I (Yiola) have used the method of interviews for data gathering for over a decade. I love it;the entire process is fascinating. From designing research questions, to finding suitable participants, to setting up interview dates, to meeting with participants, to reading the transcript and to sharing the transcript with the participants.
There is something special about qualitative interviews. Perhaps what is special is the human connection, perhaps the interaction, perhaps the commitment demonstrated by the participants . I think perhaps all of the aforementioned make the interview process special. In my many years of interviewing participants, what inspires me the most is the passion the participants demonstrate as they explain with detail and careful description their thoughts and experiences about education. I can (and do) listen for hours. The participants I have worked with show appreciation for their involvement in the research and often express how much learning they receive from the experience. The latter is particularly true of participants in longitudinal studies.
The role of the researcher: what an honour and privilege to spend time with willing participants; to be privy to their time and thoughts. A special relationship develops between research and participant that is built on trust, respect and commitment. This relationship takes time to foster and requires thoughtfulness. The interview data is often the foundation of the research. This data is built upon a deep understand of research literature, thoughtful research questions, carefully crafted interview questions, and committed research participants. Relationship building is key when using interviews in the research process.