Observing Children: A Tool for Assessment
AssessmentDevelopmental milestonesAnecdotal recordChecklistParticipation chartRating scaleVisual documentationPortfolio
“Observation more than books, experience more than persons, are the prime educators.”– Amos Bronson AlcottWhat meaning does this quote have for you as you begin your study of the importance of observation in early childhood education?
The process of observing, recording, and documenting children’s growth and behavior.Comes from the Latin word meaningto sit beside and get to know.
To be an authentic assessment, observations must be done over time in play-based situations.Most accurateAssessment isnotevaluating. Evaluation is the process of reviewing the information and finding value in it.
Inform teachers about children’s developmental needsUsed in planning developmentally appropriate curriculumProvides information on each child’s unique needs, strengths and interestsChart progress over timeIdentify classroom and individual problems
When to Assess
Initial assessment – when the school year startsOngoing assessments – individual children and group
Formal vs. Informal Observation
Formal include standardized tests and research instrumentsDevelopmental milestones – characteristics and behaviors considered normal for children in specific age groupsAlso called emerging competenciesInformal observations most often used by preschool teachers.Samples of work, interviewing parents, talking withchildrne
Choosing a Method
What type of behavior do you want to assess?Are you needing to assess an individual or group?How much focused attention will the observer need?
Anecdotal recordsChecklistsParticipation chartRating scalesSample work
A brief narrative account of a specific incidentSimplest form of direct observationOften used to develop an understanding of a child’s behaviorMust be objective!Describeonly observable actions
Once you observe,then you can interpret(the whys)AdvantagesEasiest method of observationRunning record over timeDisadvantagesA complete picture may not be providedMay miss important information
Designed to record the presence or absence of behaviorsAdvantagesNo time constraintsQuickly recordedEasy to useDisadvantagesLack of detailed informationOnly particular behaviors are noted
Can be developed to gain information on specific aspects of children’s behavior
Planned to record something specificMake a judgmentNever, Sometimes, Usually, Always
ArtworkStoriesPhotographsStored in a portfolioTracks progress over time
Collecting or photographing samples of a child’s work that portrays learning and developmentProvides a record that can be studied
A collection of materials that show a person’s abilities, accomplishments and progress over timeInclude more than observationsArt projects, audiotapes of conversations, child-dictated stories
Do not discuss a child in a setting outside the classroomAvoid using the child’s name (give a letter or #)Leave personal items out of observation area (kids are curious!)Engage in as little interaction as possible with staff, other observers and especially the children