The goal of most if not all observation assignments that you will be complete are to be as objective as possible.  This can be a task that requires practice, so consider the following when observing or writing observation papers.


“No two people will see the same child in identical ways.  Two open and honest teachers can be asked to observe the same child.  What they see and the interpretation they make will depend on what they decide to look for and on their own particular perspectives.”  (Martin, S., Take a Look, 2007).


Objective Subjective
Descriptions of what is observed provide the facts and details with as little interpretation as possible.  The objective observer will seek to record simply what they see without offering any opinion. 

Example: There was a crowd of about 50 people in front of the museum

Descriptions of your observations are influenced by past events, opinions, background or personal experience. 

Example: There was an inpatient crowd of about 50 people waiting endlessly to enter into the museum.


Are these descriptions objective or subjective?


1. Sarah puts dishes on table for the bear and the doll and says “you…one…you…one…ME!”


2. Julie sets the table, probably imitating how it happens at home.


3. Zack has been crying because he misses his mom and is afraid she won’t come back. He clings to his blanket for comfort.


4. Luis kisses his mom goodbye and smiles. He cries after the preschool door closes and then crawls on Ms. S’s lap.



(Answers: 1.  Objective, 2. Subjective, 3.  Subjective, 4.  Objective)


Reflecting on observation notes

  • Remember that we observed a child at only one point in time and we should therefore avoid jumping to conclusions.
  • We each have our own “filters” (values, beliefs, or feelings) that influence how we interpret that which we observed.  It is important to reflect on these filters in order to seek a more objective observation experience (both in observing and recording).