Developing Interrogatories to Aid Analysis,
Problem-Solving and Conflict Resolution
Edward G. Rozycki, Ed. D.
An interrogatory is a set of questions composed and structured to yield consistent and comparable results within a given discipline, field of inquiry or practice.
Typically, the questions of an interrogatory are sequenced so as to maintain certain dependencies.* For example, an interrogatory for investigating a dispute for the possibility of reconciliation might consist of five questions:
a. Reality of conflict: can the dispute be formulated as a yes-no question resting on a logical or physical impossibility? If it's not an either-or issue, it is hasty to assume there is a dispute at hand.
b. Partisanship: are there actual parties who take opposite sides in the dispute? Again, if people do not take sides, where is the dispute?
c. Understanding: do the parties to the dispute understand the terms of the dispute to mean the same thing? This is fundamental and critical. If we mean different things, say, by the words "too much", then we should try to clear up what the differences are, rather than get involved in contentiousness. (See Operationalization)
d. Authority on Fact: do the parties to the dispute recognize common authorities (or authoritative procedures) for settling what they call issues of fact? This is why people in the U.S. seldom, especially with strangers, get involved in religious arguments.
e. Shared Values: do the parties to the dispute share common values for the sake of which reconciliation can be effected? A difference in values held may be at the bottom of the dispute, but we can't determine this until the earlier questions have been dealt with.
Note that each question presumes an appropriate answer to the one preceding it. The order of the questions is important because it affects not only efficiency of the solution procedure, but often the very solvability of the problem.
For example, it would be very inefficient to begin, as many people do, by trying to address value differences, if prior issues of reality of conflict, partisanship, understanding, and factual authority have not been addressed. This would be like trying to build a roof for a house whose foundation had not been laid.
The links below take you to interrogatories that have been developed in the context of articles that address certain kinds of conflicts in a variety of fields. The relevant questions may be isolated as sets, or embedded in a framework of presentation and explanation, as, for example, in a questionnaire.
|Analyze a Policy|
|Analyze a Problem|
|Assessing Role and Commitment (a scaling device)|
|Develop a Rationale for Intervention|
|Evaluate a "Best Practice"|
|Evaluate and Employ an Ethical Principle|
|Evaluate a Mission Statement|
|Evaluate a Theory|
|Evaluate Teaching Efficiency|
|Expand a Program|
|Identifying your Preferred Kind of School.|
|Identify Change Resistance in an Organization|
|Measure an Item of Concern|
|Plan a conference|
|Promote Organizational Change|
|Reform a School or School System|
|Reverse a Policy|
|Sorting Out Philosophies|
Exercise: Pick two items from the above chart and develop an explicit interrogatory for it. (Hint: some are already done; others have to be extracted and organized.) Does the interrogatory you developed require a certain order to be answerable? (See "Analyzing Controversy," listed above, for such an explicitly ordered interrogatory.)
*The questions of an interrogatory may be complexly ordered by means of a, say, flowchart which allows for repetitions or jumps based on certain contingencies. See "Analyze a Problem," listed above, for example.