Audio Interview as Writing Assignment

I recently gave a talk on presentation on incorporating an audio interview as a writing assignment into my first-year writing classroom. I’ve decided to make a bunch of the resources available to anyone who might not have attended, but are still interested. Below, I’m including a video of the talk, audio of the talk, the slideshow itself, a description of the assignment, and a few embedded student examples. Please feel free to comment or email me if you have any questions. Thanks. (Aaargh! The video doesn’t actually start until 32 seconds in. Waaay too much work to re-export the file. Sorry.)

As far as the audio file goes, before the presentation, we had a discussion of Cindy Selfe’s “The Movement of Air, the Breath of Meaning: Aurality and Multimodal Composing.” The more formal presentation picks up at about the 20:45 mark of the audio.

Streaming Audio:

Audio Download: MP3 File


Assignment Description:

For this assignment, you will interview another student in class about the work he or she does. That student will then interview you right back. Prior to the interviews, you’ll work together to negotiate some questions, so you know which questions you’ll be asking, and what questions you’ll be asked. There will also be some parameters that I will assign. Once you agree on the questions, you’ll conduct at least one practice interview. Then you’ll record your interview with the other person, you’ll edit their responses into a single piece, add a scripted and recorded introduction and upload the file to a social networking site. You’ll also write a short reflection on some of the choices you made along the way. The final audio text will be 7-9 minutes long*, and your written reflection will be at least 300 words.

The raw, unedited recording for this assignment will be due before midnight, April 2nd. This file will be a recording of your partner talking about her/his work (not you talking about it). You will upload this file to, and you’ll title it: “[Your Parnter’s Name] Raw Interview.” Then you will embed this Soundcloud text into a new post titled: “[Your Parnter’s Name] Raw Interview.” (no written reflection due on 10/30).

The final edited file and written reflection will be due before 11:59 pm, Thursday, April 16th. This file will be a “Remixing” and “Presentation” of your partner’s work. For this stage of the assignment, you’ll take your partner’s answers to his/her questions and you’ll edit them into a 7-9 minute audio text. The first part of the audio text will be your voice introducing us (your listening audience) to the person we will hear for the rest of the recording (your partner). After you introduce your partner, you’ll give us a preview of some of the things we will soon be hearing. You need to offer more than just the topic. Something more than just “You’re about to listen to Steve talk about what it’s like to be a house painter.” That might be a great place to start with your introduction, but you need to give us more than that. Just a brief preview. But try to present it in a way that stirs our interest. Remember to generate some sort of curiosity about Steve. For instance, what does Steve like most about being a house painter? If it’s something that we might not expect or something that needs more explanation, that would be a good place to start. Whatever you tell us we’re about to hear, just make sure it doesn’t sound boring. You might hint at something that we should want to know about house painters. You might suggest that we’re about to learn something about Steve or house painters that we wouldn’t have expected. After your introduction, we should hear your partner speaking… most likely her/his response to one of the interview questions. But remember, we won’t ever hear you asking the question. Just her/him talking about it. Then you move on to your partner’s next question. You might consider how you plan to convey that one question is done and the next one is beginning. Maybe a second or two of silence between questions. Maybe a litlte music. Maybe a sound effect or some appropriate noises. You’ll continue to do this until you have a piece that is 7-9 minutes long. Your piece will have to have some music and/or sound effects to open and close the piece (that is, before your introduction begins and after your partner says his/her final words.

To submit this assignment, you’ll upload it to your Soundcloud account. Then you’ll embed it as a new post on your blog. In both places, you should title it: “[Partner’s Name] talking about [his/her work] — An Interview by [Your name]”

The last part of this assignment (also due before 11:59 pm, Friday, April 18th), will be to post a reflection on this assignment on your blog. Minimum 300 words (total) responding to the following three questions: What did you find most satisfying about creating an audio text? What did you find most challenging about creating an audio text? If you could conduct your interview over again, how would you handle it differently? For each of these questions, of course, you’ll want to explain your answer.


The 7-9 minutes is a hard limit. The idea is that you’re shooting for 8 minutes, but you’ll have sixty seconds of leeway, either way. You’ll lose points for submitting something that is less than 7 minutes or more than 9 minutes.

(I’ll be providing more notes as they seem relevant to our class discussions.)

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