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Recollecting Experience in Interviews: The Structure and Organization of Engineering 'Interview Talk'

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Methodological & Theoretical Contributions to Engineering Education 3

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1031.1 - 24.1031.13



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Paper Authors


Floraliza Bornilla Bornasal Oregon State University

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Floraliza B. Bornasal is a doctoral student in the School of Civil and Construction Engineering at Oregon State University. Her research is currently in engineering education focusing on the transference of expertise among working professionals and undergraduate students. Prior to pursuing her doctoral degree at OSU, she worked as an engineering intern and project inspector for Garfield County Public Works and as an AmeriCorps Volunteer-in-Service-to-America (VISTA) aiding in community-building and data gathering for a low income community in Spokane, WA. She received her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Saint Martin’s University and her master’s degree in civil engineering - with a focus in transportation - at Oregon State University.
Address: School of Civil and Construction Engineering, 211 Kearney Hall, 1491 SW Campus Way, Corvallis, OR 97331 Phone: 509-499-5187 Email:

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Jessica Nina Lester Indiana University


Shane A. Brown P.E. Oregon State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Brown is an Associate Professor in the School of Civil and Construction Engineering at Oregon State University. His research focuses on cognition and learning in engineering mechanics with students, faculty, and practicing engineers. He is the recipient of the NSF CAREER Award in 2011 and multiple research and teaching awards.

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The role of recollection of experience to the organization and structure of engineering ‘interview talk’The use of interviews as a means for gathering data in hopes of gaining insight into issues ofinterest (e.g. conceptual understanding, relevant contexts, personal epistemologies, etc.) iswidely utilized within engineering education research. Such research delve into whatengineering experts and novices say in hopes interpreting meanings, intention, andunderstanding. This research paper approaches the interview from a different perspective.Instead of examining what is being said, this research delves into how interview participantsspeak and relay information within the context of an interview. Drawing from a specificperspective in discourse analysis (i.e. conversation analysis), this study provides analysis andinterpretation regarding engineers’ recollection of experiences during ‘interview talk’ in relationto sequential and preference/dispreference organization. Using detailed transcripts and audiorecordings of clinical, semi-structured interviews with engineering practitioners and academicinstructors, the ways in which recollections of experience functioned within the structure of talk-in-interaction is examined in detail. Three patterns of sequence organization were displayed inthe analyzed transcripts: adjacency pair with sequence closing thirds, adjacency pair with post-completion musings, and adjacency pairs with non-minimal post expansions. Further, thelocation of recollection of experiences within these patterns of sequence organization appeared tobe related to whether the engineers attempted to mitigate their responses, delay giving an answer,or perform other actions that indicate preference or dispreference (as noted by CA researcherslike Schegloff and Sacks) through the ongoing conversation with an interviewer. These findingsnote a common structure of talk that occurs within a commonly encountered context inengineering education research. By providing insight into the structure of talk-in-interaction, thisstudy provides a means for analyzing interview data from a theoretical and methodologicalperspective emerging within engineering education research. Further, the findings from thisstudy provide awareness of another level of interpretation regarding interview data beyond whatis being said into understanding how interaction occurs between two individuals participating inclinical, semi-structured interviews.

Bornasal, F. B., & Lester, J. N., & Brown, S. A. (2014, June), Recollecting Experience in Interviews: The Structure and Organization of Engineering 'Interview Talk' Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22964

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