- The Road Ahead In our society, children hold a special place, where careful consideration is given to how they are treated and how information about them is shared. In CD 354: Methods of Observation, students observe children over the course of the semester, developing their observation skills while gathering data for a comprehensive case study. As observers, we have to understand the vulnerable nature of those we observe and carefully consider the ethical implications of our work. Watch this overview to get a better sense of those responsibilities, ethical implications and the course expectations.
- Planning for your Assignments The assignments in this class build upon one another, so it helps to understand the big picture and how the assignments contribute to a child case study and the final standardized test evaluation.
- Observing at the Lab Humboldt State University is fortunate to have a Child Development Laboratory (CDL), which provides an opportunity for Child Development students to connect theory and practice while working with children. The CDL has an observation booth, from which university students, teachers, and community members may observe the classroom. Before observer-guests allowed to use the booth, they must first view the orientation, so that they understand their responsibilities as observers.
“All of us are watchers–of television, of time clocks, of traffic on the freeway–but few are observers. Everyone is looking, not many are seeing.”
Welcome to CD 354: Methods of Observation. This course will examine multiple observational strategies and explore their uses and drawbacks. We will use and discuss both informal and standardized observational devices and examine the ethical issues involved with observing and assessing the development of young children. Course participants will learn to professionally summarize and interpret data collected to construct a child case study. Case studies from multiple disciplines will be examined, including education, psychology and social work.
Since the focus of the course is to learn to use and think critically about multiple observation tools, course content is organized by assignments. We will begin with an orientation assignment, then use anecdotes, narrative descriptions, checklists, time and event samples, and frequency and duration counts. Students will design their own tools before organizing summaries of their data into a case study, interpreting what they have gathered within a developmental context, then proposing child-centered goals and recommendations to foster the child’s continued growth. The course will conclude with a critical evaluation of several commonly used standardized tests, analyzing the standardization samples, reliability, validity, standard error of measurement, sensitivity, etc. of each instrument with the goal of preparing the student to be an educated administrator and consumer of standardized tools.
Overall, this course holds a unique place in the department curricula. It provides a meeting place for the student’s developmental knowledge with actual child behavior. The course asks that students examine their biases and perceptual lenses to see as clearly as they can. Even more, it challenges students to acquire precision in their thinking and in their writing about children’s experiences, so that students become the best professional observers they can be.