In this activity, students work in pairs to create and stage critical interview-style conversations about their research and perform them in front of their classmates. This assignment works especially well near the end of a WR 151 class.


To engage in a vital conversation about our course topic and your research interests; to converse thoughtfully about your scholarship and to critically engage with the scholarship of others; to reframe your written research into a different format and genre; to develop critical questions and to formulate informed and credible answers to such questions; to work on your oral expression skills in a supportive environment.

Key Terms

oral communication; remediation of research; counter-arguments; audience awareness


  1. Work with a fellow classmate: In a staged oral performance in front of the class, both students will interview one another about their research this semester.
  2. Study your classmate’s research paper carefully and develop a series of questions that will engage the interviewee in a critical conversation on her research topic and process.
  3. Plan for the interview to take from 4-6 minutes.
  4. Respond thoughtfully and expressively about your research project in the conversation.
  5. Switch roles and stage another interview for the class (8-12 minutes total for both interviews).


You will be assessed on your

  • level of preparedness,
  • quality of your questions and answers,
  • liveliness of your conversation,
  • expressiveness of your presentation style.

We will elicit immediate feedback from your classmates, and you will receive a written assessment from your instructors.


  • Interviewer

1. Prepare remarks and questions ahead of time, but work from notes not a script. Familiarize; do not memorize.

2. Open with brief introductory remarks to set the context for the interview. For example, offer a brief biographical sketch and a summary of the research you will discuss. Plan a slate of questions (3-6) that has a logical progression. Consider the conversation as whole, not as a series of singular inquiries.

3. Always close by thanking the interviewee.

4. Start with an “ice-breaker” – a question that about the interviewee’s research that will put the interviewee at ease and elicit a personable response (e.g.: “What inspired you to pursue this topic?”; “Have you always been interested in Spike Lee’s movies?”).

5. Alongside your planned slate of questions, consider prompts and follow-up questions to ensure that you stimulate lively, expansive responses.

6. Be sure to challenge your interviewee at least once – not too many “softballs”! What are possible counter-arguments or alternative readings? Feel free to play devil’s advocate for the sake of a more critical conversation.

7. Use transitional phrases (e.g.: “That’s interesting…”; “I am glad you brought that up because it leads to my next question…”; “I had never thought of it that way…”; “OK. So, let me ask you this…”) to create a conversation, not just a series of questions and answers.

8. Think about using framed questions, where you pose a scenario or establish the context up-front before asking the question or soliciting a response.

  • Interviewee

1. Be expansive in your responses (avoid yes/no answers), but try not to digress. Allow your interviewer to solicit follow-ups or elaboration.

2. It is OK to challenge the premise of the question or reframe it before answering. You do not need to answer a question that you feel is a misrepresentation or uncomfortable.

3. Be personable. Use first name when responding.

4. Use fillers to transition and to allow yourself time to consider the question and plan your response (That’s an excellent question…”; “I hadn’t thought of it that way, let me try to explain my…”; “I agree, but let me add this…”).

5. Take your time. Do not rush through your answers. Maintain the tone and pace of a conversation, not strictly a Q&A.