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Individual Observations Guidelines                         

Purpose of Assignment:

This assignment allows the student to apply their knowledge of child development to actual observations of children at different stages of development. The goal is not to analyze the child for diagnosis. Rather, the goal is to identify behaviors, attitudes, actions, etc. in a child and relate those to the theories and information learned in this course.

The Observations:

You will be responsible for arranging times to observe a child between the ages of 3 – 10 years old. The child should be observed at least five times for at least 1 hour; however, a longer time may be needed to obtain accurate information. Detailed notes should be taken during the observation and actual behaviors referenced in the write-up portions of the assignment. The child can be observed in a variety of settings including a home setting, in childcare setting, school, or group activity setting.  Make sure you have the parent’s permission before observing the child.

Your task will be to conduct a series of observations to create a profile of the child’s physical, psychosocial, emotional, language, cognitive, moral and faith development. Use the Milestones of Development charts in the textbook (see week 1 readings) as a guide. 

In addition, you should carefully note other general factors about this child that might have implications to his or her learning. Include information on the child’s sex, family profile, community and socioeconomic profile and so on.

As well as using your own creative ideas of how to test for moral development, the following dilemma can be adapted with a modern slant and read to the child:

A. There was a little boy called Henry. His father had gone out and Henry thought it would be fun to play with father’s paints. First he played with the paint brush, and a small spot of paint dripped on to the tablecloth.

B. A little boy who was called Andre noticed that his father’s paint can was empty. One day when his father was away, he thought of filling the paint can so as to help this father, so that his father would find if full when he came home. But while he was opening the paint can he spilt it and made a big paint stain on the table cloth.

After you read the stories, ask the child the following questions:  Are these children equally guilty? Which of the two is naughtier? Why?  You may need to probe further for in-depth responses.

Your psychosocial analysis should be based on extended observations of this child relative to Erickson’s theory of psychosocial development. Also make a note of the child’s emotional intelligence development.

Make note of any multiple intelligences that may be apparent and any other observation that might help to create an accurate picture of this child’s development.

To test for cognitive development, simulate some of Piaget’s initial conservation experiments. Also try the tasks listed below as the affect the preoperational and concrete operational thinker.


The Write-up:

Your observation notes should provide detailed information about the child’s age, physical appearance, the setting, and any other important background information. Make sure NOT to use the child’s real name in the write-up. Interspersed throughout the paper should be references to course material, information from your textbook, and class supplemental materials. It is expected that more attention will be paid to the child’s cognitive, social and emotional development than physical development. 

Each student is to write a minimum eight page research paper, not including your bibliography. The final paper is to be typed double-spaced, with a #11 font. You must submit the rough notes of your interviews and observations to the instructor. Papers should be written in APA style, double spaced, and follows the format below:

Introduction: Provide a profile of the child you observed/interviewed to include sex, age, physical appearance, family characteristics, socioeconomic status, community and school profile as well as any other relevant background information.               1 page

Observations of Development:  Summarize what your text and other course readings say about the development of children of this age. Provide a summary of what you learned through your observations and in-depth interviews.     3 to 4 pages

Comment on Development: This is the portion of the paper when your professional analyses of your observations are shared. Discuss whether or not your observations and interviews support your research. Based on your evidence, what can you generally state regarding the physical, cognitive, emotional, psychosocial, moral, and faith development of this child? Conclude by saying whether you think this child/adolescent is at a developmentally appropriate level for his or her age.          2 to 3 pages

Conclusion: Conclude with an implications section. What could this child benefit from? What are his/her relative strengths and weaknesses? What is the relevance of what you discovered to teaching and learning? How will this information affect your future career? Make any final remarks regarding their overall development in this section.                                        1 to 2 pages


To do this assignment properly it is essential that you pace yourself leaving enough time to conduct the interviews, observe, and synthesize it with course content. (Observations/Interviews should start after class in Week 1 and be completed by week 5.)  Take detailed notes of observations/ interview responses. 

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