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Life History Interview and Analysis

Life History Interview and Analysis

Sample Answer 

Life History Interview and Analysis

The Narrative

Mrs. Miranda is a seventy-four-year-old African American lady. She currently lives alone in the East Side Promise neighborhood of San Antonio. She is a clinical psychologist and a counselor by profession. Mrs. Miranda currently spends her time writing articles, speaking to communities, especially young people and women, and volunteering in counseling centers.

Early Childhood

She was born in the East Side neighborhood of San Antonio, Texas. She grew up in East Side for all of her childhood with both her parents as the only child. Her earliest conscious memory is that of her family baking sweet potatoes at the fireplace. Her parents were caring, lenient, and supportive throughout her childhood, even though they were not affluent. As a child, she preferred the company of her peers. Besides going to school, she mainly spent time playing outdoor games such as cartwheeling and peekaboo with other children in their neighborhood.

Middle Childhood

Mrs. Miranda had many friends as a child, although she did not have a best friend. She learned to do chores at an early age. For instance, she was required to help with tasks such as milking cows and assisting in farm work. She would wake up early during school days to tidy the house and the compound before going to school. The school was far from home. As a young girl, she wanted to be a drummer but was denied the opportunity to formally learn to play because girls did not play drums. She attempted to learn by taking free lessons but gave up due to poor progress. Although Mrs. Miranda was not outstanding academically, she was above average during most of her education.


As a teenager, Mrs. Miranda was strong-willed and headstrong as she started to take charge of many decisions regarding her life. Her parents allowed her to spend a lot of time with her peers. Mrs. Miranda was involved in romantic relationships throughout her teenage years. Her first relationship was at the age of eleven years. Mrs. Miranda conceived when she was twenty years old and was compelled to delay proceeding to college. However, her parents continued to care for her until she married.

She thinks life today has become more complicated since young people own equipment such as gadgets and cell phones, which were not accessible to them during her time. People preferred to write letters. Mrs. Miranda also recognizes modern rap music, which she says was not there during their time. Additionally, discipline was stricter when she was a teenager since children were not allowed to talk back at adults.


Mrs. Miranda’s aspiration in early adulthood did not go beyond becoming a wife and a mother. Most of her cousins got married when they were young girls in their early twenties. Her biggest mistake in life was forfeiting her dream of studying psychology up to PhD level to get married at twenty-two years of age. Mrs. Miranda was, however, reluctant to reveal details of her experience and the nature of her first marriage beyond the fact that her husband was a drunkard. However, she does not regret the experience since it made her grow and inspired her to re-embark on her career. The experience also made her more empathetic towards others, which influenced her career choice in counseling. Her decision to study psychology was also influenced by her aunt, who offered her marriage counseling after her marriage failed.

She resumed her education after the divorce, starting college in her thirties to study psychology. Earning her Bachelor’s degree in psychology is one of her biggest accomplishments in life. She worked as a clinical psychologist and a counselor until she retired at the age of 66 years. After her retirement, she picked up reading and volunteer counseling in the neighborhood alongside three of her former co-workers. She is currently writing her memoir in which she describes her experiences in her first marriage, having been influenced by a friend she met at her book club who had also experienced a bad marriage.

Mrs. Miranda got married again when she was 47 years old. After only ten years of marriage, her husband succumbed to lung cancer seventeen years ago. She had one son when she was twenty years old with her first husband before they married. Having him is her greatest accomplishment, and she raised him by herself until she married her second husband. He brought her fulfillment and pride. She felt it was perfect to have one child even though most women got more children during her time, and women got disparaged for having only one child. Mrs. Miranda nevertheless thinks that family is the most important thing in life and comes before friendships.

Late Adulthood

The late adulthood years have been the best years of Mrs. Miranda’s life. This is because she enjoys the greatest degree of independence. The happiest moment of her life was babysitting and playing with her grandchildren. She has a collection of photographs dating from when she was a toddler. She spends time looking at her collection of photographs, attending her book club, and visiting her closest friend, Paddy, who lives in the same neighborhood.

When she was younger, she wanted to live at least until the age of seventy years. She is, therefore, proud to have lived to see her 75th birthday, which would be two days after the day of the interview. Living a long life has given her a chance to get everything she always wished to have when she was young.

