An Interview Of International Students Education Essay

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In order to get more precise information and direct results, the research was conducted by two main methodologies, which are interview, and focus group. Interview is one of the most effective and direct way to examine the assumption made previously and compares the results with expected ones. It is also a way for participant to get involved and talk about their views and the interviewees are able to discuss their perception and interpretation in relation to a given situation. Some argued the interview is not simply concentrated on collecting data about life: it is part of life itself; its human embeddedness is inescapable (Cohen, et al., 2000). As my research is focused on certain groups of people's life behavior, thus interview would be the primary method to be used.

Structured interview was considered at first as I thought it would have more control of the interview and it could be easier to compare all the results. However, as the questions are rather open, answers are very different from each and during the interview, interviewee would give some answer that may raise another valuable question. The information interviewee are able provide is actually more than I thought before and it may be better to just use semi structured interview and let it be more free and that way I could also get more meritorious results. Although different questions might be used during interviewing different students, all the questions are relevant to the main research purpose. Moreover, the flexibility of semi structured interview could overwhelm the limitations on statistical analysis that would result. And flexibility in designing and refining the interview guides and in executing interviews is possibly the most crucial key to success in using this method (Horton, et al, 2004). Corbetta (2003) illustrate points like for semi structured interview, within each topic, the interviewer is free to make the conversation as he thinks fit, to ask the questions he finds appropriated in the words he considers best, to explain the questions and ask for clarification if the answer is not clear and to create his own style of conversation. In semi structured interview, a specific hypothesis does not need to be tested necessarily by the interviewer (David & Sutton, 2004). Because the research is trying to find out a result rather than to prove a hypothesis, it may be better to adopt this type of interview.

Ten International students from different countries were interviewed meanwhile five Chinese student were interviewed as well. The fifteen interviewees claimed they all drink before the interviews officially start. In order to create a relaxed and private atmosphere, all the interviews took place in interviewees' room and all of interviewees have their individual room in No.11th building (international students' residence, No. 12th Building (postgraduate students' residence) and No. 16th building (Male students residence). Due to the avoidance of mistranslation between Chinese and English, the interviews were conducted entirely in English and the answers were recorded by handwriting summary in English as well. Some questions were added after a few interview were done as comparing the answers between some Chinese student interviewees gave and some international student interviewees, there will be valuable questions emerged. And that could be seen as areas I did not anticipate. Semi structured interview gives me opportunities to probe for ideas and opinions of the interviewee. Probing is understood as a way for the interview to explore new paths which were not initially thought (Gray, 2004, p.217). Also key themes and sub-questions from interviewee give researcher a sense of order to create questions from unplanned encounters (David & Sutton, 2004, p.87). For example, one question was which way of drinking do you prefer: the typical Chinese student way of drinking (i.e. buy a bottle and mix it with soft drinks and share it) or typical Western student way of drinking (i.e. everyone buy their own drink) and why. Most of Chinese student and international student interviewee answered preferably typical Chinese student way; however Chinese student interviewee also claimed they think international student generally would not prefer the typical Chinese student way of drinking. Consequently a question for international student interviewee "why do you think some Chinese student claim they think international student would not prefer the typical Chinese student way of drinking" is add up.

Furthermore, with the aim of getting more in depth results, the framework of focus group were used as second method. A focus group is a structured group interview. It is an exploratory technique that sets out to find a range of opinions about a particular topic (Hawe, 1990). Focus groups are especially effective for capturing information about social norms and variety of opinion or views within a population. The population of this research would be two particular group- international and Chinese students in UNNC. Denzin and Lincoln (1994, p.365) demonstrate that the term "focus group" could be used to a situation in which the interviewer ask group members very specific questions about a topic after relatively large research has already been completed.

Because not everyone will have the same views and experiences and due to different in age, gender, access to resources, and other factors-many different viewpoint will likely be expressed by participants. Within a study, focus groups are typically one method among many that are used to create a complete picture of how given issue affects a community of people. Focus groups contributes to this broad understanding by providing well-grounded data on social and cultural norms, the pervasiveness of these norms within the community, and people's opinion about their own values. Denzin and Lincoln (1994, p.365) demonstrate that the term "focus group" could be used to a situation in which the interviewer ask group members very specific questions about a topic after relatively large research has already been completed. Because semi-structured interview had already been done at earlier stage and I want to find out wider and more in depth result, two focus groups was formed, and participant were randomly selected, and participants are entirely different from those who took part in the interview. According to Merton et al, the size of the group should apparently be determined by tow considerations: it should not be too large to handle and not to be too small it fails to provide better coverage that an interview with one individual. Nevertheless, the number of participants also depends on the objectives of the research (Stewart & Shamdasani, 1990). Smaller groups including four to six people can be preferable when the participants have a great deal to share the topic or have had enough experience with the topic that is going to be discussed (Kreuger, 1988, p. 94). Because of lacking time and I am trying to reduce cost, also international students and Chinese students are both familiar with the research topic and they have their enthusiasm answering the questions, each group consists of five members, of whom the first group with international students discusses four questions, the second group with all Chinese students discussing the same questions. Moreover, a focus group should be carefully planned discussion designed to inquire perceptions in a defined area of interest in a permissive, non-threatening environment (Kreuger, 1988, p. 18). All the questions were pre planed and under the direction of not being repetitive as interview questions and the first group discussion took place in a kitchen of international students residence, where is regarded like a common room for international students and the place they have drinks and socialize. This way all the participants may feel less intense and more permissive. To make sure the second group participants have a relaxed atmosphere as well, the discussion occurred in the juice bar, a place where Chinese students always like to socialize, relax and having discussion there. The procedure of the discussions were recorded by tape recorder and summarized in word documents.


