CADV 150 Observation Paper

Overview and Purpose



Observing children in their natural environment tells us a lot about their social-emotional, physical and cognitive development. The purpose of this assignment is to expose you to development within a real context and make connections to developmental theory. Your task is to (a) observe a child between the ages of 2 – 16 years old in their natural environment; and (b) write a report integrating your observation with course content.  

There are 6 steps to this assignment:

Step 1: Conduct Observation

Step 2: Write the paper

Step 3: Submit to Canvas

Step 4: Complete 2 peer reviews

Step 5: Revise based on peer’s comments

Step 6: Submit your final paper

Step 1: Conduct Observation

If you have access to a child at home: If you have access to observe a child that you are in social isolation with at home, then go ahead and conduct the observation on that child.

If you don’t have access to observe a child: If you do not have access to a child to observe, then you will go online and choose a YouTube channel that is run by a child or preteen/teen (3-16 years). The child must be a real child, and not a character like Blippi or Barney or a grown up dressed as a child. You will watch one of the YouTubers videos. I highly suggest watching a “day in the life” type of video versus something more polished and directed by parents. I suggest watching a video that is 20 minutes or longer so you can get all the content you need. You will provide the link in your report. Here are some suggestions for popular YouTube channels run by children. 

  • Ryan’s World (24.4M subscribers)
  • SIS vs BRO (12.4M subscribers)
  • Ninja Kids TV (8.13M subscribers)
  • HobbyFamilyTV (3.86M subscribers)
    Naiah and Elli Toys Show (1.2M subscribers)
  • Others (your choice, just let me know the channel name and video)

Before the Observation

  • Review the eBook chapters because you need context and background information to understand what concepts you might come across during your observation. Most likely, you’ll have to read ahead a few chapters depending on the age of the child you observe.
  • Choose a setting. The observation can take place in any natural setting such as a home, playground/park, etc.
  • Leave ample time to complete the observation. Do not schedule work or other activities around the time of your observation.
  • Choose a target child to observe if there is more than one child in the setting.

During the Observation



  • Take good notes of what the child is doing and saying.
  • Observe the child for as long as you need to, to be able to describe each developmental domain. One hour (or more) is reasonable. Concentrate on writing about the child you are observing and only that child, even if other children are around.
  • Have fun! This is meant to be a pleasant experience.  

Things to Remember/Consider



  • First and foremost, under no circumstance should you put yourself or the child (or any other child) in harm’s way. Use common sense.
  • Child must be between 2 and 16 years of age. Reports on children younger or older will not be graded.
  • You are not to be caring for a child (e.g., babysitting) at the time of your observation. Your only task is to observe.
  • Make sure your child is not in passive activities during your observation such as playing video games or watching screens. You won’t get much for your report.  
  • Do not involve yourself in the child’s activities during the observation. Be discreet. Your job is to just observe. If the child approaches and tries to engage you, smile and let him/her continue playing. Tell them you are “doing your homework or hanging out”.
  • You are merely getting a brief snapshot of the child so stay clear of grand assumptions. Be objective when recording behavior (e.g., the child ran X times across the playground and jumped up using both feet 3 consecutive times) as opposed to subjective (e.g., I think s/he was tired because s/he was not running as fast as the other kids – how do you know s/he was tired?; I think the child is a genius because s/he…; I think s/he will have problems later in school because s/he…).
  • Record only the behaviors/skills/abilities you see and hear. I do not need to know what the child did NOT do.
  • If you know the child personally, you will have to work hard to keep any preconceived notions of him/her OUT of the observation report.
  • Use a pseudonym and do not include identifying information (e.g., where the child lives, parent names, what school, last name, etc.).
  • Use full sentences. Do not use bullet points.
  • Be sure to bold the concepts you have chosen.

Step 2: Write the paper

Your paper will:

  • Be 2 pages, double-spaced. Any text beyond the page limit will not be read.
  • Use 12 point, times new roman font
  • Use APA style (1” margins, formatted title page, references page). The title page and references page does not count towards your page limit.

Strong papers have these qualities:

  • define jargon (i.e., special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession, such as “schema” or “scaffold”)
  • provide evidence to support arguments and claims 
  • use professional tone (e.g., avoid contractions, second person, etc.)
  • are proofread for spelling and grammatical errors

Step 3: Submit to Canvas

Acceptable formats: .pdf and .doc.

