Students are required interview a key member (e.g. grandparent, mother, father, aunt/uncle) of his/her OWN family, and integrate a family theory into the assessment of his/her own family’s functioning. this individual should be at least one generation older than the student. Once the data is gathered from the interview, students are expected to summarize and identify the key themes (NOT QUESTION /ANSWER FORMAT) that emerged from the interview and concluding thoughts of the interview process. In other words, tell me a story while IDENTIFYING THE MAJOR THEMES that you gathered during the interview. You are expected to have a concluding paragraph that summarizes your reaction/reflection regarding the interview. All students are expected to submit the transcripts (interview notes) along with the essay.
A Guide for the Family Interview
The main rule of thumb for interview questions is to avoid close-ended questions; these are too narrow in scope, and they allow your interviewee an escape from truly answering the question.
When you ask a question, keep it vague—if you’re too specific, you will be guiding the whole discussion. You’ll be able to learn a lot more by letting the interviewee talk and follow memory trails in their own mind. You should also have several categories or subtopics ready to help them when they are stuck: if you ask them to tell you about their childhood, you can offer subtopics such as food, friends, games/activities, relationship with parents, relationship with siblings, etc. Remember that questions are not just for getting you answers, they are to lead the interviewee down a path that is comfortable. Once one memory is triggered, you will get more information than you expected, and probably not information you have specific questions about.
No matter how you conduct your interview, be sure you document it and save it properly so you can refer to it again and again and share it with your family. It much more interesting-for you and the interviewee-to talk about the stories and emotions behind the events in your family’s past. Use these questions as a springboard for planning your interview:
- What’s your first memory?
- Who’s the oldest relative you remember (and what do you remember about him or her)?
- How did your parents meet?
- Tell me about your childhood home.
- Describe your first job.
- What did you do with your first paycheck?
- What was your favorite job and why?
- Who are some of your heroes?
- Tell me about some of the places where you’ve been happiest.
- What haven’t we talked about that you’d like to discuss in the time we have left? (This is a good way to begin wrapping up the interview.)