Repertory Grid Interview


This is a board to facilitate repertory grid interviews for education research.

I used this grid to interview participants in my research on the potential of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) with the Centre for Global Higher Education at UCL.

I wanted to find out how MOOC participants experienced learning on a MOOC. However, this is not easy to articulate, so I needed an interview technique to prompt participants to reflect on how they learned.

This led to the choice of the Repertory Grid Technique (based on Kelly's personal construct theory of personality). A construct can be understood as, from an individual's perspective, two or more things that are considered to be alike and, therefore different from another thing.

The technique requires participants to provide up to 4 'elements' within the domain to be investigated (in my case, examples of MOOCs they have taken. These MOOCs are given short names, e.g. "History MOOC" or "Social Media MOOC," which are written on a series of notes on the repertory board. The notes are arranged in piles above the board, along with a pile of notes with the name "my ideal course."

The participants are then asked to provide a construct (a way they understand the domain under investigation) by saying how two of these elements were similar to each other but different from another. For example, a participant might say that two of the MOOCs they had enrolled in felt very social because they had a lot of peer discussion, whereas they felt quite isolated on another MOOC with no discussion.

In the above example, the facilitator would then write the two extremes of the construct "social" and "isolating" underneath the columns "common" and "different" on either side of the repertory grid.

The participant is then invited to drag the elements (names of the MOOCs) onto the board (or the facilitator does this for them) to indicate where they fall between the two poles of the construct.

The participant is then asked to identify where their ideal element (in my case their ideal course) would lie, by dragging the "my ideal [element]" note onto the board.

This process repeats until the board is complete.

I recorded each interview and was interested not only in the resulting construct poles but also in how the repertory grid process prompted the participants to reflect on their experience of learning on a MOOC.

You can use this board for your repertory grid interviews irrespective of the domain you want to investigate.


Eileen Kennedy image
Eileen Kennedy
Principal Research Fellow@UCL
Eileen Kennedy is a Principal Research Fellow at UCL Knowledge Lab, where she is exploring the transformative potential of digital technologies in higher and professional education. Her research focuses on developing learning design tools, scaling up online collaborative learning (e.g. through CoMOOCs or Co-designed Massive Open Online Collaborations) and researching the experience online learning. Eileen works with the Centre for Global Higher Education and the RELIEF Centre,
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