Drawing from recent surveys and studies, this study posits that survey research approaches are quite limited for investigating the problem of minority student retention in higher education. Survey research emphasizes standardized procedures, experimental control, quantitative measures and statistical analysis, resulting often in the role of language being ignored. This calls, asserts the author, for alternative approaches embodying the view that interview is a form of discourse. The contrast between this view and mainstream survey interviewing is used to develop a framework for systematic exposition of the alternatives. One such approach is the focus-group method, a variation of the depth interview.