Santa Barbara City College Child Observation and Social Distance Esssay


Individual Paper 

Child Observation

(100 points)

WATCH this video (Links to an external site.) for an explanation of paper instructions!

Objective: In this individual assignment, you will demonstrate and apply your knowledge of physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional development in infancy and early childhood by conducting a naturalistic observation.

Length: 6-7 double-spaced pages. This includes the  cover and reference pages. You will submit a Google Doc link for this assignment.

Instructions: Arrange to observe a child 0-5 years old for at least 30 minutes. Your observation can be of a sibling, family member, or friend’s child; it can also be in a hospital nursery, daycare center, or preschool (*see NOTE below: alternate video option due to the pandemic). Try to take basic health precautions, be as unobtrusive as possible (i.e., avoid direct interaction with the child) and follow the steps outlined below:

  1. Observe and take note of the physical and social setting, ongoing activities, and the children’s responses to the conditions and activities;
  2. Focus on one particular child and describe his/her characteristics and behaviors in more detail (you may use a pseudonym to protect your subject’s confidentiality). Observe a child while engaged in an activity rather than a passive occupation such as watching TV! Ask an adult caretaker any questions you may have and include their responses in your paper (e.g., the child’s age, any developmental issues, etc.);
  3. Write a 6-7 double-spaced pages paper in American Psychological Association (APA) format that includes the following IN THIS ORDER:

A. COVER PAGE with paper title (create your own) and author (your name)

B. brief INTRODUCTION that presents your child subject and previews the concepts to be analyzed (approx. 1 paragraph; 10 points)

C. your actual OBSERVATIONS written as a narrative; no bullet points (approx. 1.5-2 pages; 20 points)

D. in-depth ANALYSIS of three human development concepts or theories covered in lecture or the textbook as they relate to the behaviors observed. Expand on concepts and include sub-concepts, if appropriate. Clearly INDICATE by boldfacing which concepts you are using. For example: “Two-year old Johnny played with Legos alongside his friend, illustrating the concept of cooperative play, which is when…” OR: “Three-year old Monica hung on the monkey bars, which can be analyzed in the context of motor skill development…” (approx. 2 pages; 45 points)

F. insightful CONCLUSION that integrates (rather than summarizes) your observations by providing a piece of insight (deep and clear understanding; approx. 1 paragraph; 10 points)

G. REFERENCE PAGE listing your textbook and any other optional but credible sources

H. PADELT BOARD – Post images, video and/or text to this PADLET BOARD (Links to an external site.), which represent everyday life examples of Piaget’s theory of cognitive development or Erikson’s psychosocial theory (age range 0-5 only). What would these theorists post?? Write from their perspective; Be creative; have fun, and be sure to include your name! (post by paper due date; 5 points)

I. WRITING & CLARITY: Write in a clear and organized style, free of grammatical and spelling mistakes. Paraphrase rather than quote, and cite reliable sources only (10 points)

Formatting: Your paper should be submitted online as a Google Doc link (Links to an external site.). American Psychological Association (APA) formatting guidelines are available here at Purdue Online Writing Lab (Links to an external site.). It is NOT necessary to include an author note, abstract or headings such as Methods and Discussion. You do, however, need to include the following:

Late papers will be subject to the regular 25%/day penalty unless you contact me ahead of time.

If your paper is based on a video not included in the set provided (e.g., YouTube), it will not be graded (virtual observations are OK).

General Guidelines:

  • Write in complete sentences and provide detailed analyses, but do not exceed (or write less than) the 6-7 pages limit (you will be penalized for extra pages). Pay attention to the structure and flow of your paper.
  • Use your automatic spellcheck!! Check for grammar and spelling mistakes before submitting your paper.
  • Paraphrase (write in your own words) rather than quote. Remember: you are demonstrating and applying your knowledge of course topics rather than simply summarizing an interesting observation! Avoid plagiarism by paraphrasing; substituting only a few words is still considered plagiarism. See additional information on plagiarism here (Links to an external site.).
  • Assume your reader is a layperson who is unfamiliar with course concepts. Briefly define technical terms before explaining and applying them.
  • Cite reliable sources only, if you choose to cite sources other than your textbook/lectures. These include peer-reviewed articles (primary research) and, to a lesser extent, websites with the extensions .edu (e.g., universities), .org (legitimate organizations), or .gov (government agencies).Commercial .com websites such as Wikipedia or “” are NOT considered reliable sources. The SBCC library Links to an external site.has additional information on this topic.
  • Check out the sample student paper downloadprovided for a suitable example, but avoid plagiarizing (Links to an external site.)!

You are encouraged to seek assistance from the Purdue Online Writing Lab (Links to an external site.) (APA formatting) and the SBCC Writing CenterLinks to an external site.. The latter provides both online drop-in hours and appointments.

*NOTE: Normally, students would be provided access to the SBCC Orfalea Early Learning Center in order to conduct their observations. However, given current safety measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a video alternative is provided below. Please follow these specific guidelines if you choose this option.

VIDEO or Zoom ALTERNATIVE: You may choose to base your observations on the video clips provided below or, alternatively, on a 30-minute virtual (e.g., Zoom) session with your subject, if you are unable to observe a child face-to-face due to the current health crisis.

I. Watch each of the 10 short child observation video clips (Links to an external site.) showing children engaged in free play and exploration (approximately 25 minutes altogether).

II. Select three video clips to be the basis of your observations. Label these clearly in your introduction as in “My observations were based on the video clips Pushing Prams, Baking Bread, and Bug Hunting“. Avoid losing points for failing to label your videos.

III. Follow the rest of the instructions for the in-person assignment, i.e., describe the behaviors of the child followed by an in-depth analysis of THREE developmental concepts in total (one concept/child/video). Try to focus on a single child per video, as outlined in the paper instructions.