According to Mrs. Miranda, the worst thing about growing old is losing close friends or acquaintances due to death or separation. Her greatest fear is being diagnosed with a terminal illness. She is also afraid that, in the future, her body will progressively deteriorate due to senility to a point when she cannot manage on her own.

Views on Aging

According to Mrs. Miranda, age is a feeling. Furthermore, she thinks that aging is a natural process and there is little that one can do to influence it. She tries to stay healthy by emulating other older adults and avoiding things she thinks may be unsafe. Nevertheless, Mrs. Miranda thinks the best way to prepare for aging is to maintain a motivated and optimistic mindset for as long as possible.

Values and Plans

Mrs. Miranda hopes to live up to ninety years so that she can see her grandchildren get married. In the future, she plans to relocate to a retirement home near her daughter’s family so she can be around them. She also wants to complete her memoir before her 76th birthday.

She is a Christian. Her favorite human qualities are a sense of humor since she loves to laugh, kindness and honesty. Mrs. Miranda also likes fair-mindedness since people can sometimes be wrong in their judgments. She dislikes prejudice and dishonesty. She also dislikes the teenage habit of name-calling.

Mrs. Miranda’s greatest advice was that one should strive to stay healthy. This is in terms of the lifestyle choices one makes, such as diet and recreation. She also advised that one should make a life plan early in life, including career and decisions such as marriage and family, and then stick to it through life.

Theoretical Analysis

Social Network Theory

Social network theory is the theory that claims that relationships are formed between people who share similar interests (Serrat, 2017). It was developed by Jacob Moreno, an American psychiatrist, and sociologist in the 1930s. The theory describes how the relationships people establish influence their behavior (Serrat, 2017). As such, it is possible to get an in-depth view of a relationship through the analysis of the various actors in an individual’s life, including family, friends, and relatives.

The social network theory consists of three main components. The first aspect is the social network and environment, which includes the people in an individual’s social environment who influence their actions (Gillieatt et al., 2015). These people are referred to as actors or nodes in the social environment. They usually have similarities such as common interests that represent ties that influence them to align their behaviors (Gillieatt et al., 2015). In the case of Mrs. Miranda, several actors or nodes can be identified in her life. These actors have influenced her behaviors and choices, with effects extending into late adulthood. The actors include her relatives, such as her cousins and aunt, who gave her marriage counseling; her friends, particularly her former co-workers from her last job as a clinical psychologist and counselor; and her friends from the book club.

The second component is the position of a person in the social network, which also influences a person’s behavior. The position of an individual in a social network influences their actions and behaviors according to whether they are the central actors, bridging actors, or peripheral actors (Serrat, 2017). Central actors have the greatest influence since they have access to the largest number of ideas and information, which allows them to be the sources of behavior whose acquisition is influenced by interactions with bridging actors (Serrat, 2017). Miranda’s relationship with her cousins, who married at a young age (central actors), may have influenced her to contemplate early marriage. Mrs. Miranda’s aunt holds the position of a central actor who provided the greatest influence that drove her to pursue psychology and counseling as a career. However, she may be the central actor in her relationship with her friends, who influences them to start a book club and provide volunteer counseling in the East Side community.

Thirdly, the theory describes the structure of the social network. The structure of the social network influences the actions of the individual within the system of interconnected actors (Valente et al., 2015). The structure can be homophilic, which refers to the tendency for actors with similar characteristics to stay together, reciprocal, explained by the formation of mutual connections between actors, or a structure of transitivity in which connected actors are both connected to a third party (Valente et al., 2015). The homophilic nature of the social structure of Mrs. Miranda is evidenced by the fact that most of the friends she has maintained are individuals who worked in the counseling profession. In addition, she becomes friends at the book club with a lady who had a similar experience of a failed marriage. The similarity in their first marriage experience provides the commonality that maintains their friendships and is the source of her motivation to write a memoir of her experiences for other women to read.

