How to Observe
Each classroom is equipped with a private observation booth that lines the length of the classroom. Inside the observation booth, one-way mirrors allow observers to see the entire classroom, and headsets and microphones allow observers to hear the children, students and teachers interacting.
The best times to observe are between 7:30am and noon and from 3:00pm to 5:30pm. If the children are outside, please go through the classroom to access the playyard. Let a teacher know that you are there to observe. Benches are scattered throughout the playyard.
If you are observing from the booth, you do not need to check in with the office. However, if you have questions feel free to ask the director in 31 Stanley Hall or the administrative assistant in 67 Stanley Hall.
- Understand that everything you see or hear is confidential. All information obtained for class projects, research or other scholarly purposes is confidential within legal limitations.
- Do not engage in conversations with other observers about the program, the staff or the children you are observing. Staff, children or parents may overhear your comments, positive or negative.
- Understand that you are observing for a short period of time and you may not fully understand the dynamics of the situation that you are observing (previous history, what happened five minutes before you arrived, etc.). A good observer reports on the situation objectively and leaves subjective interpretations out.
- For best results, have an observation tool (e.g. rating scale, score sheet, etc.) to guide the observation process. Observation tools enable you to be more objective.
- Spend the first 15 minutes orienting yourself to the environment. Tune in to what you should be observing. Remember that it is easy to get off track and lose focus.
- Observers should not interfere in any way. Please be as unobtrusive as possible.
- Do not engage in conversations with the people you are observing. Let them know that they should carry on with their normal everyday tasks and activities. If you need to interview staff it is best practice to schedule an appointment.
- If observing outdoors, observers should station themselves around the perimeter of the environment, as unobtrusively as possible. You may move around the perimeter to get a better vantage point during the observation.
- Please refrain from talking with other observers while you are in the observation environment. Take notes on a pad and/or on your scoresheet to help in scoring and forming questions that need to be asked (if applicable). Remember that this is not a "social time."
- You may acknowledge children if they approach you, but do not otherwise take part in what is going on. If the children want to know what you are doing, you may let them know that you are working, watching them play, etc.
- Do not leave trash, candy wrappers, soda cans, etc. in the observation booth.
Scheduling a Tour
The CDL has an open-door policy and the observation booths are always open for students, parents, faculty and staff to observe. However, if you are interested in scheduling an observation time for your class, please complete a Tour Request.
MU Child Development Lab
University of Missouri
31 Stanley Hall
Columbia, MO 65211