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PSYCH109 - Developmental Psychology - Childhood - Palmieri: Your Assignment

Your Assignment

Observation Paper

Conduct a naturalistic observation of a child in a public place without interacting with him/her.  Remember this means you keep your distance and do not speak to the child or guardians.  Write a four (4) page paper (four pages of writing plus a references page) in APA format making observations and applying theories from your textbook.  Remember to include theories (Piaget, Erickson, etcetera) relating to physical, cognitive, social and emotional development.  Remember the purpose of this assignment is to prove to the professor you understand the theories in child development and you can apply them to the child you observed.  You may have to make several inferences to speak about the physical, cognitive, social and emotional development of the child you observed. Be sure to include them all!


Evaluations will be based on overall clarity (25%), research content (discussing physical, cognitive, social and emotional development) (50%), and use of APA style (25%).

The paper should include in-text citations and a bibliography according to APA format.

See the Finding Articles page for information about what a professional journal article is.


You can get help with your research project from a librarian either by going to the library in person or emailing the librarian who taught your research session (see Get Help tab).


For additional information on your assignment and due dates ask Professor Palmieri.

Observation tips and guides

Observational Research


Naturalistic observation is a technique used to collect behavioral data in real-life situations as opposed to laboratory or other controlled settings. This technique is most useful when little is known about the matter under consideration. Underlying the interpretation of data obtained through this procedure is the assumption that the investigator did not interfere with the natural order of the situation. 

(Bishop, E. G. (2002). Naturalistic Observation. In N. J. Salkind (Ed.), Child Development (pp. 283-284). New York, NY: Macmillan Reference USA. Retrieved from


An observational study is one in which participants or outcomes are observed in a natural experiment where conditions are not assigned by the researcher.

An observational study is one in which the researcher does not experimentally manipulate the conditions of interest, but instead relies on observing participants in a more natural way. The term observation study encompasses a wide range of data collection methodologies.

...[A]  type of observational study is one in which the researcher observes participants in their natural habitat instead of in the lab. For example, a researcher who is interested in social interactions among pre-school children might go to a playground or record video of children playing in a nursery school and then code that data for variables of interest such as gender, number and type of interactions or other variables relevant to the researcher's hypothesis. Here again the researcher does not assign participants to conditions, but instead observes what the participants choose to do without experimenter intervention.

Observational Study. (2016). In J. L. Longe (Ed.), The Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology (3rd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 825-826). Farmington Hills, MI: Gale. Retrieved from

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