As we prepare to conduct clinical interviews, our readings this week discuss effective methods of conducting these interactions with students and what is important when gathering information about a student’s thoughts and rationalities.
Russ and Sherin (2013) give us a short and visually pleasing article about clinicals, and briefly discuss the difficulty of ‘seeding new ideas’. Greeno and Hall (1997) detail ‘representation’ and the importance of the interpretation of a representation, insofar as the student’s ability to retrieve information from a representation. Ginsburg (1997) gives much more advice in a long, but comprehensive, dissection of clinical interview methods.
I am the oldest of four brothers, and starting there, my whole life I think I have been pretty good at relating to people younger than me. Some of the skills involved in that are understanding their perspective, using their language and connecting similarities or interests. When reading Ginsburg and Russ & Sherin, the significance of ‘getting on the sutdent’s’ level, so to speak, is evident. In a clinical interview, we want to ‘get inside the head’ of the student and observe their thought process for themselves. If we stay within ourselves completely without making every effort to see the world through the student’s eyes then this task is impossible. Ginsburg outlines specific steps to do this: garnering the respect and trust of the student, using his/her language, and exploring the student’s answers far in depth. Russ & Sherin remind us not to change the mind of the student, but rather, learn about them. No matter how wrong his/her explanation may be, our duty is to explore every thought and theory they have.
The representations discussed in Greeno & Hall are usless if they cannot transfer the correct information! These representations are only successsful if our students interpret them to express the same set of data/information that we intend them to. This is a challenge for us because we must understand the thoughts and mental processes of our students to accurately express this information through whatever representation that we choose. This, of course, makes the interview important, and in turn, makes our ability to ‘get on the level of the student’ just as important as well.
I think this is an extremely important skill to have, not only in understanding the thoughts of our students but also teaching and relating to them in general. In addition, sharpening these skills take much more than just looking to a list of good interviewing strategies. This starts at the very beginning of our relationships with students. It starts with getting to know them personally, understanding what excites or frustrates them, who they get along with, what they value and look for. This is a very daunting tasks for teachers and one that I am sure many teachers vehemently avoid. But it is one (challenging) part of teaching that I honestly cannot wait to immerse myself in.