Observation Assignment for Psychology

For this writing assignment you will be choosing a group to observe in a naturalistic setting. You can choose to observe infants, children, or adolescents (pre-college). The group does not have to be all the same age, but observing a small range of ages will simplify your paper. The group should include a minimum of 3-5 subjects. You should observe your subjects for a minimum of 30 minutes, but you may need to watch a little longer to be able to accurately describe them (or you may find that you don’t want to stop because you are enjoying it so much!). Remember the point of naturalistic observation is to observe behavior as it occurs naturally without interfering. Try to be a passive observer and limit your own interactions with the subjects that you are observing (although I realize this may be difficult for some of you!).

You have several different options for how and where you can do your observing. You can go to a daycare or preschool. If you have kids or know kids and want to observe them playing with some friends that is fine, as well. Observing children in a bible class at church will work. If you have younger siblings, you could observe them with some of their friends. If you are having a big family get-together and there are a lot of kids or teenagers in your family, you can observe them. You could also go to a park, playground, even the mall.

After you complete your observations, you will write a paper describing what you saw and your impressions of your observations. Also, discuss the physical (sensory and motor development), cognitive (including language), social (types of play, interaction with peers), and emotional development that is normal for that particular age group. Discuss the relevant theories (e.g., Piaget, Erikson) from the book and what they say about the age group that you observed. Use your book as a source, but please put the information in your own words. Compare the infants, children, or adolescents that you have observed with what would be considered typical for that particular age group. Were you surprised by any of your observations? Discuss the variability that you observed among your subjects. What does this tell you about the difference between average and normal (i.e., do kids have to be the same to be developing normally)?

Be sure to include the approximate ages, genders, and number of subjects that you observed (you can change names, if you wish).

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