Improving Observation Skills

Writing the Evaluation

What is evaluation?

There are several ways to discuss what you think.

Understanding Evaluation.


A television programme I enjoy is Teletubbies. It is a programme for small children which has four chubby, cuddly characters. They are called Tinkywinky, Dipsey, Laa Laa and Po. Tinkywinky is purple, Dipsey is green, Laa Laa is yellow and Po is red. Teletubbies each have a television screen in their tummy. During the programme one will light up to show some children playing. The Teletubbies live in a dome in a field full of flowers and rabbits. They have a friend called The Noo Noo who is a blue vacuum cleaner. Teletubbies like to dance, give each other a big hug and talk baby language. "Eh-oh!"

What is EXAMPLE 1?

Is this a report?
Is this an opinion?
Is this an evaluation?

Example 2

In my view Teletubbies is a really excellent programme and I enjoy it. I think that everyone should watch Teletubbies. I consider they are marvellous. I am convinced Teletubbies is an exceptionally good experience. In my opinion this fantastic wonderful programme must appeal to people of all ages. My feeling is that no one should miss this amazing television spectacle. According to my personal theory everyone will be as fascinated as I am. I believe Teletubbies are really cool.

What is EXAMPLE 2?

Is this a report?
Is this an opinion?
Is this an evaluation?

Example 3

I enjoy the Teletubbies programme, because Teletubbies act like real toddlers. They walk in the same way that Mary Sheridan describes a child aged 15 months, "unevenly with feet wide apart, arms slightly flexed to balance." They talk in a baby language; mispronouncing words such as "eh-oh". They use immature words such as "byebyes" and repeat phrases such as "all gone." Teletubbies refer to themselves by their own name. Eg. "Laa Laa's ball" instead of saying "my ball". Mary Sheridan says, a child of 2 years of age "refers to himself/herself by name". (Sheridan 1991 pages 6-8) Some people insist Teletubby speech is detrimental to children's language development. I disagree with this view as I observed children laugh when a Teletubbie says "No" or "Wazat?" Children relate to Teletubbies and like watching a short television extract with them. Teletubbies have a television screen in their tummy that shows extracts of children playing and learning new vocabulary. Others agree with my opinion since the programme is screened daily. The reason could be it looks attractive with green rolling hills, a smiling baby's face in the sunshine, pale coloured flowers and rabbits.
Sheridan M (1991) The Developmental Progress of Infants and Young Children London HMSO

What is EXAMPLE 3?

Is this a report?
Is this an opinion?
Is this an evaluation?

The evaluation explains what you have observed.

Evaluation discusses reasons and is supported by evidence from experts or experience.

Now you know what it is, you need to know how to write it!

Writing the Evaluation!

The criteria to include in an evaluation of an observation of a child's development.

  1. Evaluating the observation of the children
    • Explain the observation by evaluating the child's development.
    • Focus on the aim and draw conclusions about the child's development you observed.
    • Try to be fair and objective in your conclusions. Remember they are based on one short observation.
  2. Assess the child's stage of development
    • Assess the child's stage of development - give reasons for your assessment.
    • Assess the extent to which the child's development is within the range of the norm - give reasons for your comments.
    • Make reasoned judgements as to the likely cause of the child's development progress.
    • Suggest reasons for the child's development and behaviour.
    • Include references to child development experts to support your opinion.
  3. Personal learning
    • What have you learned from the observation about child development?
    • What have you learned about this child or children?
  4. Helping the child to progress
    • Suggest ways to help the child progress to the next stage of development.
    • Recommend a referral for assessment by another professional.
    • What needs have you identified for this child?
    • What action can you take to meet the needs of the child.
    • How can you develop the child's skills and talents?
    • Suggest specific activities to help this child.
  5. Equal opportunities - include specific examples to demonstrate your understanding.
    • Show how you provide for the individual needs of every child.
    • Discuss how to give empowerment by allowing each child to make their wishes known.
    • Show how you provide flexibility to include children who have a special need.
    • Demonstrate your understanding of race, religion and gender issues.
  6. Knowledge of child development theory
    • Demonstrate knowledge of child development theory to validate your ideas.
    • Use relevant quotations from textbooks and other sources to show your research.
    • A good evaluation shows a detailed analysis of the child's development.
  7. Include a Bibliography and a list of References.

Criteria to include in an evaluation

  1. Evaluating the observation of the children
  2. Assess the child's stage of development
  3. Personal learning
  4. Helping the child to progress
  5. Equal opportunities - include specific examples to demonstrate your understanding.
  6. Knowledge of child development theory
  7. Bibliography and References.

An example of an evaluation.

A easy way to evaluate the observation is to focus on the aim and identify any statement in the observation that relates to the aim.

To observe Jason's gross motor skills during outdoor play.

Jason puts on his coat and hat. He walks quickly out of the cloakroom and into the school outdoor play area. In this school the reception class children have their own outdoor play area so they can use large equipment safely. Jason has a confident upright posture and moves easily.

He looks towards the climbing frame and sees there is no one there. He runs quickly and lightly on his toes. He laughs as he runs and seems excited. His movement is well co-ordinated and purposeful. He swerves easily to avoid another child who is running towards him. Jason seems to enjoy moving quickly. He reaches the climbing frame and stops moving. He shows good control as he stops suddenly. Jason looks at the climbing frame and starts to climb the bars using alternate feet, placing one foot on each step.

There is no member of staff near the climbing frame. I move nearer to supervise him climbing in case of an accident. Jason grins to me as he reaches the top and easily climbs over the rail on to the slide. He sits down on to the slide and lets go of the sides. He laughs as he slides down. At the bottom he jumps off the slide and runs around to climb up again. He repeats this several times.

After a while, he notices some other children playing with a large ball. He walks towards them and asks if he can join their game. They are in a circle with one child in the centre who is throwing the ball to named children around the circle. Each child in turn tries to catch the ball and throw it back to the child in the centre. It is a game the class had played earlier in the week in PE.

The children nod to agree Jason can play with the ball and make a space for him in the circle. A child named Tom who is in the centre shouts "Jason" and throws the ball to Jason. Jason watches the ball and holds out his arms ready to catch the ball. He catches it easily and laughs as he throws it back to Tom. He shows good ball control as he throws it underarm towards Tom. Tom catches the ball and grins at Jason.

When the class teacher says there is 5 minutes of playtime left, Jason runs towards the climbing frame. He spends the time in climbing and sliding down the climbing frame. This time there are other children using the equipment so Jason has to wait his turn. He smiles and chats to the other children. As playtime ends, Jason is slightly breathless and smiling as he jumps from the slide and runs to join the line of children waiting to go back into school. He waits quietly with the other children until it is his turn to go in.

Click for a demonstration of how to start the evaluation

Focus on the aim and use the observation as evidence for the evaluation.

Now use this information from the observation to write the evaluation.

You will need to research:
  • physical development
  • gross motor skills
  • sequence of development of gross motor skills in 4-5 year old children
  • ways to promote gross motor skills in young children
  • search for information in college notes, text books, journals, internet etc.
  • remember to note where to find the references you use

Include all the criteria for an evaluation.
  1. Evaluating the observation of the children
  2. Assess the child's stage of development
  3. Personal learning
  4. Helping the child to progress
  5. Equal opportunities - include specific examples to demonstrate your understanding.
  6. Knowledge of child development theory
  7. Bibliography and References.

Click for a demonstration of an evaluation

Now have the confidence to practice your evaluation skills.

Don't Panic!
You do not have to read everything!
1 or 2 carefully chosen quotations will demonstrate your knowledge of child development theory.

Return to the introduction