Quote “Observation more than books, experience more than persons, are the prime educators.” – Amos Bronson Alcott What meaning does this quote have for you as you begin your study of the importance of observation in early childhood education?
Assessment The process of observing, recording, and documenting children’s growth and behavior. Comes from the Latin word meaning to sit beside and get to know. To be an authentic assessment, observations must be done over time in play-based situations. ▫Most accurate Assessment is not evaluating. Evaluation is the process of reviewing the information and finding value in it.
Why Assess? Inform teachers about children’s developmental needs Used in planning developmentally appropriate curriculum Provides information on each child’s unique needs, strengths and interests Chart progress over time Identify classroom and individual problems
When to Assess Initial assessment – when the school year starts Ongoing assessments – individual children and group
Formal vs. Informal Observation Formal include standardized tests and research instruments ▫Developmental milestones – characteristics and behaviors considered normal for children in specific age groups ▫Also called emerging competencies Informal observations most often used by preschool teachers. ▫Samples of work, interviewing parents, talking with childrne
Choosing a Method 1.What type of behavior do you want to assess? 2.Are you needing to assess an individual or group? 3.How much focused attention will the observer need?
Assessment Tools Anecdotal records Checklists Participation chart Rating scales Sample work
Anecdotal Records A brief narrative account of a specific incident Simplest form of direct observation Often used to develop an understanding of a child’s behavior Must be objective! ▫Describe only observable actions
Anecdotal Records Once you observe, then you can interpret (the whys) Advantages ▫Easiest method of observation ▫Running record over time Disadvantages ▫A complete picture may not be provided ▫May miss important information
Checklists Designed to record the presence or absence of behaviors Advantages ▫No time constraints ▫Quickly recorded ▫Easy to use Disadvantages ▫Lack of detailed information ▫Only particular behaviors are noted
Participation Chart Can be developed to gain information on specific aspects of children’s behavior
Rating Scales Planned to record something specific Make a judgment Never, Sometimes, Usually, Always
Work Samples Artwork Stories Photographs Stored in a portfolio Tracks progress over time
Visual Documentation Collecting or photographing samples of a child’s work that portrays learning and development Provides a record that can be studied
Portfolios A collection of materials that show a person’s abilities, accomplishments and progress over time Include more than observations ▫Art projects, audiotapes of conversations, child- dictated stories
Confidentiality Do not discuss a child in a setting outside the classroom Avoid 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