Observation and Assessment  
Sample Syllabus - CD 120  Observation and Assessment

Course Description:  Introduction to the skills and methods used to observe preschool children in various settings.  Emphasis will be on recording and interpreting child behaviors and teaching strategies within a developmental perspective.


Course Objectives:  Upon completing this course, the student will be able to:

  • Describe child behaviors and teacher-child interactions accurately and objectively within a developmental perspective.
  • Select effective observational techniques to observe, record and report child behavior and interactions
  • Observe and analyze children’s behavior
  • Evaluate appropriate and inappropriate teaching strategies
  • Apply observational information in working with children through the identification and design of developmentally appropriate activities.


Recommendation:  It is strongly advised that this course be taken after the student has completed CD 107 and CD 110.


Texts needed:

McAffee, Leong and Bodrova, Basics of Assessment, NAEYC, 2004.  ISBN 1-928896-18-9


Mindes, Gaye Assessing Young Children, Pearson 2011, 4th Edition ISBN 0-13-700227-0

Harms, Clifford and Cryer, Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale-Revised, Taecher's College Press, ISBN 0807745499

Reccomended text:

Cryer, Harms and Riley , All About the ECERS-R, Teachers College Press, ISBN 088076-610-7


Course Policies


  • Written Assignments:  All students are expected to produce college-level work.  One of the goals of this class is to prepare students to be successful professionals.  Part of having a successful image is the ability to produce neat, legible, coherent, and grammatically correct written materials.  Grammar and spelling should be correct and do influence the points given on assignmentsIt is strongly recommended that students have someone else proof read assignments prior to turning them in.  All assignments must be typed.


  • Late assignments will be accepted for half credit up to one week after the due date.  Assignment due dates are posted on the course calendar.  Exception: Discussion boards must be done in the week they are assigned in order to get any credit.  Any entries after the week ends (Monday at midnight) will not be given any credit.


  • If you will be traveling during the semester, make sure you know where there will be internet access as I expect you to always be able to find a connection and I do not extend dates unless the Saddleback server is down.


  • All work submitted as an attachment must be saved in either an .rtf or .doc type file and must include first and last name and ticket number just as if you were going to print it and turn it in. 


  • Students must retain copies of assignments until grades are posted at the end of the semester.  If a recording error should take place, the student must show the instructor the returned assignment with points posted for credit.


  • Confidentiality:  In this class, we will be discussing various observations of real people.  In accordance with Principle 2.9 in the Code of Ethical Conduct (NAEYC, 1998), all efforts should be made to protect the privacy of children, parents, students, and staff.  We will identify children by using their first name only.


  • Academic dishonesty and cheating: There is a zero tolerance policy for academic dishonesty and cheating in this classroom.  All assignments must be original work by the student done for this class only.  During exams, any talking or unauthorized use of notes will be considered cheating.  Students will be given a zero on any project/assignment/test which violates this policy and an Academic Dishonesty Report will be filed with the college.


CD 120

Sample Course Calendar


This is an example of the content for the 12 week online course.  The offical one for your course will be on the blackboard site once the courese begins.  The full semester, in-class course will have weekly assignments in place of the discussion boards and the coursework will be spread out a bit more.





Assignment Due

 1 –



Why we observe



Online article

Discussion board

Assignment 1


2 –


Ethics in Observation

Objective/subjective reporting/bias

Mindes Chapter 1

McAfee – Pages 1-17 (Getting Acquainted with Assessment)

Discussion Board

Objective Reporting Assignment

3 –


Developing Family Partnerships in Assessment

Mindes Chapter 2

Discussion Board



Narrative Methods

  • Anecdotal Records
  • Running Records


Online Articles

Discussion Board




Non-narrative Methods

  • Checklists
  •  Rating Scales
  • Frequency Counts
  • Time Samples



Online articles

Discussion Board

Observation #1 – Using narrative tools



Choosing the proper tool to Observe Behavior/Development


Mindes Chapter 3

McAfee pages 20-66 (Doing Assessment)


Discussion Board

Observation #2 – Using non-narrative tools


7 –



Using Your Assessment Information


Mid-term Exam (Thur-Sun)


McAfee Pages 20-79 (Using your Assessment Information)


Mindes Chapter 5



Mid-term exam


Midterm Exam




8 –


Using Observation to Inform Instruction


Mindes Chapter 6-7



Discussion Board

Draft observation #3 tool due for feedback


9 –


Special Issues in Assessment


Mindes Chapters 9-10


Discussion Board


Observation #3 – Creating and interpreting assessment tools








Onine articles



Discussion Board


11 –


Curriculum, Assessment and Program Evaluation

Mindes Chapter 5

Online articles

Discussion Board

Observation #4 – DRDP-R


12 –



Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale – Revised Edition

Discussion Board




Online articles

Discussion Board

Observation #5 – ECERS-R




The instructor reserves the right to modify the schedule above to better meet the needs of the class.




  • Field Observations: These assignments present opportunities for the student to gain experience in observing, recording and evaluating children’s abilities, teacher-child interactions and the learning environment.  The observations are a chance to apply methods discussed in class.  Details for each observation will be provided two weeks in advance.  Plan to send 3 hours for each observation.    If you work in an early childhood setting, you may do your field observation at your site but not during a time when you are responsible for children.  You must be free to be an observer. Observations must be done in a preschool classroom (3-5 year olds).  They may not be done in an infant/toddler classroom or a school aged classroom .  Do all of your observations in the same classroom as they will be building information based on prior observations.


  • Discussion Boards (for online classes only): Discussion boards are our main source of communication with each other and so comprise a very important part of the class.  In order for us to build meaning together and to learn from each other, we need to be involved in conversations with each other.  Each week, you must post an original thread in response to the information posted on the week’s Discussion Board.  Most weeks, you will be directed to post your first thread by Thursday evening. Topics for each week’s discussion will be posted in the Assignments folder.    It is important to check into the discussion area at least 3 times each week.  Everyone must make a thoughtful response to the designated number of classmates by the end of the week (Monday at midnight).  You will not receive any credit for observations posted after the week ends. 


Mid-term Exam: You mid-term exam will be a practical application of learned material.