Strength and Weakness

The social network theory is appropriate for understanding the life experiences of Mrs. Miranda since it provides a framework to determine people who have influenced her choices and behavior. It explains why she decided to become a counselor, why she volunteers as a counselor in the community even though she has retired, why she is writing a memoir, and her choice of friends (Gillath, Karantzas, & Selcuk, 2017). The theory does not, however, help to understand the role of Mrs. Miranda’s personal profile and unique attributes in her decisions and choices (Gillath et al., 2017). For instance, Mrs. Miranda was strong-willed and headstrong as an adolescent. We would, therefore, expect that she would be less influenced by other people to make choices.

Critical Race Theory

Critical race theory is a theory in social sciences that seeks to explain how the categories of race and related socioeconomic stratification relate the society and culture. The theory emerged within legal contexts as a component of legal studies conducted to elucidate the legal implications of racially constructed societal power structures (Kolivoski, Weaver, & Constance-Huggins, 2014). Critical race theory has since spread beyond the legal field into other disciplines such as education, studies in gender, and sociological studies. One subset of the theory is the Latino critical race theory, which emerged in Latino cultural activism (Kolivoski et al., 2014). Social workers utilize the critical race theory to evaluate societal power structures and formulate strategies for planning and implementing change.

It explains that race is a socially constructed rather than a biological phenomenon, and its main purpose is to serve the interests of the dominant race (Howard & Navarro, 2016). As such, issues such are racial inequalities are considered to be the effects of the efforts of the dominant race (the white race, in the context of American society) to maintain their socioeconomic superiority (Howard & Navarro, 2016). Race is, therefore, a mere social construction that lays the foundation for the systemic oppression of members of minority communities. The critical race theory provides a suitable framework for understanding the life experiences of Mrs. Miranda.

Her childhood experiences, such as having to learn house chores and working on the farm at an early age, can be explained by the less-fortunate status of their family. As a young girl, she was passionate about playing drums. However, she did not get the opportunity to learn because girls did not play drums formally. Although it is unclear if this affected her psychological development as a child, the experience is a consequence of societal gender roles that limited her ability to achieve a sense of accomplishment. Notably, this disappointment occurred when she was in the Erik Erikson stage of industry versus inferiority (Chung, 2018). It was not evident whether she subsequently developed feelings of inferiority.

Although she went to school and completed high school, Mrs. Miranda initially only aspired to become a wife and a mother. This is even though she had ambitions to study psychology up to the PhD level. This resulted in her being married at a young age and put her at risk of an unsuccessful marriage. Being a member of the African American race, her decision to get married rather than complete her education can be understood within the context of the patriarchal system of society and most communities during the 20th century in which gender roles designated women as wives whose responsibility was to care for their husband.

Mrs. Miranda had her child when she was only twenty years old and before she got married. This experience can be explained by the critical race theory considering that the low socioeconomic status of her parents and their neighborhood may have predisposed her to conceive at a young age. Conceiving at a young age, in turn, predisposed her to an early marriage. The low socioeconomic status of her family put her at risk of a bad marriage with a spouse she was unhappy with. While her parent’s socioeconomic status limited her career and educational progress, her marriage delayed it.

Furthermore, Mrs. Miranda became widowed after only ten years of marriage after her husband succumbed to lung cancer. The critical theory may explain this experience, considering that chronic diseases such as cancer are prevalent in low socioeconomic settings. Disease survival is affected by factors such as access to care and inequalities. Her experience may, therefore, be an effect of inequalities resulting from social constructions, particularly race.

Strength and Weakness

The critical care theory is important in understanding Miranda’s experiences virtually throughout her life. It describes how social and environmental factors have shaped her life. Social factors are crucial elements in psychological development, and this theory provides a framework for applying them to Mrs. Miranda’s life experiences (Bonilla-Silva, 2015). The theory is, however, subjective since we cannot truly determine if some of the experiences in Mrs. Miranda’s life factors resulted from social underprivilege or personality and individual attributes (Bonilla-Silva, 2015)

Levinson’s Seasons of Life Theory

The Seasons of life theory is a theory that describes the sequential psychosocial stages through which an adult grows and develops into the late adulthood years of life. The theory was developed by Daniel Levinson, an American psychologist of the 20th century (Aktu & İlhan, 2017). The theory generally identifies two periods in the process of adult growth and development, namely, the stable period and the transitional period. During the stable periods of adult development, an individual makes important life choices (Aktu & İlhan, 2017). On the other hand, the transitional period marks the end of one stage and the beginning of another (Aktu & İlhan, 2017). This period may be relatively turbulent and may explain various problems that occur during life (Aktu & İlhan, 2017). The stages include early adult transition, early adulthood, Age thirty transition, settling down, Midlife Transition, Entering Middle adulthood, and late adulthood.

