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Types of observations

Check lists

Check lists are primarily descriptive and indicate the presence or absence of a characteristic. They provide basic information on a wide range of behavior and characteristics. Checklists are most appropriate for answering yes/no items or for documenting a large number of behaviors in a short period of time.

Example

The instructor stated the purpose of the lesson/lecture.

__ Yes
__ No

Scaled ratings

Scaled ratings are more precise measures that indicate the degree to which a characteristic or behavior is present or true. The most commonly used scales have five points with a mid-point that indicates neutrality or "average."  [more] 

Example:

The instructor related the ideas presented to prior knowledge

Very poor Weak Average Good Excellent
1 2 3 4 5

Interval observations

Interval observations record the frequency of a behavior or characteristic. An observer documents what is taking place in the classroom or instructional program at regularly timed intervals (e.g., every five minutes). Behaviors are documented using a checklist or a scaled rating system.

Example

Instructor Behavior Time
5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50
Lecturing                    
Asking questions                    
Answering questions                    
Discussion with students                    
Explaining assignments                    

Narrative comments

Narrative comments or notes are part of observations. Observation forms may include space after each item for the observer to explain the rating or there may be space at the end of the form for general comments. Observers may record additional comments/notes immediately following the observation to supplement those taken during class.

Example

9:00 a.m.
Class begins promptly with all but five students present. Dr. Paderas reviews the last lecture and presents the objectives for this class: understanding the possible causes and treatments for schizophrenia. She asks if there are questions about the previous lecture, and one student asks about the difference between dissociative identity disorder and schizophrenia. Dr. Paderas briefly describes dissociative identity disorder and explains key differences from schizophrenia, saying that she will provide more detail in today's lecture…

Page last updated: Sep 21 2011
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