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Your goal in this assignment is to interview a senior person to produce life history information and a needs assessment. A life history interview allows us to learn about human development by interviewing someone and learn about the variety of experiences that have affected their life. This is more than a retelling of the interview, other than collecting the necessary information, your role is to learn about another life, to learn from this person, and to be taught by him or her. Giving that informants are human beings with problems, concerns, and interests, it is important to be non-judgemental if your values may not coincide with your informant.

Select an Informant: As you will not have much time, it may be best to interview your grandmother, grandfather, relative, friend, or a client you are working with.It can be advantageous to choose someone you know since you already have rapport with them. This will be helpful because you will get to know each other better through the interview process. But interviewing someone close to you can be problematic if the person does not feel comfortable about revealing himself or herself within the context of your ongoing relationship. An information letter will be provided by the instructor for you to introduce this assignment.

Be careful to choose someone with whom you can follow-up and can continue the digital story. If you do not know anyone you can interview, try to ask a friend about older relatives that may be available for interviewing. If you have problems identifying someone, come talk to me.

Conducting an Interview:Your goal in interviewing the person is to get them to talk about their life.Do not ask questions that can be answered with a yes or no.It is often easiest to begin by collecting concrete and neutral information although you never know what is neutral for a person.Asking about places they lived, schools they attended, jobs they held, people they lived with is usually a good way to begin.You can guide them by age, if you desire.Here are the samples of questions that you could consider asking:

  • Early Childhood and Family Background:
  • Teenage Years
  • Adulthood
  • Later Adulthood
  • When and where were you born?
  • Tell me about your parents or your family background.
  • Where was your family originally from?
  • How many children were in the family, and where were you in the line-up?
  • What is your earliest memory of home/family?
  • Describe the community you grew up in.
  • Where did you go to elementary school?
  • What was school like for you?What did you like about it?What was hard for you?
  • Who were your best friends and what did you do when you got together?Do you still keep in touch with any of them?
  • What’s the largest town you remember visiting when you were young?Can you describe your impressions of it?
  • What were your favourite subjects? Particular interests?
  • Did you have any memorable teachers? Describe their teaching styles. How did they influence you?
  • What were your plans when you finished school?Education?Work?Military?
  • Who were your friends?What did you do together?What individuals did you spend the most time with during this period?
  • What were your hobbies/interests?What books did you read?What music did you listen to? What sports did you play?What crafts did you participate in?
  • Education:
    • Did you continue your formal education after high school?If so, where?
    • What major(s) did you pursue?
  • Work and Career
  • Family life:
  • Hobbies and Social Life
  • What was your first job?
  • What kinds of job have you had?
  • How did you decide on your career?
  • Did you serve during wartime?How did the war change you?
  • What lessons has your work life taught you?
  • When and where did you meet your partner? What drew you to him/her?
  • What was originally the most difficult for you about being married/being in a relationship? What was most satisfying?
  • Describe the birth of your children.
  • What were they each like when they were young? How have they changed or not changed?
  • What were their relationships with each other and with you like when they were young? Now?
  • What activities did the family do together?
  • What family traditions did you try to establish?
  • What was the most satisfying to you about raising children? What was the most difficult?
  • What values did you try to raise your children with? How did you go about doing that?
  • How has being a parent changed you?
  • What did you do in your spare time?
  • Who were your friends?What did you do together?
  • What major illnesses or health problems do you remember having?
  • What major event do you remember the most?
  • What are your current interests and hobbies?How did you become involved in them?
  • How many close friends do you have? How often do you have contact with these friends? What do you do with these friends?(e.g. activities such as going for lunch, having tea, exercising, social activities, talk on the phone, email)
  • What has provided you the greatest satisfaction in life?
  • How would you say the world has changed since you were young?
  • How is the world different now from when you were a child?
  • What was the happiest moment of your life?

You don’t need to follow and ask all the above questions. You can add and revise questions based on your own interests and needs. Remember that people often jump around in recounting their life, moving effortlessly from teenage years to their first birthday to getting laid off their job to breaking a neighbour’s window with a baseball.Be patient and do not push people too hard.You can always sort the chronology out later, so do not constantly admonish them to put it in the right order.

Do not interrupt except to ask for clarifications or expansions (“Can you tell me more about that?”).If you ask them to elaborate, but see signs of discomfort, hang back.Despite you best efforts, if your interview does bring up serious issues for someone then back off and inform your instructor.It is extremely unlikely that you will have such a problem if you allow the interviewee to be in control of the process, so they can choose what to tell you and what to keep private.

Life History Summary

The students will be required to write one 3-5 pages summary about the person’s life as obtained through your interview and your plan to digital story.

Introduction: Your report should begin by explaining briefly how you found the person to interview and why you chose him or her.Describe where and when the interview occurred, as well as anything interfered with the process of interview. How did you record the information?How did you take the information and arrange it into a summary?In other words, state your research methods. (2.5 points)

Life history: Then briefly present the person’s life history.It must be based on and faithful to what they told you, but do not just submit your notes.You must turn it into a well-written account of the person’s life covering the senior’s early child experience and family background (2 points), teen age years (2 points), young and middle adulthood (2 points), later adulthood (2 points) such as significant places, persons, events, major life transitions, careers, and culture background. The report could reflect how history and culture has shaped the senior’s life. (8 points)

Ideas for Digital Story: Finally, concluding the life history by answering these questions for your life digital story: What do you want to present through the story? What impact might your story have on other people? How to present the story through digital technologies? Who is your audience? What challenges and difficulties might you meet and what strategies you and your interviewee will be used to solve those challenges?(2.5 points)

Writing (organization, APA format, double spaced, 12 font size, language and grammar) (2 points)

When you summarize the life history, please remember ethical safeguards for your informant, including the possible necessity of giving the person a fictitious name, unless you have the full permission to use the real name and all the details in the story.

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