Here is a review of information discussed regarding the informal observation paper: Your name
Your approved proposal
Individual observation notes on one child observed
Use bullet points to avoid making comments and adding unnecessary information
Discuss the behaviors observed of the child individually
Write about how your proposal topic was observed
Discuss at least 4 course topics observed that relate to concepts discussed in the class
What were the Strengths of conducting naturalistic observation
What were the Weaknesses of conducting naturalistic observation
Further research questions you would like to conduct
Concerns you noticed during the observation.
Preparation: Choose an area of development that you would like to observe. Make sure it is something that is relatively easy to observe (e.g., peer interactions are easy to observe, whereas logical reasoning is rather difficult to observe), and that the area of development you have chosen is not too general and not too specific (e.g., “interaction with peers” is good; “social development” is too general, while “physical aggression toward same-sex peers” is too specific). You must have this topic (and observation location) approved by Professor Rashtian BEFORE conducting any observations! (see due date above)
Participants: For this observation, you will need to observe one child. You are free to choose children of any age (newborn to 11 years) and observe them in any setting. However, you must observe the child in the same setting on the same day in order to hold that variable constant.
o If you know a child within the required age range that you can observe: make sure to get their parents’/guardians’ permission before conducting the observation (see sample consent form). Once you have their consent, set up a time to observe the child that is convenient for the parent and child. If you choose this option, the child must be observed with the parents’/guardians’ permission.
o If you don’t know 1 child you can observe: conduct your observations at a place where you might commonly see children (e.g., park, toy store, play area at shopping center). If you do choose to do this, make sure you go at a time when it is likely that you will see many children (e.g., mornings or midday on a weekday). If you are unobtrusive and observe from a distance, parents may not even notice that you are observing them. If they do notice and ask you what you are doing, tell them that you are observing children as part of your class on Child Development at CSUN. Tell them that you are just observing, and ask if it is okay to continue watching for a few more minutes. Respect their wishes if they feel uncomfortable. If they say no, you must discard all observations for that child and start anew with a different observation of a different child.
NOTE: you are not violating any ethical standards if you observe from a distance and do not interact with the children, as long as you are observing in a public location (e.g., a mall is a public location, but a school playground is private property and therefore NOT a public location). Therefore, be honest if anyone asks what you are doing, and respect their wishes if they decline to be observed.
Observations: Make sure you pick a target child before beginning each observation. If you are observing a group of children, choose one target child in the group to focus on. Observe the target child for about 15 to 20 minutes. You should just observe, and wait to take notes. Once you are done with your observation, move away from the observation location (preferably out of sight of the parent and child). When you have found a location away from the observation location, write down everything you can remember about what happened during the observation period that relates to the area of development that you have chosen. Focus on writing observable behaviors (writing out bullet notes may be helpful to organize your information and to avoid writing comments/opinions). All observations should be conducted in the same day.
All students will turn in their own report, which should include 2 parts:
1) Behavioral Observation notes for the child: you should compile your individual observation notes into one 1 to 2-page (double-spaced) observation report for the child. Writing the behavioral observations in bullet notes per child can make it easier to avoid commenting on what you saw. Make sure to note what area of development you chose to focus on and the location of your observation!! Use pseudonyms for all children so that they cannot be identified by your notes. Observation notes should include objective observations only. For example, you should report that “the child looked away when the mother started showing her the book”, NOT “the child had trouble focusing on the task”.
2) Individual reflection: this part should be written individually. Based on what you observed, write a 2 to 3-page (double-spaced) reflection on what you learned from this informal observation. This should include all of the following:
• any insights you gained into child development that relate to your chosen area of development. Apply your observation notes to your proposal topic.
• any insights you gained into child development from the observation that would have been difficult to gain from just reading a textbook. Cite a few course concepts.
• any observation that reminded you of something we discussed in class or that you read in the textbook
• any interesting research questions that arose from observing each child
• thoughts on observation as a research methodology, including strengths, weaknesses, pitfalls, things to avoid, things to watch out for, things to be careful about, etc.
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