During the early adult transition stage, a person leaves the stage of adolescence and begins to make decisions about adult life (Aktu, 2016). These decisions may include opting to go to college, experimenting with a relationship, or leaving home. In Miranda’s case, the aspects of this stage are evident in her involvement in a romantic relationship in her late teenage years that resulted in a pregnancy. Subsequently, one proceeds to the early adulthood stage, during which a person makes life choices regarding love, lifestyle, and occupation (Aktu, 2016). Mrs. Miranda marks this stage through her decision to get married to her first husband. Her aspiration to become a wife and a mother rather than pursue a career is another aspect of this stage that indicates her initial lifestyle and occupational choice (to become a housewife).

The next stage is the stage of the Age thirty transition, during which an individual makes decisions regarding family life, lifestyle, and career (Aktu & İlhan, 2017). The decisions may be mild to extreme. In the case of Mrs. Miranda, this stage is marked by her decision to quit her marriage and start college education with the aspiration of becoming a specialized psychologist. This stage is followed by the stage of settling down when the adult begins to form routines, focus on parenting, and establish goals for the future (Aktu & İlhan, 2017). During this stage, Mrs. Miranda chooses to raise one child and concentrate on her work. Following this stage is the stage of midlife transition, when one makes drastic changes in their life, such as decisions regarding marriage, including divorce (Coleman & O’Hanlon, 2018). Mrs. Miranda decides to enter her second marriage during this stage.

Subsequently, one enters the middle adulthood stage when life choices include future goals after retirement, decisions regarding legacy, and new activities to indulge in (Coleman & O’Hanlon, 2018). During this stage of her life, Mrs. Miranda joined a book club. She also started volunteer counseling, speaking, and article writing to help members of her community. The final stage is the stage of late adulthood when an individual reflects on their decisions during their younger years (Coleman & O’Hanlon, 2018). Mrs. Miranda is currently in this stage. She is writing a memoir in which she describes her life experiences.

Strength and Weakness

The theory of Seasons of life is useful in understanding Mrs. Miranda’s growth and development in early, middle, and late adulthood. It provides a framework for understanding why particular experiences happened during a particular stage of her life (Aktu, 2016). These include her decision to get married, her decision to have one child, retirement age, friendships, and personal initiatives such as volunteer counseling. However, the theory may be inappropriate in understanding some stages of Mrs. Miranda’s life in which the life stages do not follow the typical life structure (Aktu, 2016). For example, Mrs. Miranda interrupted her education to get married and therefore postponed her college education to the third decade of life when she was supposed to decide her occupation. Her life structure also has perturbations, such as having a child during her late teenage years, an experience that does not fit into Levinson’s structure.

Piaget’s Moral Development Theory

Moral development refers to the process of learning to distinguish between wrong and right, occurring mainly in childhood. Jean Piaget was a Swiss psychologist famous for his scholarly work on cognitive development during childhood. However, he also proposed a two-stage model to theorize the process of moral development in children. Piaget’s theory of moral development was based on three main aspects of morality during childhood, including the understanding of rules, the concept of moral responsibility, and the understanding of moral justice (Turiel, 2018). The understanding of rules is concerned with the origin of rules and whether they can be changed (Turiel, 2018). On the other hand, moral responsibility deals with the answerability for bad things, the determination of what is bad based on action or outcome, and the notion of bad in the context of accidental or intentional wrongdoing (Turiel, 2018). Moral justice refers to whether wrongdoing is always punished and whether punishment corresponds to the wrongdoing (Turiel, 2018).

Based on the three concepts of morality, Piaget identified two stages of moral development: heteronomous morality occurring between 5 and 9 years of age and autonomous morality occurring between 9 and 10 years of age (Turiel, 2018). In heteronomous morality, the child understands morality as the practice of obeying definite and unchangeable rules to avoid immediate punishment (Sengsavang, Willemsen, & Krettenauer, 2015). In the case of Mrs. Miranda, this stage of psychological development can be seen during her early childhood years. She learned to do chores at home at an early age. She woke up early during school days to milk cows and tidied their home before she went to school because her parents required her to do so. She also assisted on the farm. Her main concern was to obey these unchangeable rules since the main authority in her life (her parents) made them.

