Adaptations: you might choose to have one person in a group who is an ‘interviewer’ for one activity, and change roles for a different activity so that the interviews take place throughout a session or weekly programme, with different people acting as interviewer each time.

Interviews could be used to create a short film about people’s experiences for a group to watch at the end of your sessions. This could be used to review the experience with participants. See slideshow/video and discussion.

Pros and cons: if you leave participants to decide what questions they ask and how they interview each other your research will be much more open. You may discover things about your woodland practice that you hadn’t expected and discover things that you could investigate further in your research. On the other hand, this will gather a range of information that may take a long time to sort through and analyse as it has no structure. You may find it difficult to compare different people’s answers. You could also analyse the questions, which may be as important as the answers. Leading questions might tell you about what the interviewer thinks or considers significant.

Directed interviews

Materials needed: video or audio recorders

Method: as above but you give the a participants a brief (eg. questions such as ‘how do the woods make you feel?’ or ‘what activities in the woods make you feel good and which make you feel bad?’) or you could give them a set of questions you have devised to focus the research. See research skills for more about devising questions.

Adaptation: using a chatterbox/fortune teller

Materials needed: plain paper and chatterbox instructions and/or chatterbox template (pdf), pens/pencils, video or audio recorder.

Method: you could prepare several chatterboxes yourself (print and fold the chatterbox template) or ask your participants to make them as an activity in itself.

The ‘reveal’ part of the chatterbox is where the questions go. You could either ask participants to write questions on these or write them yourself so that each pair or group has the same eight questions to ask each other. Questions should be open (so not have yes/no answers or lead people). See research skills for more about devising questions.

Pros and cons: if you devise the questions, it will be easier to focus on specific indicators you are researching and the data you get back will be simpler to organise and compare. However the responses are likely to be restricted to the issues you have specified and you may miss other significant information.