The interview Assignment and Cohort


This assignment is designed to allow you to gain experience using the interview method and to allow you to explore the effects of differences between ages of individuals under study (cohort effects).

The assignment has three parts:

  • Part A involves developing interview questions and answering the interview questions yourself.
  • Part B involves interviewing another person at least 10 years older or younger than yourself.
  • Part C asks you to examine cohort effects and examine the interview method as a research tool.

To get started with this assignment, find someone to interview. There should be at least a 10-year difference (older or younger) between you and the interviewee. You may decide to do the interview face-to-face, but since this course offers you the ability to interact with classmates online, you could also ask one of your classmates to be your interviewee. (If you have any difficulty finding someone to interview, ask your instructor for help).


You will begin the assignment by developing interview questions and responding to those interview questions as if you were being interviewed.  The information below and the marking guidelines for the assignment should help you as you develop the questions. (Part A). This will allow you to collect one part of the data and will also give you practice with the interview points and questions.

Next, you will collect more data on aging and development by interviewing the person who is at least 10 years older or younger than you and therefore in another age cohort. (Part B).

You will complete the assignment by summarizing the data from both interviews, and then answering three questions in Part C.

Part A – Answering the interview questions

Begin the assignment by answering the interview points from your perspective. The information that you need to gather is outlined in the next section. As you answer the questions, you may also want to write down any changes you want to make when asking the question to your interviewee.

Part B – The interview

The interview should take approximately 30 minutes to complete, but you may want to allow 45 to 60 minutes for completion. Why? It is important to establish rapport with the interviewee for a successful and comfortable interview, andyou must also be open to responding to any questions following the interview.

The interview should follow a semi-structured format with a combination of direct and open-ended questions. Here is the information that you need to gather for the assignment:


  1. Demographic information

    Include age, gender, marital status, family background, cultural background, and socioeconomic factors.

  2. A brief history of the person’s life

    You want to be able to summarize this into about 10 points of history of the person’s life, so you may want to ask about where the person was born, where they grew up, where they went to school, where they had their first job, where they work or study now, what recreational activities they enjoy, etc.

  3. Everyday life

    Ask what life was like at key times or ages in the person’s life, for example when they were 5 years old, when they were 10 years old, when they were 15 years old, 20 years old, 30 years old, 40 years old, and so on.

  4. A Significant life event

    Sometimes an event happens that appears to significantly alter the course of our life. Was there any one event (or a series or events) that had a significant impact on the interviewee’s life? What was the event? How old was the interviewee at the time? How did that event change his/her life?

  5. Advice

    What advice can the person give for the youth of today?

Part C – Summary and analysis

After the interview, complete the following questions:


  1. Cohort effects

    Given the age of your interviewee, what were the major world/societal events that happened during the person’s life that could have had an impact on their development, and at what age did the event occur? (Examples include WWII, the Great Depression, the Cold War, racism, sexism, the post-war family structure, the impact of television/media/computers/internet, social media, healthcare, the sexual revolution, the women’s movement, space exploration, nuclear power/bombs, residential schools for aboriginal peoples, 9/11, etc.)

    How do you think these or any other events affected your interviewee’s life history? If you don’t think these events had any effect, why not?

  2. The interview method

    Discuss at two positive and two negative features of the interview method for gathering scientific data. You will have to reference your textbook and other sources that you consulted, at the end of the paper.  What is your opinion of the usefulness of this method and why?

  3. The questions

    If you could have added one more question to the interview, what would it have been? Why would this have been an important question to ask?

Completing the assignment

The assignment should be separated and labelled as follows:

Part A: Questions 1 – 5 The summarized interview with you as the subject

Part B: Questions 1 – 5 The summarized interview from your interviewee

Part C: Questions 6 – 8 Your interpretation of the data

Assignment 2 must be typed and double-spaced, using 12-point font. All assignments must use APA style citations when referencing your sources, both within the text and at the end of the assignment or paper.

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