The Timeline Technique

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