See the schedule for the due date and read the Turnitin Instructions on how to submit a paper on Canvas. Incomplete papers (e.g., papers that do not have all required sections) will not receive credit. Because this assignment is time sensitive (your peers get one week to review your paper), the consequences for not submitting a complete paper by the deadline are the following:

  • You will not receive points for this section (4 points).
  • You will not be able to complete the peer reviews (6 points).

Be sure you get a pop-up confirmation from Turnitin (you may have enable pop-ups in your browser). If you need assistance, in the top left-hand corner of your Canvas page, under “CSUN”, click on the “Student Canvas Help” link. You can find help on how to submit to turnitin (#8). I will adhere to the time stamps recorded on these websites to reflect the dates & times you submit your work. If you believe there is a problem with the accuracy of how Canvas and turnitin are recording your online behaviors, please contact the tech support of that website before talking with me.

  • Papers must be submitted online through Canvas by the due date.
  • No emailed, faxed, or dropped off copies of papers will be accepted.

Step 4: Complete 2 peer reviews

You have one week to complete this section—see the schedule for the due date. By providing feedback on how well your peers’ papers meet the grading criteria, you will see the paper from my perspective. If the paper does not make sense to you, I likely have the same opinion. You can use this insight to evaluate your paper. The feedback from the peer-review may improve your grade.

  • Read the Turnitin Instructions on how to write a peer review on Canvas.
  • Complete the Peermark assignment by clicking on the Observation Paper. You will be randomly assigned 2 papers to review.
    • Step 1: Read through paper once for clarity and understanding. Provide “macro” notes based on the rubric on the last page of this document (e.g., In order to strengthen your logic/organization/writing/APA style you need to XXXX)
    • Step 2: Re-read and write specific suggestions on the paper (grammar, spelling). Common errors: their/they’re/there, it’s/its, to/two/too
    • Step 3: Assign overall grade out of 30 based on each grading criteria listed at the end of this document. The grade you assign will not impact how I grade papers—it is only used to help your peer. If you give an author 30/30 in your peer review, that means you think there is no room for improvement.
  • Use a respectful tone and provide useful feedback. Comments such as “this is good” are not helpful. If you believe the paper doesn’t need improvement, then talk about the strengths of the paper so that your comments are informative and constructive. However, if you give feedback that the paper is “good” but in fact needs quite a bit of improvement, your grade will suffer.
  • I will not grade this section until your final submissions are submitted to compare your feedback to the final paper.

Step 5: Revise based on peer’s comments

  • Read the Turnitin Instructions on how to read a peer review on Canvas.
  • You have one week to access your original submission and revise your paper before the final submission.
  • Note: If you’re having trouble viewing some content, try using another browser (Chrome, Firefox, Explorer).

Step 6: Submit your final paper

Submit on Canvas. Acceptable formats: .pdf and .doc. See the schedule for the due date.

Grading Rubric

Part 1: Complete First Draft by Due Date (4 pts)

Observation ComponentsPossible Points
Describes physical setting.5
Example of physical development.5
Example of cognitive development.5
Example of socioemotional development.5
Detailed description of child.5
The paper has paragraphs (i.e., not an outline) and is about 2 pages (not including title and references page).5
The paper has a title page.5
The paper has a references page.5
Total Possible Points4

Part 2: Peer Reviews (3 pts each; 6 points total)

Observation ComponentsPossible Points
Provides “macro” notes based on the rubric below (e.g., to strengthen your logic/organization/writing/APA style you need to XXXX)1
Assigned overall grade out of total possible points based on each grading criteria below with explanation1
Feedback improves peer’s paper1
Total Possible Points3

Part 3: Final Draft (30 pts)

Observation ComponentsPossible Points
Start and End time1
Detailed description of the physical setting where the observation took place2
Age of child1
Height of child1
Weight of child1
Detailed description of the child2
Physical Development example (objective and appropriate)2
Physical Development – developmental concept/construct2
Cognitive Development example (objective and appropriate)2
Cognitive Development – developmental concept/construct2
Socioemotional Development example (objective and appropriate)2
Socioemotional Development – developmental concept/construct2
Writing (cohesive, flow, organization, easy to read and follow)2
Mechanics (spelling, grammar/usage, punctuation, etc.)2
APA style (title page and references page in APA style)2
Formatting (page length is adequate and appropriate)2
Reflection (insightful, aware)2
Total Possible Points30

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Overview and Purpose

Observing children in their natural environment tells us a lot about their social-emotional, physical and cognitive development. The purpose of this assignment is to expose you to development within a real context and make connections to developmental theory. Your task is to (a) observe a child between the ages of 2 – 16 years old in their natural environment; and (b) write a report integrating your observation with course content.  

