Qualitative Interviews with Head Start Preschool Teachers: Confidentiality and Interviews

The day had come. I had my questionnaire, the IRB informed consent form, a tape recorder, and my supervisor. Time to drive to the first of ten centers.

I anxiously drove to the first center in early November 2011. I was anxious because I didn’t know how the teachers would respond. After all, many of the New Hires wanted everything related to research and teacher retention to be anonymous; and although this research is still anonymous, I had to record the interviews, so that I could later bring them back and transcribe them.

I arrived at the first center and after signing in, I walked back to the first classroom and approached the lead teacher who happened to be filling out some paperwork. “Perfect,” I thought to myself, because this meant that the teacher was approachable since I wasn’t interrupting her lesson with the children.

I asked her if I could speak with her about a research project, while my supervisor takes her place in the classroom. This is an important step since the children have to be in a 1:10 ratio at all times. She agreed, and we walked into the hallway and down to a private room that I had set up, so that we could speak in privacy.

I reviewed the informed consent form. Her biggest concern was being audio recorded. I assured her that per the agreement with the IRB, I had to keep everything she said completely confidential and only members of the research team could have access to the interviews, which I informed her included my supervisor and myself. And emphasized that after the interviews had been transcribed, I would bring them to her for approval (to have the interviewee make sure I did in fact type the interview word-for-word and didn’t say anything that wasn’t on the recordings) and after she approved of the transcript, I would delete the audio file, since that would no longer be needed.

None of the questions asked any personal questions, so once typed, it would be impossible to know who said what, thus ensuring confidentiality. Also, the transcribed interviews would be stored in a locked office in a locked file cabinet, per IRB standards. Additionally, any time that an interviewee would use a person’s name, I would write in their position (i.e. Center Director, co-teacher, co-worker, child), thus ensuring confidentiality.

She agreed, and we were recording. The same happened for subsequent interviews at other schools, although some preschool teachers opted to not participate in the interview. All of those who decided to not participate did so because they didn’t want to be audio recorded for fear of getting into trouble.

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