Observation and Floor Plan
There are lots of different ways you can observe a child and each will have a different purpose and give you a different outcome, below I have listed a few different types of observations you can use. Narrative Observation, Narrative observation is a detailed account of everything that you see a child doing, it helps if you have a clear focus for your observation so that you can choose an appropriate activity to observe. It can give lots of information in all areas but can also be difficult to record everything you see and if other distractions arise important events can be missed.
This sort of observation can be done at any time and no preparation is needed, you should observe for a short time, about10 – 15 minutes. It can be hard to observe so closely and write down everything that you see for much longer. The Pros are, collection of detailed, descriptive narrative data concerning literacy development, used plain instruction, can be used throughout the year. The Cons you may not be able to do them in the setting as the planning may not be right for this type of observation, you need to have a great deal of expertise and objectivity.
Tracking Observation A tracking grid observation (also known as mapping ) is where the observer maps wherever the child goes within a given period on a floor plan of the room. The time the child spends at each area/activity should also be recorded on the floor plan, the observer plots the child’s direction onto the floor plan using a dashed line. Tracking grids are used to observe attention span and it also records the activities that children play at most frequently.
It is always useful to have a floor plan already made up so you are ready anytime to do one. Time sampling observation The child is observed at specific intervals e. g. every 15 minutes throughout the session or for how long is required. More information may be gained as you are observing over a longer period of time but things may also be missed in-between time slots. The Pros for this are systematic and efficient, adaptable for use in various settings for various subjects; large numbers of observations can be collected.
The Cons recording of frequencies takes behaviour out of context, no indication of quality of events and they can be easy to overestimate frequencies of behaviour and to inaccurately record durations. Event sampling observation Is a good way to observe the child in the different activity’s to build up a pattern of a child’s behaviour over a period of days or weeks, for example to discover what provokes tantrums, or how a child reacts to leaving their carer at the start of each day. You may have to ask other adults to help observe as things could be misses.
The Pros for this are behaviours are examined in context of antecedents and consequences, relevant features surrounding an event are explored and understood uses event sampling. The cons are time intensive, Requires expertise and highly refined observation skills and objectivity can be compromised. Sociogram This gives information on who children like to play with although is not always accurate as some children may just say the name of the child across the room or who they just played with. It gives a quick overview of the social structure of the group.