Writing this paper/Getting a good grade
- Write this in paper format, not in interview format. Organize your sections clearly.
- Do not wait until the last minute. This paper takes thought, organization, and time.
- Describe each interviewee in turn; compare and contrast the life stages, based on SPECIFICS derived from the interviews. Most important:
- CONTINUALLY RELATE THE MATERIAL TO WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED IN THIS COURSE. Use terms and ideas discussed in class. The point of this exercise is to demonstrate your knowledge of this course. Your grade will depend upon how well you incorporate the material learned this semester into your paper.
- Check your writing and edit it carefully for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. If you need extra help with this, please take your paper to the WRIT Center in the LLIC for assistance. You will be graded down if there are significant errors, no matter how good your content is.
This project involves interviews with three people at widely separate points on the lifespan:
1. An older child, teenager, or emerging adult (i.e., roughly age 9 to early twenties)
2. A person in the prime adult years (30s to 65-ish)
3. An elderly person (65+).
Paper should be approximately 7 pageslong. If you need to make it longer, feel free. Keep a copy in your computer, or saved on a flash drive.
Spend about an hour questioning each person. Take notes or record your interviews. HOWEVER, MAKE SURE EACH PARTICIPANT WOULD FEEL COMFORTABLE BEING RECORDED.
Begin by describing the purpose of the interview: “I want to find out what being an X-year-old is like. What are your concerns at this time of life? What is important to you at this age? What are the good and bad points about your time of life? This interview is for my paper in developmental psychology. Anything you tell me will be confidential. I will not use your name. Please feel free not to answer any questions and to conclude the interview whenever you wish.”
In collecting your qualitative data and writing your paper, use these guidelines:
Demographic data/informal observations
For each person:
- Note age, sex, and other identifying information (e.g. “10-year-old girl, attends sixth grade in a public school;” “single college student age 22;” “mother of four with children aged X, Y, Z;” “divorced grandmother, has X children, and X grandchildren).
- Describe the person’s appearance and manner. Is she well groomed, attractive, overweight? Does she seem happy, depressed? Are there specific things that stand out visually about her? For a young teenager, where is she with regard to pubertal development? For an older adult, how does she seem to be functioning, physically, cognitively? How does the person respond to you? Does she seem guarded, anxious, delighted to talk? Do some topics seem very emotional for her? How comfortable do you and she feel during this interview?If you conduct your interview in the person’s home, note anything of interest.
SUGGESTED questions for an older child, teenager, or emerging adult. Cover each general topic. There is no need to ask every question. Your goal is “go with the flow,” letting your respondent set the pace and elaborate on the issues that are meaningful to them.
- Physical functioning and body concerns: Tell me about your physical abilities, your health, and appearance. Do you play a sport, exercise, work out, watch what you eat? If so, how important are these activities in your life? Now tell me about your feelings about your looks. Is looking attractive a number one priority for you? What do you do to keep looking attractive/physically fit? When you look into the future how do see yourself changing physically at age 20, or 40 or 60? Are there any special concerns you want to discuss in this area? (Note: Do not address sensitive topics such as sexuality, pubertal development, or eating disorders; but listen carefully and take notes if the person does bring these issues up!) Now think about the other kids, or people your age. How important is looks/fitness/ being good at sports in general at your age?
- Intellectual abilities and educational experiences: Tell me about your intelligence, your special talents and skills. Do you feel as if you are a bright person? In which areas do you shine? When you look to the future, how do you see yourself growing and changing intellectually in 20, 40, 60 years? How are you doing in your different classes? How do you feel about your teachers and school? What changes might you suggest? Have you thought about college, your major, what career you are interested in? Is being intelligent and doing well in school very important you and the average person your age?
- Personality and relationships: Describe your personality; the things you especially like/dislike about yourself. Have you changed much since you were younger? How do you see yourself changing over the years? Tell me about your relationship with your parents. What do things do you disagree about? In what ways are you especially close? How has your relationship changed since you have become a teenager/ gone to college/entered middle school? Tell me about your friends: Do you have a best friend? Do you hang out with a certain group of kids at school? For older children, look generally at the kids in your class: Is there a class bully? Does your school have cliques? What kinds of kids are really liked/disliked at school? For teenagers and emerging adults: Are you dating, in a committed relationship, engaged, married? What is this like? What are the high points? Anything you might improve? Do you have a job? If so what is that like? When you look to your future what are your thoughts about marriage, parenthood, and your career?
