Three Step Interview

Purpose:  To engage students in conversation for the purpose of analyzing and synthesizing new information.

Description:  The Three Step Interview is a cooperative structure that helps students personalize their learning and listen to and appreciate the ideas and thinking of others.  Active listening and paraphrasing by the interviewer develops understanding and empathy for the thinking of the interviewee.


1.     Students work in pairs.  One is the interviewer, the other is the interviewee.  The interviewer listens actively to the comments and thoughts of the interviewee, paraphrasing key points and significant details.

2.     Student pairs reverse roles, repeating the interview process.

3.     Each pair then joins another pair to form groups of four.  Students introduce their pair partner and share what the partner had to say about the topic at hand.

Sample Three Step Interview Topics:

1.     Present a very challenging filter/sort combination problem to the students.  Allow them to use the interview to discuss possible solutions.

2.     Present students with an ethical situation related to privacy and the internet.  Allow students to use the interview as a means of discussing the different components of the issues at hand.

3.     Provide students a short (4-5 words) list of vocabulary to be reviewed.  In the interview, they are to explain the definitions and applications of the words.  By regrouping with the other interview pair, appropriate student use of vocabulary will be reinforced.

Lipton, L., & Wellman, B. (1998).  Patterns and practices in the learning-focused classroom.  Guilford, Vermont: Pathways Publishing.


from Instructional Strategies for Engaging Learners
Guilford County Schools TF, 2002

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