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Teaching Strategies: The Three-Step Interview

Janelle Cox

Are you looking to enhance student participation in your classroom? The three-step interview learning teaching strategies are an effective way to help students process what they are learning in a cooperative learning atmosphere. Not only will they learn to work with others to complete their task, but they will also be developing essential life skills like active listening and communication. Here we will take a look at these teaching strategies, the benefits of using them with your students, and how you can use them in your classroom.

Teaching Strategies: Three-Step Interview

The three-step interview strategy is a cooperative learning technique that focuses on developing students’ active listening skills, and helps to develop their note-taking skills and the ability to share information with others. Essentially, it’s a fun way to encourage students to ask questions, share their thinking, and take notes. The strategy is mainly composed of question-and-answer sessions where one student is the interviewer and another is the interviewee. However, there is a third student who is actively listening and taking notes during the interview. The strategy is designed as a fun cooperative learning method to help students become more engaged and interested in their learning.

The Steps:

  1. Place students into groups of three.
  2. Assign each student a role: Interviewer, interviewee, note-taker.
  3. Rotate roles after each interview.
  4. Have students take turns sharing the information that they recorded when they were the note-taker.

The Benefits:

  • Encourages students to use their critical thinking skills.
  • Gives students the chance to voice their own opinions.
  • Encourages students to question as well as generate answers.
  • Enhances students’ active listening skills.
  • Promotes communication skills.
  • Fosters student accountability.

Classroom Management Tips

Here are a few classroom management tips and ideas to help you implement the three-step interview strategy into your classroom.

  • Questioning – Teachers should provide a general topic or main question for which the students can form their “Interview” questions around. For example, if the teacher topic is “Mammals,” then the students can form questions around that such as “What is your favorite mammal?”, “What do you think mammals eat?” and so on.
  • Interviewing – Before sending students into groups as the interview, they must first know how to interview. Try role playing with students beforehand or show them a video of an interview to get them familiar with the process.
  • Timing – The age of your students will determine the length of time for each interview. Also keep in mind that each interviewer needs a few minutes to prepare questions beforehand. After the interview is conducted, students need time to share. The best method for timing is to set an alarm and when it goes off the students know they have completed their task.
  • Recording – Consider giving students a record sheet to write down their notes and interview questions.
  • Sharing – Use the round-robin format for sharing information learned in the interview.
  • Numbers – It’s wise to have students count off to the three. For the first round, all of the number ones will be the interviewer, the twos will be the interviewee, and the threes will be the note-takers. Once the first interview is completed, students rotate and the number ones get to be the interviewee, and so on.
  • Social Skills – Before sending the groups off to complete their task, first give them a few social skill tips, like what the appropriate noise level should be, how to have patience when waiting your turn, and how to be a good active listener when they are the interviewer and the note-taker.

Many educators have found the three-step interview strategy to be a great way to enhance student learning and participation. Be sure to use this powerful strategy in your classroom to ensure your students will benefit from it.

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Do you use the three-step interview teaching strategies in your classroom? Please feel free to share your experiences with their cooperative learning technique, we would love to hear from you.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.