Similarly, in autonomous morality, the child understands relativism in the definition of wrong and right, and that wrong is mainly defined by intentions and motives rather than the outcomes of the wrongdoing (Arvanitis, 2017). The child also begins to perceive rules from the perspective of other people. In addition, punishment is also understood as a form of admonition rather than retribution (Arvanitis, 2017). In Mrs. Miranda’s case, this moral development stage is also evident during her middle childhood experience. When she tries to learn how to play the drum, her parents prohibit her because it is an activity for boys. She, however, attempts to learn behind her parents’ backs by taking free drumming lessons. During this stage, Mrs. Miranda understands that although her parents forbid her to play the drum because only boys are drummers (the rule), it is not wrong for her to play the drum because she intends to have fun (the motive). She, therefore, appears to redefine wrong during this stage by acting based on her own discretion and disobeying her parents.

Strength and Weakness

Piaget’s theory of moral development is important in understanding Mrs. Miranda’s psychosocial development. It explains the disconnection between her early and middle behavior (Garrigan, Adlam, & Langdon, 2018). While in early childhood she appears to be obedient despite an overwhelming volume of chores to perform every day, in middle childhood she defies her parents wish and attempts to learn how to play drums despite being forbidden. The theory may, however, be inappropriate for understanding Mrs. Miranda’s behavior in early childhood. Mrs. Miranda, for example, reports that her parents were not strict or cruel and rarely punished her as a child for occasionally failing to do chores. Therefore, heteronomous morality does not explain why she remained obedient to her parents even though there was no form of moral justice typical of Piaget’s first stage of morality. Some studies have suggested that subjective morality emerges at a much younger age in childhood, alongside cognitive development (Cowell & Decety, 2015). It is possible that Mrs. Miranda’s obedience in early childhood was motivated by a pragmatic understanding of good and bad, leading her to perceive performing house chores as good because of their outcomes (clean homestead and fewer burdens of chores for her parents).

Personal Reflection

The interview experience and its analysis have been very enlightening in terms of internalizing the relevance of sociological theories in understanding human psychosocial development. The experience has also changed my perception of the aging process. I used to consider the aging process a harrowing process in light of the senile changes happening in the body, causing symptoms such as pain and reduced control of the body. Additionally, I thought that old age is filled with despair and despondency due to the thought of one’s failures during life and the gradual debilitation of the body. This interview has, however, disconfirmed this perspective of the aging process. I was surprised when Mrs. Miranda mentioned that she is currently living her best life when I expected otherwise.

The interview was also personally challenging for me. Mrs. Miranda’s experiences of early pregnancy, early marriage, marriage failure, and her eventual commencement of college challenged me regarding the importance of having a life plan from early in life. Her story was also inspiring in light of the resilience she demonstrated after her first marriage failed. She started college and pursued her dream career at an age that would be considered advanced. My understanding of the concept of person-in-environment has also improved, especially as I tried to apply the Critical Race Theory to Mrs. Miranda’s life experience, particularly her childhood in a poor neighborhood.

Finally, the interview experience has also provided insights into how people integrate meaning into their life experiences. Notably, it has revealed to me the benefit of reminiscence on experiences during life, such as legacy, important accomplishments, and the family’s well-being in the holistic wellness of the elderly, a professional insight I hope to apply in the future. My perception of older people has also changed beyond the belief of becoming wiser. Now I think of aging as a beautiful and fulfilling process that needs to be embraced.


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Aktu, Y., & İlhan, T. (2017). Individuals’ Life Structures in the Early Adulthood Period Based on Levinson’s Theory. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 1383-1403.

Arvanitis, A. (2017). Autonomy and morality: A Self-Determination Theory discussion of ethics. New Ideas in Psychology, 57-61.

Bonilla-Silva, E. (2015). More than prejudice: Restatement, reflections, and new directions in critical race theory. Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, 73-87.

Callaghan, T., & Corbit, J. (2018). Early prosocial development across cultures. Current opinion in psychology, 102-106.

