Objective: To develop interviewing techniques--organize ideas and
materials; record and summarize data; develop hypotheses about information
collected; present results.
The photographs in this unit offer many views
of office life in the past and present, but artifacts and images can only tell
part of any story. In the following activity, students employ a research method
used by historians: the interview. Explain to the class that the interview is a
living primary source of information.
The purpose of the students' interviews will
be to gather information about work and conditions in offices over the past
several years. The activity will culminate in students' writing a two-page
summary of their interviews. Recommend that students find people to interview
who have worked in offices for at least fifteen years, preferably longer.
People who have retired would be ideal candidates for interviews. Other potential
subjects would be the school's business course instructors. Instructors would
have knowledge of changes in machinery and equipment, necessary skills for
office workers, changing proportions of women to men in their classes, career
aspirations and achievements of their graduates, and much more.
To prepare for the interviews, give each
student a copy of the Interview Worksheet and the Interview Checklist. In class, discuss
possible additions to these lists and stress the lists' importance in
organizing and completing successful interviews. Because interviews often
generate more interesting information than can be presented in the
interviewer's two-page summary, students will need to select and organize their
findings with great care.