Methods of Observing Young Children

Topics: Observation, Scientific method, Philosophy of science Pages: 5 (1198 words) Published: February 26, 2013
Methods of Observing Young Children
The most popular method of recording child observations is "narrative recording," or a written description of children's actions.

1. Running records (or Descriptive Narrative Record)
A detailed narrative account of behavior recorded in a sequential manner as it happens; Not limited to a particular incident like an anecdotal record; The observer records everything seen.
1. Rich in detail;
2. Focuses on all behaviors, not just one particular behavior; 3. Does not require a great deal of training;
4. Understand not only what behaviors occurred but also the context in which the behavior occurred. Disadvantages
1. Time consuming;
2. Works well for observing one individual, but is difficult to use when observing a group; 3. Observers keep themselves apart from the children which would be difficult for a teacher to do.

2. Anecdotal records
A brief narrative account describing an incident of a child's behavior that is of interest to the observer. Anecdotes describe
• what happened
• how it happened
• when
• where
• what was said and done
These are brief
• describe one incident
• they are cumulative, collected over the school year
They are often written after the incident.
1. Focus on behavior of interest and ignore other behaviors; 2. Less time consuming than running record;
3. No special training needed for the observer;
4. Observer can catch an unexpected incident no matter when it occurs, for it is usually recorded afterwards. Disadvantages
1. Does not focus on all behaviors; may overlook important behaviors; 2. Depends on the memory of the observer;
3. Difficult to use for research purposes.
Written samples of certain behaviors to discover how often, how long, or when a particular behavior occurs. Time sampling: The observer records the frequency of a behavior's occurrence over time Involves observing specified behaviors of an individual or group, and recording the presence or absence of this behavior during short intervals of uniform length Behavior is specified, defined, and limited

Provides quantitative data or number of events
1. Takes less time than running record and anecdotal records; 2. Can record data on many children at once;
3. It provides useful information about the intervals or frequency of behavior; 4. Counts of behavior can be used for research purposes.
1. May miss important behaviors;
2. Context of behavior not noted; does not focus on the causes and consequences of the behavior; 3. It is limited to behaviors that occur frequently and not rare behaviors that might also be important.  

2. Event sampling: The observer waits for and records a specific preselected behavior Used to study the conditions under which particular behaviors occur or the frequency of behaviors. A "unit of behavior" is defined and the setting in which it occurs is determined If studying causes or results of behaviors, then an ABC analysis is used A = antecedent event

B = behavior
C = consequent event
If frequency of occurrence is the focus, the recorder can record by counting rather than description. Advantages
1. Can be used to study infrequent behaviors; note them each time they occur; 2. Notes the antecedents and consequences of the behavior unlike time sampling; Disadvantages
1. Focuses on only one or a few behaviors;
2. Does not have as much detail as running record or anecdotal record.  
Rating Scales
Rating scales are observation tools that indicate the degree to which a person possesses a certain trait or behavior Each behavior is rated on a continuum from the lowest to highest level Rating scales work best where particular degrees of behavior are well defined, and where there is a distinct difference in the behavior 1. Numerical Scales: A rating scale that is numerical in form Raters observe children for as long as it takes to circle a number for each...
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