Chung, D. Y. (2018). The eight stages of psychosocial protective development: Developmental psychology. Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science, 369.

Coleman, P. G., & O’Hanlon, A. (2018). Theories of adult development: mid-life to old age. Aging and Development, 11-44.

Cowell, J. M., & Decety, J. (2015). The neuroscience of implicit moral evaluation and its relation to generosity in early childhood. Current Biology, 93-97.

Garrigan , B., Adlam, A. L., & Langdon, P. E. (2018). Moral decision-making and moral development: Toward an integrative framework. Developmental review, 80-100.

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Life History Interview and Analysis

Assignment Guidelines


The purpose of the final assignment is for the student to demonstrate mastery in the application of theoretical and empirical work relevant to the biological, cognitive, and psychosocial development and functioning of the individual across the life course. Based on a face-to-face interview with a person 70 years of age or older, the student will integrate his/her knowledge of the course material by analyzing the subject’s development and behavior across the life course. Students also will present their work in class.

The paper should contain 3 sections:

  1. The narrative or story of the person’s life
  2. A theoretical analysis of the person’s development and behavior
  3. A personal reflection about the insights gained from the assignment

A supplemental reading will be distributed to assist you in understanding some of the major socio-historical events and periods that your interviewee may have experienced:

Life History Interview and Analysis

Life History Interview and Analysis

Garthwait, C. (2007). A century in review: A decade-by-decade social and historical timeline. In E.L. Csikai and B. Jones (Eds). Teaching resources for end-of-life and palliative care courses (pp. 18-31). Chicago: Lyceum Books, Inc.

Selection of the Interviewee

Do not choose a family member, close friend of the family, someone well-known to a close friend or colleague, or a USC instructor for this assignment. The interviewee may be a neighbor, fellow church member, casual acquaintance, absolute stranger, or anyone else who is 70 years of age or older and is willing to volunteer for the interview. The interview must be face-to-face. Skype and other real-time, in-person online communication tools are permissible. While telephone contact is fine for scheduling and follow-up communication, it is not permitted for the interview itself.

Asking the interview subject to return written responses to questions that you mail/email/text also is not acceptable. It is critically important to establish trust with the interview subject through both verbal and nonverbal communication in order to facilitate the sharing of personal information. It also is important that you remember to use a pseudonym in the paper to protect the confidentiality of your interview subject.

Contents of the Final Paper

1) The Narrative

For the first part of this assignment, introduce the interview subject and present the facts or “story” of his/her life. The story can be told chronologically according to life stages (e.g., early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence, adulthood, later adulthood; Erikson’s psychosocial stages) or can be organized by categories of life experiences (e.g., significant relationships, work/career, major accomplishments, etc).

To assist you in telling the client’s life “story” you may want to focus the interview on the following domains of inquiry:

  1. Significant life events and/or normative transitions (e.g., leaving home, becoming a parent, job loss and/or career transitions, going off to war, marching in a civil rights protest, a close other’s death, etc), and their influence on the person’s bio-psycho- social development and behavior
  2. Significant relationships in various life stages, and the impact of those relationships.
  3. Significant changes in biological/physiological/cognitive/emotional function and the ways these have affected development and behavior.
  4. Goals, values, beliefs that have been important to the person.
  5. Successes and areas of pleasure, joy, and satisfaction.
  6. Disappointments and areas of pain and distress.
  7. Views of the aging process as a whole, views about what “getting older” means, thoughts about what constitutes successful aging, ways he/she has coped with life’s ups and downs
  8. Reflections on how diversity-related factors, such as culture, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc., have affected the his/her life experiences
  9. Plans for/views of the future
  10. Biggest life lesson learned or piece of advice, personal motto

Sample Interview Questions: The following is a list of sample questions that you can use to get the interview started, to probe for more information, to start a new topic of discussion, etc.

