Streaming is the process where children are separated into different ability groups or classes, and then each ability group is taught separately from the others for all subjects. There are many problems with this, firstly it can cause a self-fulfilling prophecy meaning a prediction made about a person or group comes true simply because it has been made. For example a teacher could predict a student will fail their upcoming exams, and then the student does fail because they believe the predication made is true and therefore live up to the expectation of it. Linking this to streaming means that the pupils in the higher streams will believe that they are going to pass because of the expectations the teachers have whereas the students placed in lower streams will believe that they are going to fail because of the status of the stream they are in.
Interpretivists may use unstructured interviews in their studies of streaming. One practical advantage of using unstructured interviews with streaming is the interviewer can explore the pupil’s feelings and see firsthand their reactions to the questions asked. Thus therefore gives the interviewer a more accurate understanding of how different questions affect different people. For example if an interviewer was to ask a more grammatical question to a pupil in a higher stream there first stage response before saying anything, therefore their facial expression will be a lot different to a pupil in a lower stream as the question asked may not be understood as much.
On the other hand there are also disadvantages of using unstructured interviews whilst studying streaming, is that the interviewer is more likely to change the wording of the questions for lower streams therefore causing many problems with the interviewee as if the pupils compare the questions asked they will know they have been asked different ones because of the stream they are in. One problem that this can cause is that the pupils that are being interviewed could refuse to participate due to the stereotypical and subjective view point of the interviewer meaning that there won’t be a variety of results gathered.
Another practical advantage of unstructured interviews in streaming is that the interviewer has more scope to clear up any misunderstandings by re-wording questions or being able to explain their meaning. This is more practical than using structured interviews because the interviewer has the chance to allow the pupils to ask questions in order to get an understanding of what the interviewer is asking them. Furthermore, this allows lower ability students to answer the right question meaning that the results collected are going to be more relevant than the results that could have been found whilst doing structured interviews.
In contrast a disadvantage for using unstructured interviews in streaming is the representativeness of the pupils as the pupils in lower may not want to be a part of the research as they know that they are comparing them to the students in the higher streams. There could also be ethical problems with this as many parents of the lower streamed pupils also may not want their pupils being interviewed as it could affect there confidence. There are also practical problems in arranging and carrying out a large enough number of unstructured interviews to be able the make their research representative of all the pupils in different streams.
Unstructured interviews may overcome barriers of power and status inequality. Their informality can establish rapport more