There are 6 steps to this assignment:

Step 1: Conduct Observation

Step 2: Write the paper

Step 3: Submit to Canvas

Step 4: Complete 2 peer reviews

Step 5: Revise based on peer’s comments

Step 6: Submit your final paper

Step 1: Conduct Observation

If you have access to a child at home: If you have access to observe a child that you are in social isolation with at home, then go ahead and conduct the observation on that child.

If you don’t have access to observe a child: If you do not have access to a child to observe, then you will go online and choose a YouTube channel that is run by a child or preteen/teen (3-16 years). The child must be a real child, and not a character like Blippi or Barney or a grown up dressed as a child. You will watch one of the YouTubers videos. I highly suggest watching a “day in the life” type of video versus something more polished and directed by parents. I suggest watching a video that is 20 minutes or longer so you can get all the content you need. You will provide the link in your report. Here are some suggestions for popular YouTube channels run by children. 

  • Ryan’s World (24.4M subscribers)
  • SIS vs BRO (12.4M subscribers)
  • Ninja Kids TV (8.13M subscribers)
  • HobbyFamilyTV (3.86M subscribers)
    Naiah and Elli Toys Show (1.2M subscribers)
  • Others (your choice, just let me know the channel name and video)

Before the Observation

  • Review the eBook chapters because you need context and background information to understand what concepts you might come across during your observation. Most likely, you’ll have to read ahead a few chapters depending on the age of the child you observe.
  • Choose a setting. The observation can take place in any natural setting such as a home, playground/park, etc.
  • Leave ample time to complete the observation. Do not schedule work or other activities around the time of your observation.
  • Choose a target child to observe if there is more than one child in the setting.

During the Observation

  • Take good notes of what the child is doing and saying.
  • Observe the child for as long as you need to, to be able to describe each developmental domain. One hour (or more) is reasonable. Concentrate on writing about the child you are observing and only that child, even if other children are around.
  • Have fun! This is meant to be a pleasant experience.  

Things to Remember/Consider

  • First and foremost, under no circumstance should you put yourself or the child (or any other child) in harm’s way. Use common sense.
  • Child must be between 2 and 16 years of age. Reports on children younger or older will not be graded.
  • You are not to be caring for a child (e.g., babysitting) at the time of your observation. Your only task is to observe.
  • Make sure your child is not in passive activities during your observation such as playing video games or watching screens. You won’t get much for your report.  
  • Do not involve yourself in the child’s activities during the observation. Be discreet. Your job is to just observe. If the child approaches and tries to engage you, smile and let him/her continue playing. Tell them you are “doing your homework or hanging out”.
  • You are merely getting a brief snapshot of the child so stay clear of grand assumptions. Be objective when recording behavior (e.g., the child ran X times across the playground and jumped up using both feet 3 consecutive times) as opposed to subjective (e.g., I think s/he was tired because s/he was not running as fast as the other kids – how do you know s/he was tired?; I think the child is a genius because s/he…; I think s/he will have problems later in school because s/he…).
  • Record only the behaviors/skills/abilities you see and hear. I do not need to know what the child did NOT do.
  • If you know the child personally, you will have to work hard to keep any preconceived notions of him/her OUT of the observation report.
  • Use a pseudonym and do not include identifying information (e.g., where the child lives, parent names, what school, last name, etc.).
  • Use full sentences. Do not use bullet points.
  • Be sure to bold the concepts you have chosen.

Step 2: Write the paper

Your paper will:

  • Be 2 pages, double-spaced. Any text beyond the page limit will not be read.
  • Use 12 point, times new roman font
  • Use APA style (1” margins, formatted title page, references page). The title page and references page does not count towards your page limit.

Strong papers have these qualities:

  • define jargon (i.e., special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession, such as “schema” or “scaffold”)
  • provide evidence to support arguments and claims 
  • use professional tone (e.g., avoid contractions, second person, etc.)
  • are proofread for spelling and grammatical errors

Step 3: Submit to Canvas

Acceptable formats: .pdf and .doc.