  1. What is your earliest memory?
  2. What were you like as a child?
  3. What was your family like? Who did you “take after”?
  4. What were your relationships with your parents and siblings like?
  5. Who were the important people in your life? Tell me about them.
  6. Did you experience any losses in childhood? Later in your life? How did you deal with these difficulties?
  7. What important events did you experience in childhood, in your adolescence, in early adulthood, in mid-adulthood, in late adulthood?
  8. How did the neighborhood in which you grew up influence you?
  9. Did you ever have to make a life-changing decision?
  10. What has parenting been like for you?
  11.  Have you ever had any serious illnesses or injuries?
  12. Have you been discriminated against or limited in your life chances because of who you are?
  13. Do you have a personal motto or philosophy by which you live your life? How did it develop? Has it changed over your life course?
  14. If you had a chance to live life over, would you? Why (why not?)

Things to keep in mind: Explain the purpose of the interview to the person, how it will be used, and how confidentially will be guaranteed. Ethically, you also should let the person know that you are a mandated reporter. Ask for a quiet and private place where you can conduct the interview. Invite the person to choose his or her own pseudonym. Be an active and courteous listener. Remember that the interview is not simply a question and answer period, but rather a conversation about the person’s life. Many persons feel they benefit from telling their own stories. They may share things, very sensitive things, in some cases, that they have never before told to anyone. If this occurs, be empathetic, but remember your role: you are a graduate student conducting an interview for a class, not a clinician conducting a therapeutic session. Ask if the person is okay and if she/he wishes to continue. You can always take a break or reschedule. It is not uncommon to have to meet 2 or 3 times with the subject to complete the interview, so plan your time accordingly. Once the interview is finished, be sure to thank the person for helping you with the assignment and for sharing his/her life with you.

The narrative is worth 25 POINTS and should be approximately 3-4 pages.

2) Theoretical Analysis

The second section of the assignment is a critical theoretical analysis of the person’s life. This is your opportunity to demonstrate an ability to critically utilize theory to derive a theoretically-informed understanding of development and behavior across the life course. In completing the analysis, make sure to do the following:

Incorporate at least 4 different theories from the course into your analysis. You must include at least 1 theory related to adolescent or adult development (Units 10 and 11) and 1 theory related to social relations/social conflict (Units 12-14). Use sub-headings to distinguish your discussion of each theory. Remember that theory attempts to explain why people behave as they do. You must go beyond simply listing or identifying relevant theoretical concepts. Your analysis should attempt to explain or make sense of patterns of bio-psycho-social development and functioning in the person’s life. Select theories and concepts that are most applicable to your interviewee’s life course. Support your analysis with specific examples from the person’s life and scholarly source material.

Include at least 1 strength and 1 weaknesses of each theory for understanding your interview subject. Support your claims with interview material and scholarly literature.

The critical analysis is worth 40 POINTS and should be approximately 8-10 pages.

3) Personal Reflection

The third section of the assignment is a reflection on personal and clinical insights gained from the interview experience. What assumptions did you have coming into the interview and how were those confirmed or disconfirmed? How did the interview experience affect your personal view of older adults and the aging process? In what ways were you personally changed or challenged as a result of having conducted the interview? In terms of your development as a social worker, how has your understanding of clinical terms such as “starting where the client is”, “self-determination”, “person-in-environment”, etc., changed? What clinical or professional insights have you gained about the ways in which people integrate and make meaning of their life experiences?

The personal reflection is worth 15 POINTS and should be approximately 1-2 pages.

Style and Format

The paper should be 14-16 pages in length (not counting the title page or reference list), double-spaced, with 1-inch margins on all sides, 12-point font, a running header, and page numbers. Use subheadings (in bold font) to organize your paper. Throughout the paper, provide examples from the person’s life to illustrate your points, as well as conceptual and empirical evidence to support your arguments. Reference a minimum of 10 scholarly works (at least 3 of which must be sources that do not appear on the 506 syllabus; place these in bold type). Avoid using direct, verbatim quotes from source material (except from the interview). Please do not cite the asynchronous material, lecture notes, etc. Instead, rely upon original sources of scholarly information. A scholarly source is one that is a direct result of academic study or formal research by someone with subject matter expertise, typically denoted by an advanced degree in the relevant field. If you are unsure as to whether a
source meets this criterion, consult your instructor. Use editorial and referencing styles as specified in the latest APA Publication Manual ( Please note: The HBSE textbook (ie, Robbins, Chatterjee, & Canda) will count as a one scholarly source regardless of the number of chapters you cite.

Style and Format is worth 10 POINTS.

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