Conducting the interviews

In the summer of 2006 interviews were conducted with seventeen members of the Indiana University History Department. The interviewers were drawn from the principal investigators on the project and from the staff of the university's Instructional Support Services. To maximize effectiveness, two interviewers took part in each interview, and, in order to assure that the process got beyond the jargon of history professionals, at least one of them was not a historian. All interviews were video or audio taped.

The form of the interviews was borrowed from the "decoding the disciplines" process developed in the Indiana University Freshman Learning Project. Each subject began by describing a "bottleneck" to learning in one of his or her courses. They were then asked to explain as completely as possible just what an expert in the field would do to get past the bottleneck. The interviewers would then continue to press for increasingly explicit descriptions of these steps until there emerged as a clear picture as possible of the operations that students had to master to succeed in that aspect of the course.

In 2007 we conducted an additional eight interviews about bottlenecks and about the lessons some professors designed to address the bottlenecks.

Click here for information on conducting these kinds of interviews.