Language Development: Observation Assignment Details Overview

Your observation assignment will be based on a single observation of a child, involving the collection of language data. The instructions below offer tips and guidelines from choosing your participant to writing your report. 

Step 1: Choose a partner and a participant, get a consent form signed

• Can be any child within the age ranges of the assignments, below, as long as you have parental permission
• Think about family, friends, neighbours, etc., RYERSON’S ELC NOT PERMITTED
• NOTE: the child you choose will in part determine your topic, because not all topics relate to the same developmental stages (see topics, below)
• I have put this option first, because for many of you you may not have a wide range of options for ages, so it is best to ensure you have a participants, first.
Step 2: Choose a Topic and Collect Data
NOTE: Please follow these guidelines in your data collection:
• Use a small device to record – DO NOT USE OR EVEN BRING A LAPTOP
• Avoid the use of any technology in child’s activities – no computers, electronic toys, etc.
• Setting: do not collect data in a room or adjacent to a room with a television playing or other children playing, or video games being played, etc. Please avoid all major distractions (although it is understood that day to day life will be going on, please avoid these major attention getters)

  1. Phonological Development: 12-24 months
    1.1. Audiorecord a child interacting with an adult (either your partner or a parent) for 3-5 minutes (or longer if the child is not producing a lot of sounds) while playing or reading a book together.
    1.2. Take observational notes of what is going on in the interaction.
    1.3. Transcribe everything you hear – whether they are individual sounds, syllables or words. 
    1.4. Classify the sounds and words according to the categories in Chapter 3: sound play, conversational babble, protowords and words
    1.5. In your report, include commentary in your results on how easily or not the sounds and words fit into these categories.
    1.6. Main research question: what types of sounds and words does a toddler make and what is the most frequent category?
  2. Semantic Development: 18-30 months
    2.1. Audiorecord a child talking in interaction with an adult (either the parent or your partner) for (or longer if the child is not talking a lot) while playing together or looking at a book (2-3 mins) and playing together with a toy (2-3 mins) (you bring both)
    2.2. Take observational notes of what is going on in the interaction
    2.3. Transcribe the interaction into two separate documents (toy and book), and try your best to represent how the child pronounced words, even if this is inaccurate. Do not transcribe the actual text of the book if the adult reads it – only the conversation around the book and literally everything that the child says (whether it is a real word or not).
    2.4. Analyze the words that the child has used according to the following categories: total number of words, total number of different words, total number of nouns, verbs and adjectives, types of semantic categories you can come up with (group the words together, as in “furniture”, “animals”, etc., with reference to chapter 4. 
    2.5. Summarize your results with these categories as headers in a table, to be included in an appendix.
    2.6. Main research question: did the child use more words, or a broader variety of words, in one of these two interactions (toy versus book)?
  3. Language in social contexts: 3 years-8 years
    3.1. Audiorecord a child playing in a pretend play situation with two different people: an adult (your partner or a parent) and another child (could be a sibling, or another child at a centre, but do note that you’d need two consent forms in the case of a centre) for 3-5 mins each.
    3.2. Take observational notes of everything that goes on, both in play and in the social interaction between the two people
    3.3. Transcribe the interactions into two separate documents. Make sure to put each sentence on a separate line (transcription instructions will be posted on BB)
    3.4. Analyze each sentence to see what its speech act is, as discussed in chapter 6: request (indirect and direct), imperative (telling someone what to do), giving and responding to feedback, initiations (making comments and statements), repetition of other person, taking turns (effectively or not?)
    3.5. You may find it helpful to summarize the number of these in a table in an appendix, and then discuss them qualitatively in your results.
    3.6. Main research question: was the child more communicatively competent in one of these two interactions?

Step 3: Writing the report
• Sections for the report are as follows: 
o Introduction/Background (1.5-2 pages): write a paragraph on the topic, explaining key terms and why we are interested in this topic, then write about one study, in which you describe what their findings were and how they relate to you the work you will do. You will find one-two articles on D2L from which you can choose, or you can look up your own article (if you do so, it needs to be approved by me).
 At the end of the section, state a clear research goal, such as “this study will examine the phonological development of a 10 month old child…”, etc.
o Methods (1.5-2 pages): explain what you did, including:
 Time, place, setting, materials, age of child(ren)
 What procedures you carried out with the child, and information on anyone else who may have been involved
 Transcription information as well as any scoring or analysis that you performed
o Results (1.5-2 pages): describe what you found
 It may be helpful for you to use tables to summarize quantities of information, or other visual presentations of your data
 Describe patterns that you discovered
 Summarize information in an interpretable way, using totals and percentages if that is appropriate to your topic
o Discussion (approximately 1.5-2 pages)
 Discuss your findings in terms of two key components: your readings/theory, etc., and research findings in the article.
Report Writing and Submission Guidelines (marks deducted for any violations):
• Overall length: 6-8 pages (see marking scheme for rough breakdown)
• Use your own language and DO NOT PARAPHRASE (we will discuss this in class)
• Do not use any direct quotations (other than terminology or test names) in your assignment. This means that you will cite sources in-text as you write your paper, but you will not use the words of the author. Doing so will result in a loss of marks.
• NOTE: you are not permitted to quote my lecture notes or things that I said orally in class. You are to refer to the textbook or articles only, including page number. Your integration of course content must be specific and easily trackable by myself.
• 12 point font (Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana or Trebuchet), 
• Double spaced, 1-inch margins
• APA formatting: