ECE 210: Observation and Assessment in ECE Programs

Course Description

This course is designed to provide an overview of observation and assessment of children in the early childhood classroom, specific to children who are between the ages of 0-5.  Students will learn the purpose and methods of observation and assessment in the early childhood setting and will come to understand NAEYC Guidelines for assessment of young children in early childhood settings.  Students will also learn about state guidelines for early learning. During this course, students will explore the many and varied types of observation tools and will come to understand the integral role these assessment methods play in the cycle of intentional teaching and family involvement.  (3 credits)


  • ECE 101: Introduction to Early Childhood Education
  • ECE 247: Child Development: Birth to Eight

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Charter Oak State College uses the ‘Professional Standards and Competencies for Early Childhood Educators’ to develop its students for work across a variety of early childhood settings. The Student Learning Outcomes (SLO’s) listed below reflect the Professional Standards and Competencies that are focused on in this course.  For a full list of the Professional Standards and Competencies, visit the NAEYC website.

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  1. Communicate understanding of the goals, benefits, and uses of assessment, including its role in developing appropriate goals, curriculum, and teaching strategies for young children. (Standard 3a, 3d)
  2. Engage in guided practice of classroom observation and identify the various uses of assessment, explaining how assessment may be used in positive ways and how inappropriate assessment may harm children and their families. (Standard 3a)
  3. Plan and implement research-based knowledge, demonstrating competence in observation, documentation, and the use of current appropriate assessment tools, including technology, to gather and share information with families and professional colleagues. (Standards 3b, 3c)
  4. Observe children with objectivity, fairness, and absence of bias. (Standard 3c)
  5. Explain the value and importance of practicing responsible assessment to promote positive outcomes for each child. (Standard 3d)

Course Activities and Grading


Discussions (8 discussions)


Assignments (1-9 and 11 observation assignments)


Assignment 10 (Key Assessment)


Reflections (3 reflections)




Required Textbooks

Course Schedule


NAEYC Professional Standards

Course Topics

Readings / Assignments



Introduction: Observation and Assessment / Ethics in Observation

  • Observation and Assessment: The Key to Intentional Teaching
  • Quality Counts

Readings and/or Videos:

  • Read Course syllabus.
  • Read Week 1 lecture.
  • Read Peterson and Elam, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.
  • Read: What is observing?
  • Read ‘Who is watching? Thinking Ethically about Observing Children
  • Watch videos on observation and assessment


  • Discussion
  • Observation Assignment 1
  • Reflection 1



Being Intentional / Developing Skills to Observe

  • Using observation methods.
  • Objective writing in observations.
  • Descriptive writing in observations.

Readings and/or Videos:

  • Read Week 2 lecture.
  • Read Peterson and Elam, Chapter 3
  • Read: Objective Writing in Observations
  • Read: Descriptive Writing in Observations 
  • Read: Think before you (inter) Act, by Ann S. Epstein


  • Discussion
  • Observation Assignment 2
  • Observation Assignment 3



Using Positive Language and Analyzing Observations

  • How to plan effective and meaningful curriculum.
  • Using documentation and assessment to communicate with families.
  • Using positive language
  • Words to avoid in writing observations
  • Analyzing observations: How and when to analyze

Readings and/or Videos:

  • Read Week 3 lecture
  • Read Peterson and Elam, Chapters 5 and 6
  • Read ‘Positive Language’
  • Read ‘Analyzing Observations’


  • Discussion
  • Observation Assignment 4




Methods of Observation

  • The purpose of monitoring and screening young children
  • Event Sampling
  • Running Records
  • Anecdotal Records
  • Checklists and Rating Scales
  • Temperament

Readings and/or Videos

  • Read Week 4 Lecture
  • Read Peterson and Elam, Chapter 3.4
  • Read Peterson and Elam, Chapter 4
  • Read: ABC Event Sampling Methods
  • Read ‘Running Records’
  • Read ‘Anecdotal Records’
  • Checklists and Rating Scales


  • Discussion
  • Observation Assignment 5
  • Reflection 2



Methods of Observation and Assessment

  • ELDS or other rating scales
  • DOTS or other assessment tools

Readings and/or Videos:

  • Review weekly lecture.
  • Review ‘Checklists and Rating Scales’
  • Read CT ELDS- A Valuable Tool to support learning.
  • Read ECERS-R
  • Review: Peterson & Elam, section 2.8


  • Discussion
  • Observation Assignment 6
  • Observation Assignment 7




Meaningful Curriculum and Observing Play

  • What is curriculum?
  • Benefits of meaningful curriculum
  • Teacher’s role
  • Planning cycle
  • Assessing cognitive and social development

Readings and/or Videos

  • Review weekly lecture.
  • Read Peterson and Elam, Chapter 5
  • Watch videos
  • Review Rating Scale documents


  • Discussion
  • Observation 8
  • Observation 9



Supporting Children’s Learning

  • Documentation boards
  • Assessing children’s development
  • Family conferences
  • Observing and Assessing play

Readings and/or Videos

  • Read Week 7 Lecture
  • Watch videos


  • Discussion
  • Observation 10: Key Assessment



ECERS and Communicating with Families

  • Program Evaluations
  • Rating Scales
  • Communicating with families

Readings and/or Videos

  • Read Chapter 8 Lecture
  • Review Peterson and Elam, Chapter 6 Review: ‘Early Childhood Rating Scale Third Edition’


  • Discussion
  • Observation 11

COSC Accessibility Statement

Charter Oak State College encourages students with disabilities, including non-visible disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning disabilities, head injury, attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, or psychiatric disabilities, to discuss appropriate accommodations with the Office of Accessibility Services at

COSC Policies, Course Policies, Academic Support Services and Resources

Students are responsible for knowing all Charter Oak State College (COSC) institutional policies, course-specific policies, procedures, and available academic support services and resources. Please see COSC Policies for COSC institutional policies, and see also specific policies related to this course. See COSC Resources for information regarding available academic support services and resources.