The purpose of the developmental observation assignment is to synthesize and apply the theoretical concepts of child development to acquire an understanding of the developmental characteristics of a child or an adolescent in the biological, cognitive, and psychosocial domains of development.
Observe and/or interview a child or an adolescent (newborn 18 years) in a home, school or any other community organization serving children and adolescents. Record your observations based on the guidelines provided. If the child can talk, interview the child/adolescent asking age appropriate questions. In your interview, as appropriate, you may ask the child/adolescent about his or her likes, dislikes, interests or hobbies, role models, hopes and fears, attitude towards parents, teachers, school, friends, society, influence of the media, internet and the social media, and culture.
Guidelines for Report:
Introduction and formatting
a. Name of the child/adolescent, age and gender
b. Family characteristics: Social and cultural contexts
c. Siblings and their ages
d. Cultural background and socioeconomic status
Developmental characteristics (depending on the age of the child or adolescent)
Biological Domain (Physical Development):
Describe the childs physical characteristics and motor abilities.
Identify any problems or issues, if any.
i. Physical appearance:
a. Childs approximate height and weight
b. Does the child appear healthy or not? What makes you think so?
ii. Childs nutritional habits and eating patterns
iii. Childs sleeping patterns
iv. Childs movement and activities:
a. For infants (newborn 6 months), check for newborn reflexes.
b. How does the child move or how does the child use his/her body?
c. Does the child appear to be comfortable with his/her physical abilities?
d. Does the child prefer mostly high energy activities or quiet activities?
e. Give examples of childs gross motor skills are they age appropriate? How do they compare with what the textbook identifies as age-typical?
f. Give examples of childs fine motor skills are they age appropriate? How do they compare with what the textbook identifies as age-typical?
Cognitive Domain (Cognitive Development)
i. According to Jean Piagets cognitive development stages, which stage would you place the child? Why? Give two examples to support/explain your answer.
ii. For children of ages four to eight years, verify Piagets conservation tasks. State the results and conclusion. If necessary, apply Vygotskys concepts to explain conservation.
iii. For school age children and adolescents (ages six years and above), apply Gardners theory of multiple intelligences by identifying the childs strengths.
For children 3 5 years of age, ask three to five questions; For children 6 10 years of age, ask six to ten questions; For children 11 18 years of age, ask ten to fifteen questions.
i. Describe the child/adolescents language and thinking abilities.
ii. Ask age appropriate questions as applicable. Include the childs responses.
iii. What is your conclusion about the childs language development, or adolescents thoughts and ideas? Is the child/adolescent expressive or reserved?
Psychosocial Domain (Social and Emotional Development):
Temperament and personality traits:
Based on Thomas and Chess classification of infant temperament, describe the childs temperament characteristics for children of ages newborn to six years.
For children older than six years, apply the concepts of higher-order personality traits.
For infants only: Is the infant attached mainly to a parent or primary care giver, or is the infant attached to more than one parent or caregivers?
Does the child make friends easily? Is the child shy or quiet; cooperative or prefers to be alone?
How does the child communicate his/her wants or needs?
How does the child relate and interact with other people? Give two examples of childs interactions with family members/peers and friends/teacher/coach, or with you.
Erik Eriksons psychosocial stages: Which stage would this child be according to Erik Erikson? Give one reason for your answer.
James Marcias identity statuses: For high school age adolescents only.Which identity status do you think the adolescent is in? Find out by asking relevant questions about career exploration and choices.
Gender: Does the childs behavior reflect any specific gender characteristics? Give two examples to support your answer.
Ethnic identity: For adolescents 12 18 years of age, and of other than Caucasian heritage, apply Phinneys model of ethnic identity development and state the identity status.
Write a brief conclusion about the childs developmental characteristics. You may also ask parents/caregivers/teachers for their comments about the child/adolescent.