Ethical problems and concerns are part of everyday practice of doing all kinds of research, especially in qualitative research. It is argued there are at least two major dimensions of ethics in qualitative research (Guillemin & Gillam, 2004). The first one is "procedural ethics" that normally involves seeking approval from a relevant ethics committee to undertake research involving humans. The second one is "ethics in practice" that ethical issues arise in doing the research. About the usefulness in addressing ethical issues that originate in practice, professional ethic codes may be not practical and applicable but only serve as general guidelines (Guillemin & Gillam, 2004). Procedural ethics of my research would be evaluated. There are some areas in which ethical problems face the evaluator such as withholding the nature of the evaluation research from the participant, exposing participants to acts that would harm them; invasion of participant's privacy and withholding benefits from participant and so on (House, 1993). As for my research, ethic would be examined from the aspects of informed consent, confidentiality and privacy.

Informed consent in qualitative research is often consider dangerous as it indicate that the researcher knows before the event that what it will be in the end and its possible effects, however this is not the case in qualitative research (Eisner, 1991). Although as my research is qualitative, I am not able to tell the participants what the results would be and what effects it would bring, I did informed and explained all the participants the nature of the investigation before the interview and focus group was initiated. Piccolo & Thomas (2008) illustrated that the subject should express his/her acceptance of tolerating deceit and inconvenience and the investigator must guarantee the safe gourd of confidentiality and the welfare of the participant. Subject must be made feel that they could quit the study at any time without any punishment and repercussion. In my case, all the participants were asked whether if they are willing to answer the questions of their drinking behavior and also give information about their parents' drinking behavior as there are questions related in the interview. Additionally, they were informed if they feel uncomfortable answering some questions they could just refuse to answer it or quit the interview or discussion at any moment.

Qualitative evaluators could always deal with confidentiality by sampling process and through technical safeguards when the data is analyzed (Shaw, 2003). The United States National Institution of Heath grants certificates of confidentiality for some investigation contain private information that may lead to stigmatization or discrimination, information related to use of alcohol, drugs or other addictive substances is one of them. Because my research is linked with the usage of alcohol, confidentiality is needed without any doubt. In order to make data summary easier, I had asked all of the participants' full name, age and nationality. Their information along with interview responds transcript is going to be destroyed after data analysis is done. The record tape and the documents that have all the information in would be destroyed and deleted. Interviewees and participants were told their information would be vanished after the research is done and they gave their information voluntarily. Furthermore, I chose to have the interviews and focus group in participants own room protected participants' privacy as they were talking their own behavior.


The limitations of this study begin with me, as a researcher. I am restricted with timing, lack of certain knowledge and access. Basically, being an undergraduate student, non-professional and lacking in confidence due to this being the first research study could affect what I have to present.

One limitation of my research could be related to reflexivity as semi structured interview is one of the method I used in the research. The interview has been crucial for deconstructing the production of knowledge within research, leading to concerns over how we understand another person's "world view", nevertheless, when it comes to concerns over method or analysis within the academy, reflexivity is often limited to either an analysis of the dynamics between the interviewer and the interviewee or warning of biased caused by disposition of the researcher (Briggs, 2002). As mentioned earlier, there were some question of the interview were added and modified after a few interview as done, responds of some early interviewee have effects on the generation of the question. Their answers changed my perception of some certain area before designing the questions and I have to change and add questions in the end to get more accurate and specific data. Moreover, being a Chinese student doing interview that contains questions about other people's view of Chinese students' drinking behavior, interviewee sometimes may think twice before answering some questions and being conservative not give all the responds they want because my nationality is affecting them. Also there might be some degree of demand characteristics existed during the interview. A demand characteristic refers to an experimental artifact where participants form an interpretation of the experiment's purpose and unconsciously change their behavior accordingly. There are some of the question of the interview could be misleading the interviewee give answers they anticipant the interviewer would want. For example question No. 17 assumed Chinese student would go to the ideal student bar regularly, this may give them the wrong idea I want the answer that there would be more interaction between Chinese and international students if there was ever a ideal student bar.

Other limitations could not be neglected as well. Due to the reason this is my first research, I am a relatively inexperienced interviewer, which may result not able to ask prompt questions and some relevant data might not be gathered. With the method of semi structured interview itself, not only the data could be inaccurate, but also it could have unreliable data as it is non-standardized and different questions were asked for the interview. And the validity could be questionable as I am not able to find out if the respondents were lying. Furthermore, sample of my research could be too small as I only interviewed fifteen interviewees and the number of Chinese student participants and international students participants were not the same, this could create biased results. Meanwhile, the use of focus group may have similar flaws. Data could be unreliable and validity should be argued as well as the small number of respondents limits generalization to the wider population. Also during the process of doing focus group interview, there was a group member of international students' group being over strong and dominant of the discussion which could cause biased results.


Participant observation



Reflexivity (include demand characteristics)