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Governors State University Semi Structured Interview Senior Capstone

Governors State University Semi Structured Interview Senior Capstone

Question Description

Below is the semi-structured interview guide that we just received approval on from the principals and superintendent (ironically). I want each member of the group to interview one female and one male high school student, aged 13-18, using this guide. You do not have to interview them in person, you can do this over the phone or by Skype or other online format similar to it. Interview a relative, friend, friend’s sibling, whatever. If you want, do a practice run on a friend to make sure it runs smoothly. Take notes, type them up and give each interviewee a code (for example, I would use my initials and a number, CJ 1 and CJ 2). Then discuss with your group whether you want to use Google Sheets or Excel to record the data for the group. This will entail creating variable names (for example, questions on the home and who lives there can be named HOMEFAM) and coding answers (mother could be coded 1, father coded 2, aunt coded 3, etc.)

During the Interview:

If a youth discloses to you that he/she has been harmed by someone, is the victim of abuse, or intends to harm his/herself or others, you will need to tell the youth that you need to report this information to the appropriate officials. [Council and schools:What is the policy?]

If a youth seems uncomfortable with any question, be sure to let him/her know that he/she does not have to answer any question that he/she does not want to answer.

Pay attention to your body language.Do not give your opinions, don’t agree or disagree with answers, avoid gestures that would indicate approval or disapproval.Remember you are not judging responses, only recording them.

If you do not understand a response, ask for clarification.Some great probing questions:Can you tell me more?Can you be more specific?What do you think?Can you give me an example?

In margins, note youth’s body language, attitude.Note any distractions during the course of the interview.

When taking notes, please indicate any exact quotes with quotations.

Questions in italics after the main question are probes for exploration into the topic.


  1. Name of interviewer__________________________________
  2. Date and time of interview _____________________________
  3. Location____________________________________________


  1. Respondent number ________________________________
  1. Age of Respondent ­________________________________
  1. Year in School ­________________________________

For the following, ask respondent how they wish to identify:

  • Sex (circle):MaleFemale Other:_________________
  1. Race of Respondent: ________________________________


We are trying to get a feeling for how things are going at your school.

  • What extra-curricular activities are you involved in at school?
  • Are there activities you wish the school had?If so, what?
    • Why would this activity be important to students?
  • How does the school deal with bullying?
    • Are you satisfied with this approach?Why/why not?
    • Do you know someone who has been bullied?
      • Can you tell me about it?
      • What are your thoughts on how this was handled by everyone involved?
      • What do you think should be done?
  • Do you think students feel safe at school?
    • Can you explain your answer?
    • If not safe:What could be done to make it safer?
  • Would you say there is a problem with drug use at the school?
    • Probe:Can you explain your answer?
    • If yes, what do you think could be done to solve this problem?
  • How is your attendance at the school?
    • Would you say the same is true for most students you know?Please explain.
    • Why do you think attendance is high/low?
  • Are there gang members in school?
    • Probe:How do you know this?Can you tell me a bit more?
    • Male/Female students, both?
    • Is it a problem?
      • If yes, how so?
      • If no, why not?
    • Why do you think they are involved in gangs?
  • Is it easy for you to see a school counselor?
    • Probes:Is the counselor readily available?Do you know where to go or how to make an appointment?
    • Would you feel comfortable going to Mr./Ms. _________ if you had a problem?
      • Why or why not?
  • Is high school preparing you for the future?
    • How so?
    • What do you want to do in the future?
  • Tell me about your family life.
  • Is it fun to hang out at home?
  • Do you ever feel like you need to leave the house?
  • Who stays with you?
    • Try to get an idea of who stays permanently and who might be there temporarily, ages, sex, etc.Are both parents there?Or is there a guardian?
    • What do they do?Work/School?
  • Do your parent(s)/guardian(s) check in with what you are doing at school?
    • What about school specifically?Homework/Activities/Friends
    • Does everyone in your household get along?Have youth explain as much as comfortable.
  • How do you get to and from school?
    • Probes:feeling safe, reliable transportation
    • Whose home when they leave/return
  • Would you say you get enough sleep?
    • Enough to eat?
  • What is your favorite thing about your home life?
    • Least favorite?
  • Describe your community (helpful:Describe it to me like I am a new kid in the neighborhood).
    • Probes:safety, causes of stress, crime, access to youth activities
  • What is your favorite thing about your neighborhood.
    • Least favorite?
  • What do you think your community could improve upon?
    • Why?
  • How many close friends would you say you have? (Can rely on them, trust them with secrets, talk to them about private problems)
  • How would you say they are doing in school?
    • Probes:grades, activities, support from teachers/staff, at-risk behaviors (truancy, drugs, gangs, illegal activities).
  • How would you say they are doing at home?
    • Probes:parents/guardians, supported, safety, basic necessities
  • What are your friends involved in at school?
  • Do your friends support you doing well in school or activities?
    • How so?
  • What is something kids often get pressured into doing?
    • Does that happen to you?What have you done about it?
  • What does it mean to be independent and how independent should you be?
  • How is discipline handled in your school?
  • Do you think this addresses the problem?
    • Why or why not?
    • If no, how should it be handled?
  • How is discipline handled at home?
  • Do you think this addresses the problem?
    • Why or why not?
    • If no, how should it be handled?
  • What do you worry about?
    • Do you worry a lot about this?
    • Why is this a concern for you?
    • What do you think you are able to do about it?
  • Do you ever feel depressed?
    • What do you think causes it?
    • What do you think you are able to do about it?
  • What are life’s challenges?
    • How do you address them?
    • Probes:Feels capable, feels hopeless, feels supported
  • What motivates you?
    • Probes:at school, in life, to do better
  • Where do you want to be in ten years?
    • Probes:Education, Work, Family, Disposition
  • What do you think causes kids to break the law?
  • Why do some kids choose not to?
  • What could the school do to help?
  • What could your community do to help?
  • What could Cook County Southland Juvenile Justice Council do?
    • Remind youth that this is who this research is for.


I want to remind you again that if you do not feel comfortable answering any questions, you don’t have to.If you want to know why I am asking a question, don’t hesitate to ask me.






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