The Timeline Technique
The Timeline Technique can be used by interviewers to help interviewees by giving
them an intuitive way of organising their recall and reporting, which makes it easier
to organise their thoughts and reduces demands on working memory.
We use our ‘working memory’ to temporarily store and manage the information
required to carry out complex cognitive tasks such as reasoning, decision-making,
and organising recalled information. Working memory has a limited capacity and
can easily become overloaded. Recalling details about complex events that
happened over a period of time is difficult for most people because it places a lot
of demands on this working memory.
Compared to a ‘free recall’ technique (e.g., “tell me everything you can remember
about the events”), The Timeline Technique:
◾is easier for the interviewee because it supports the remembering process
◾typically yields more detail about descriptions of people, actions they took, sequences, and verbatim quotes
◾enables the interviewer to access a detailed initial understanding of the interviewee’s experiences over the relevant time period.
You can download the guide here. The guide will take five minutes to read.
If you are interested in reading some of the research behind the guide, please see this paper.
Copyright 2014 Hope