See the schedule for the due date and read the Turnitin Instructions on how to submit a paper on Canvas. Incomplete papers (e.g., papers that do not have all required sections) will not receive credit. Because this assignment is time sensitive (your peers get one week to review your paper), the consequences for not submitting a complete paper by the deadline are the following:

  • You will not receive points for this section (4 points).
  • You will not be able to complete the peer reviews (6 points).

Be sure you get a pop-up confirmation from Turnitin (you may have enable pop-ups in your browser). If you need assistance, in the top left-hand corner of your Canvas page, under “CSUN”, click on the “Student Canvas Help” link. You can find help on how to submit to turnitin (#8). I will adhere to the time stamps recorded on these websites to reflect the dates & times you submit your work. If you believe there is a problem with the accuracy of how Canvas and turnitin are recording your online behaviors, please contact the tech support of that website before talking with me.

  • Papers must be submitted online through Canvas by the due date.
  • No emailed, faxed, or dropped off copies of papers will be accepted.

Step 4: Complete 2 peer reviews

You have one week to complete this section—see the schedule for the due date. By providing feedback on how well your peers’ papers meet the grading criteria, you will see the paper from my perspective. If the paper does not make sense to you, I likely have the same opinion. You can use this insight to evaluate your paper. The feedback from the peer-review may improve your grade.

  • Read the Turnitin Instructions on how to write a peer review on Canvas.
  • Complete the Peermark assignment by clicking on the Observation Paper. You will be randomly assigned 2 papers to review.
    • Step 1: Read through paper once for clarity and understanding. Provide “macro” notes based on the rubric on the last page of this document (e.g., In order to strengthen your logic/organization/writing/APA style you need to XXXX)
    • Step 2: Re-read and write specific suggestions on the paper (grammar, spelling). Common errors: their/they’re/there, it’s/its, to/two/too
    • Step 3: Assign overall grade out of 30 based on each grading criteria listed at the end of this document. The grade you assign will not impact how I grade papers—it is only used to help your peer. If you give an author 30/30 in your peer review, that means you think there is no room for improvement.
  • Use a respectful tone and provide useful feedback. Comments such as “this is good” are not helpful. If you believe the paper doesn’t need improvement, then talk about the strengths of the paper so that your comments are informative and constructive. However, if you give feedback that the paper is “good” but in fact needs quite a bit of improvement, your grade will suffer.
  • I will not grade this section until your final submissions are submitted to compare your feedback to the final paper.

Step 5: Revise based on peer’s comments

  • Read the Turnitin Instructions on how to read a peer review on Canvas.
  • You have one week to access your original submission and revise your paper before the final submission.
  • Note: If you’re having trouble viewing some content, try using another browser (Chrome, Firefox, Explorer).

Step 6: Submit your final paper

Submit on Canvas. Acceptable formats: .pdf and .doc. See the schedule for the due date.

Grading Rubric

Part 1: Complete First Draft by Due Date (4 pts)

Observation ComponentsPossible Points
Describes physical setting.5
Example of physical development.5
Example of cognitive development.5
Example of socioemotional development.5
Detailed description of child.5
The paper has paragraphs (i.e., not an outline) and is about 2 pages (not including title and references page).5
The paper has a title page.5
The paper has a references page.5
Total Possible Points4

Part 2: Peer Reviews (3 pts each; 6 points total)

Observation ComponentsPossible Points
Provides “macro” notes based on the rubric below (e.g., to strengthen your logic/organization/writing/APA style you need to XXXX)1
Assigned overall grade out of total possible points based on each grading criteria below with explanation1
Feedback improves peer’s paper1
Total Possible Points3

Part 3: Final Draft (30 pts)

Observation ComponentsPossible Points
Start and End time1
Detailed description of the physical setting where the observation took place2
Age of child1
Height of child1
Weight of child1
Detailed description of the child2
Physical Development example (objective and appropriate)2
Physical Development – developmental concept/construct2
Cognitive Development example (objective and appropriate)2
Cognitive Development – developmental concept/construct2
Socioemotional Development example (objective and appropriate)2
Socioemotional Development – developmental concept/construct2
Writing (cohesive, flow, organization, easy to read and follow)2
Mechanics (spelling, grammar/usage, punctuation, etc.)2
APA style (title page and references page in APA style)2
Formatting (page length is adequate and appropriate)2
Reflection (insightful, aware)2
Total Possible Points30