- Feelings about life stage: What things are most important to you at this time in life? What are the good/bad points of being your age? How do you feel in general about the years ahead? Is there anything else you want to mention about being this age?
SUGGESTED questions for a person in their prime adult years:
- Physical functioning and body concerns: Tell me about your physical abilities, your health, your looks and appearance. Do you play a sport, exercise, work out, watch what you eat? If so how important are these activities in your life? Now tell me how you feel about your looks, your weight, and your overall appearance? Is looking attractive or taking care of your health a number one priority? Are there any special concerns you have with regard to illnesses, appearance or health? (For people over 40): What specific external and internal signs of aging have you noticed? What ways have you physically changed since your youth? When you look to the future, where do you see yourself in terms of physical health? Is health/appearance more/less important than it used to be in the past?
- Intellectual abilities: Tell me about your intellectual abilities, your special talents and skills. Do you feel as if you are a bright person? Do you feel your “quickness of mind” has changed for the better/worse over the years? (For people over 45): Do you see any evidence of declining memory? If so explain. When you look to the future, how do you see yourself growing/changing intellectually? Now think about intelligence in general in people your age. Is this time of life a high point in terms of overall intelligence? How would you define being intelligent at your age (Here look for evidence of post-formal thought)?
- Personality and relationships. Describe your personality, the things you especially like/dislike about yourself? Have you changed a good deal since youth, and if so, how? How do you see yourself changing in later life? Are you married, a parent, a grandparent, at the peak of your career? If married, tell me about your relationship. If divorced, comment on that. If dating, tell me what that experience is like. If a parent, what is raising children like? Did parenthood fit your expectations, and, if not, what were the surprises? If an empty-nest parent, what is it like to have the children out of the house? If a grandparent, describe this role. Tell me about your relationship with your parents. Are you taking care of your elderly mother or father? Tell me about your work-life. What are some of the disappointments and joys of the career path you have chosen? Are you thinking of going back to school or changing careers? For people over 45, what are your retirement plans? Is there anything else you want to mention about how interests/ personality or relationships change at your time of life?
- Feelings about life stage: What things are most important at this age? What are the good/bad points of being your age? So far what is your favorite time of life? How do you feel in general about the years ahead? Is there anything else you want to mention about being this age?
SUGGESTED questions for an older adult
- Physical functioning and body concerns: Tell me about your physical abilities, your looks and appearance. Do you play a sport, exercise, work out, watch what you eat? If so how important are these activities in your life? Now tell me how you feel about your overall appearance? Is looking attractive an important priority in life? Tell me about your physical health. What specific external and internal signs of aging are most bothersome? What health-related worries most trouble you? Do you have specific chronic illnesses? If so, describe. (If the person is functionally impaired) How do you handle activities that are difficult, such as cooking, driving, getting to the store? Have you made specific preparations for your future health care needs? If so describe? Now look at people in general your age: What health concerns are most important to your contemporaries? What do people your age most worry about most with regard to disease and health care?
- Intelligence: Tell me about your intellectual abilities, any special talents and skills? Do you feel as if you are a bright person? In which areas do you shine? Do you feel your quickness of mind has changed for the better/worse over the years? If so describe the losses, the things that have changed for the better. Have you noticed changes in your memory? If so, describe. Do you engage in any special activities to keep intelligent, such as taking courses? Is memory and staying intelligent a number one priority to you or to people your age in general?
- Personality and relationships: Describe your personality. What are some things you especially like/dislike about yourself? Have you changed a good deal since your younger years and, if so, in what ways? What are your major interests, goals, and satisfactions? Are these interests basically similar to those you used to have? In what ways have your priorities changed in this stage of life? Are you married, widowed, a grandparent/great grandparent, retired? If married, tell me about your relationship, how it was in the past, what it is like now, how it has changed over the years. If divorced, comment on that. If widowed, describe what that experience is like. What were some of the hardest things for you? What advice would you give people in this area? If a parent, what is your relationship like with your adult children? If a grandparent, describe the joys and frustrations of this role. If a great-grandparent, is this a meaningful experience to you? If retired, how does this compare to your working life? Was adjusting to not working hard? If still working, describe what that is like. Do you have major financial worries? How do you think people in general change in their personality/interests as they age?
- Feelings about life stage. Look back over your life. Do you have a favorite life stage? Do you frequently think about the past? How do you feel about the years ahead? What are the good/bad points of being your age? Is there anything else you want to say about what it is like to be your age?
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