Peeling The Onion

From our Design Research Methods class, some observations from an interviewing exercise.

The scenario was to conduct interviews in order to uncover opportunities in helping people to manage food, meals, nutrition, etc.

The question asked was
What are the challenges you face in meal preparation?

Of course, that question is flawed because it presumes that there are indeed challenges. This was evident when the respondent struggled with how to answer outside the frame of the question.

An alternative might be
Are there any challenges in meal preparation?
which is is more open-ended.

But better still is
What are your feelings about the experience of meal-preparation?
since it doesn’t put the label challenges into play. It would be important to understand the labels the person being interviewed places on the different aspects of their experience, and to use their terminology to probe further.

Also worth noting is that the original question came right off the sample interview guide I distributed. Sometimes the interview guide is a tool to document “questions you want answers to” rather than “questions you want to ask”; doing fieldwork involves a lot of translation back and forth between the two.


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