Child Observation Project



Comprehensive Assignment: Child Observation Project

The Purpose of the Project: To use the observational method to compare either physical/motor, cognitive, or social/emotional development in two different age groups in order to understand the changes that occur in early and middle childhood development.

Instructions: Choose two ages/grades that you would like to observe. Make arrangements with the teacher for each class to come in for one hour and observe the students. You may only conduct your observations with prior approval from the teacher and at the time they give you. You will be doing a total of two hours of observations (One hour for each grade). Choose whether you will focus on physical/motor, cognitive, or social/emotional development. Prior to going in for your observations, re-read the chapters in your textbook that cover normal developmental patterns for your chosen ages. Use that knowledge to map out what behaviors or observations you will be looking for.

Examples of physical/motor development observations: Gross Motor Skills, Fine Motor Skills, Height/Weight, Level of activity. Take notes recording what you see related to gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Ability to hold a pencil properly? Cut with scissors? What behaviors are the students engaged in that give you a sense of their motor skills, sensory perceptions, etc?

Examples of Cognitive development observations: Do students remain on task, are they easily distracted? Do they display egocentric behavior, reversibility of thought? Use Piaget terms whenever possible in your explanations of the behaviors you have observed.

Examples of Social/emotional development: Did the students interact and communicate appropriately with the teacher, with their peers? Did they display appropriate emotional regulation or were they impulsive? Were they inhibited in their emotional expressions?

Introduction: (This should be 1/2 to 1 page long.) 10 points

The Introduction should include the type of development you plan to observe, your two age ranges to be observed, and an overview of what type of development is expected for the two age ranges citing at least three sources. Once source can be your textbook and two need to be journal articles. For example, if you are going to look at cognitive development in 5 year olds and ten year olds, find two articles that discuss cognitive development in those age ranges, and summarize their information. Cite in APA format and include sources in your reference page.

Method (less than 1/2 a page) ( 10 points)

Divide this section of your paper into subheadings: Participants & Procedure. Under procedure, include a reference to your notes and diagram of the space.

Participants. This section describes the critical characteristics of the participants. If you only observed a specific subset of children include that information.

Example: Three infants between the ages of four and 7 months (younger infants) and three infants between the ages of 7 and 14 months (older infants) who attended the Cyert Center were observed.

Procedure. State how you conducted your observation – number of sessions, time of day, how you recorded the information.

Example: Children were observed through a viewing window for 30 minutes on two consecutive mornings (see room layout). On the first day the younger infants were observed and on the second day the older infants were observed. A behavioral checklist was used to record each instance of a listed behavior during the 30 minute period (See checklist).

OR Children were observed from a corner of the room for two 30-minute periods during the afternoon free play period, two days apart. Younger toddlers were observed on day one and older toddlers were observed on day two. All behaviors related to physical and motor activity were recorded and later categorized as fine or gross motor.

Results (depends on how extensive you were but between 1 to 1.5 pages) (15 points)

Present what you found. If you used a checklist and counted frequency of behavior you can report that – you don’t have to report every item. You can group them or drop ones with very low frequencies. If you took notes, describe how the two groups were different or not. Address the questions that were listed under the question on the assignment description. Report the most interesting findings, even if it was that there were no differences between the two groups. But remember, your focus is the comparison of the two groups on the behavior of interest so make sure you compare them

Example: Older toddlers verbalized more often, had longer utterances, and talked to their peers more than the younger toddlers. Younger toddlers mostly used single word utterances and never had an utterance more than 4 words long. OR

Forty percent of the young toddlers utterances were single word compared to only two percent of the older toddlers. In contrast, 80% of the older toddlers utterances were five or more words compared to 6% of the younger toddlers.

Conclusion/Discussion: (Use either Conclusion or Discussion). 10 points.

How do your findings relate to theories or previous research. Do they support or contradict previous work or our current theories? Do they support one theory and contradict another? Briefly summarize your result and then discuss its implication.

Example: I found that the younger toddlers primarily used single word utterances whereas the older toddlers used more complex and longer utterances. This is similar to the findings by Nelson (1986) and others. Furthermore, the high frequency of overregularizing verbs in the older but not the younger toddlers supports Pinker’s view that over time children change from producing heard words only to applying abstracted grammatical rules to produce words (Pinker, 1987).