Analysing Articles

Examining Opposing Viewpoints

Interpreting Folk Songs in History

Interpreting Cartoons

Responding Personally to Historical Information

Preparing to Conduct an Interview

Listening with Discrimination

Generalizing from Historical Data

Analysing Cause and Effect

Preparing to Conduct an Interview

In any historical situation or development, key personalities have a major influence on how events unfold. This is true in the developments leading up to the entry of Newfoundland and Labrador into confederation with Canada. In this activity, Preparing to Conduct an Interview, you will assume the role of an interviewer (e.g., a journalist) who is exploring the experiences of people who lived during the confederation process.

The following exercises will suggest how to work on this task:

Exercises and Suggestions:

  1. Identify someone who lived during the 1940s; this may be a relative, or someone who is referred to you by someone else.
  2. Contact this person and arrange a place and time for an interview. Advise the individual ahead of time what you wish to talk about.
  3. Before you conduct your interview, you will need to prepare your questions carefully. As you do this, keep in mind that there are three categories of questions you may ask:

    • The easiest questions are those that seek factual information; for example, the who, what, when, and where kinds. These questions, although important, will give you basic information.
    • Another type of question gets at how one piece of information is connected with another; how one event led to another; how one situation had an impact on another; how what someone said caused another person to say or do something. These kinds of questions explore reasons, cause and effect, comparisons, contrasts, and explanations. They sometimes use such phrases as Why...?, How...?, How differently ...?, How alike ...?, but other key words may be used.
    • Finally, the third category explores opinions and positions taken. Phrases used could include Do you think that...?; In your opinion, why did this happen this way ...?; How would you have done it differently ...?; What do you think will happen next ...? Again, these are only suggestions for you to consider; the actual way you frame your questions will depend upon the person you interview, the situation, and his or her reactions.
    • After you have prepared your questions, you are ready to conduct your interview. Remember that the give-and-take of the interview may tell you that some of the prepared questions can be omitted; for example, you would not ask a question if it has been already.
    • You may wish to record the interview with a tape-recorder or video-camera (you should do this only with the permission of the person you are interviewing). This technique would be very useful if you wish to evaluate later how well the interview went. For example, could you have asked a question differently to make it more clear? Did you allow enough time for the person to respond before you followed it up with another question?

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