Small Group Communication Activities

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Interviewing a Classmate

English 150: Interviewing a Classmate

Interviewing an individual and including quotes and paraphrases in a paper often makes an essay more interesting. An interview is referred to as a primary source since you are obtaining the interview firsthand. Later in the course, you will use secondary sources in which you quote or paraphrase from articles. For this assignment, do the following:

Prior to the Interview

  • Read pp. 564-570 in Writing in a Visual Age.
  • Refer to the notes from class on interviewing strategies before, during, and after the interview.
  • Your teacher will assign you to a classmate to interview.
  • Compose questions for the classmate. Be sure to include open-ended questions rather than questions requiring a “yes”-“no” response or a short answer. Think of questions which will help you get to know and understand the person more thoroughly.
  • Rearrange the questions so they are in a logical order and so they move from an easy to a more challenging level.

During the Interview

  • Interview the classmate in an informal manner so both of you are feeling relaxed. If your classmate adds to a response by answering a question you were planning to ask later, feel free to rearrange the order of your questions.
  • Take notes during the interview. (A mini-tape recorder is OK to use but isn’t necessary.)

After the Interview

  • Following the interview, look at your notes and rewrite some of the hard-to-read jottings.
  • At the bottom of your notes add some observational comments such as the individual’s dress, body language, facial features, uniqueness, etc.
  • Look through the interview notes and highlight some of the best quotes or information.
  • Decide upon an arrangement for the interview essay and list the main topics in a mini-outline.
  • Decide upon a way to obtain the reader’s attention in the opening lines.
  • Compose the interview essay, including paraphrases, partial quotes (a phrase), and full quotes (complete sentences). The interview story must be written in paragraph form.
  • Ask the classmate any follow-up questions.
  • Add some of the observational traits such as dress, body language, posture, etc.
  • Ask peers to read and respond to your interview story.
  • Turn in all of your work (questions, notes, outline, drafts, polished copy).

Note: If you wish, you may include a graphic with your interview such as a digital photo or a drawing of the individual.

Some Evaluation Criteria:

  • features an attention-getting lead paragraph.
  • includes a variety of paraphrasing, partial quotes (phrases), and full quotes (sentence quotes).
  • provides an observational description of the classmate.
  • follows a logical format with transitions.
  • is appropriately organized into paragraphs.
  • contains few errors in correctness.