What dominant impression does riverbend convey in this essay

Because everyone is interviewed in the same way, a structured interview may be — or at least may look — reliable. It may also make an interviewee nervous, emphasize the differences between him and the interviewer, and lead to incomplete or less-than-truthful answers.

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A semi- or unstructured interview may allow the interviewee to be more relaxed, and thus more forthcoming. It also, in the hands of an inexperienced or indecisive interviewer, may allow an interviewee to get sidetracked and never get back to the original questions. The author has conducted all three types of interviews, and has found that semi-structured interviews — having clear questions and goals for the interview, but conducting it in an informal way, with room for pursuing tangents and some simple friendly conversation — is generally productive.

The following guidelines for interviewing reflect that view. Some interviewees can manage one-word answers to nearly any question. They might answer "What was participating in the program like? If it gets you another one-word answer, keep probing, unless you sense that the person is getting angry or frustrated.

But be aware that some people are simply quieter — or less reflective — than others. You may never get much more than one-word answers from them.

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Every other word reminds him of something else — another story — and he gets continually sidetracked, never finishing the story of the dog, or any of the others, either. Beware the Curse of the Three-Legged Dog: gently but firmly direct people back to the topic if they get too far afield. Group interviews are both similar to and different from individual ones.

As with other methods, group interviews have advantages and disadvantages. The former include using the energy of the group to generate more information than might otherwise be forthcoming. Members may stimulate one another to come up with more and more useful material, as their thinking is prodded by the memories and conclusions of others. They can also act as a check on the accuracy of the information provided.

In addition, the presence of other, often familiar, interviewees may help to break down shyness or nervousness, and create a relaxed atmosphere in which everyone feels comfortable talking. The skills of the interviewer at making people comfortable — at least partially by being comfortable herself — are important here. With these potential positives come the possible negatives of conflict, antagonism, or dislike among group members, as well as other negative feelings or history that can disrupt or twist discussion and make an interview all but useless.

There are also problems that can arise from members of the group being too friendly: they may spend too much time in chit-chat, and have trouble focusing on the questions at hand. Group interviews may be useful when resources — and, as a result, interviewers — are limited, or when there are a large number of people who should be, or would like to be, interviewed. A direct observation to see how people use a public park, for instance, might consist of one or more observers simply sitting in one place or walking around the park for several hours, or even several days.

Observers might come back at different times of day, on different days, or at different times of year, in order to understand as much as possible of what goes on in the park. They might occasionally ask questions of people using the park, but in as low-key and unobtrusive a way as possible, not identifying themselves as researchers. Some kinds of direct observation — those where people are observed in situations they think are private — have the potential of violating privacy. In these instances, ethics generally demands that the observer obtain the permission of those being observed.

In laboratory schools, for instance, where teachers are trained and new educational ideas tested, classes are often observed from behind one-way mirrors. In such cases, both the teachers and the parents of the students are generally informed that such observation may happen, and are asked to sign consent forms. A participant observer in the park above might introduce himself into the activities he observes — a regular volleyball game, winter cross-country skiing, dog walking, in-line skating — and get to know well the people who engage in those activities.

He would also monitor his own feelings and reactions to using the park, in order to better understand how its users feel about it. He would probably ask lots of questions, and might well identify himself as a researcher. An effective participant observer may take a long time in some cases, years to establish himself in this way. There are exceptions to this rule, of course. Some marketing firms and corporations employ trend-spotters as participant observers. Young, hip, and stylish themselves, these observers are able to identify and mingle with adolescent and young adult trend-setters in brief interactions, and determine what products, styles, and behaviors are likely to catch on soon with young people in general.

Both direct and participant observation can be useful in community assessment.

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A participant observer in that situation is likely to be a member of the group being observed, because of the length of time it can take to establish an outsider as a participant observer. Direct observation is probably more common as an assessment tool. What should you observe and record? Clothing reflects the way people choose to present themselves to the world. A mohawk haircut, piercings, and black clothes represent an attitude and, to some extent, a world view, not just a fashion statement.

The same is true for an expensive suit, or for an outfit of jeans, wool shirt, and hiking boots.

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Paying attention to such details can increase both your understanding and the reliability of your observation. At a neighborhood festival, for instance, an observer could be watching from a window high above the street, from a position just at the edge of the crowd, from within the crowd and the festival goings-on, as a participant in a festival activity, or even as a festival volunteer or organizer.

What she would see and hear, what she would experience, and the information she would obtain would be different from each of these viewpoints. How do you record observations? That depends on the nature of the observation and on your resources. In most cases, recording would be done with a notebook and pencil or with a laptop computer. The final step here is to use the information and analysis that came from your use of qualitative methods to change the community for the better.

They can help to identify community issues and needs, and provide a basis for planning community efforts that lead to long-term change. The Action Catalogue is an online decision support tool that is intended to enable researchers, policy-makers and others wanting to conduct inclusive research, to find the method best suited for their specific project needs.

Chapter 6: Research Methods in the "Introduction to Community Psychology" describes the ecological lens in community research, the role of ethics, the differences between qualitative and quantitative research, and mixed methods research. This is a summary, but you can also download a PDF of the full report. Berg, B.

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Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Berkowitz, W. Community impact. Skip to main content. Toggle navigation Navigation. Chapter 3. Chapter 3 Sections Section 1. Understanding and Describing the Community Section 3. Collecting Information About the Problem Section 5.


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Analyzing Community Problems Section 6. Conducting Focus Groups Section 7. Conducting Needs Assessment Surveys Section 8.

Identifying Community Assets and Resources Section 9. Developing Baseline Measures Section Conducting Concerns Surveys Section Determining Service Utilization Section Conducting Interviews Section Conducting Surveys Section Implementing Photovoice in Your Community Section Windshield and Walking Surveys Section Arranging Assessments That Span Jurisdictions.

The Tool Box needs your help to remain available. Toggle navigation Chapter Sections.

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Section 1. Learn how to use qualitative methods, such as focus groups and interviews, to support and strengthen your community assessment. What are qualitative methods of assessment?


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Why use qualitative methods of assessment? When would you use qualitative methods of assessment? How do you use qualitative methods of assessment? They include: Individual interviews. These may be structured interviews, where the questions are determined beforehand, or unstructured conversations that are allowed to range wherever the interviewee wants to go in relation to the general topic. Group interviews. These are similar to individual interviews, but involve two or more interviewees at a time, rather than one.

At the same time, the interviewer has to be somewhat of a facilitator, making sure that no one person dominates, and that everyone gets a reasonable chance to speak. Here, someone actually goes and looks at a place or event, watches situations or interactions, or takes part in the life of the community or a population while recording what he finds as a result.

Community or other large meetings. They can draw on a large pool of opinions and knowledge at one time, and uncover disagreements or differences that can then be discussed. Interpretation of records, transcripts, etc. The last are not always useful in assessing community issues or needs, but they can be very effective in convincing policymakers or funders of the importance of those issues and needs.