Scientific Disciplinary Sector (SSD)
M-PSI/04 - DEVELOPMENTAL AND EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY
Language of instruction
On the whole, this course is aimed to: (a) provide students with theoretical and instrumental knowledge about observational methods and techniques that can be profitably used in both research and educational practice; (b) foster the familiarization with the main techniques for observing children’s behavior during interaction with peers and adults in different educational contexts (family, day-care, preschool, primary school).
The specific aims, expressed as expected learning results, are the followings:
1 - Knowledge and understanding of observation as research method and technique to collect data, of the main issues related to observational process, and the different theoretical perspectives which rely on observation as main research method.
2 - Theoretical and instrumental knowledge of the different observational techniques based on direct and indirect observation, data analysis, and evaluation of reliability and validity of observational data.
3 - Ability to apply the acquired knowledge and skills either in a research context or in educational contexts, using observational techniques to:
- increase knowledge of particular social dynamics, or subjects and/or groups of subjects;
- analyse education needs and available resources in order to build aimed educational projects;
- evaluate the effectiveness of an educational programme.
4 - Ability to integrate different observational perspectives, according to the aim of data collection.
5 - Ability to build research reports, and communicate in a clear and effective way, also to non specialist audiences, research findings.
The course is organized in two parts. The first one, focused on theories, includes an introduction to observation either as a research method or as a technique to collect data, a discussion on basic epistemological issues related to observation, and the outline of the main theoretical perspectives that use observation as a main research method.
The second, larger part focused on techniques, includes the presentation and the exemplifying application of the main observational techniques (narrative report, check-list, coding system, rating scale, Q-sort), some “indirect observation” techniques (questionnaires for parents and teachers, sociometric techniques), and an introduction to data analysis.
Lessons will be structured in theoretical presentations, discussions, exercises, and video observation and analysis aimed to apply the different observational techniques. Some lessons will be devoted to lab activities.
The preparation for the exam includes the study of an handbook of observational methods (1), a book on techniques and tools to be used in educational contexts (2), a little book on descriptive data analysis (3), and a research article based on an observational method (4):
1) Camaioni, L., Aureli, T., e Perucchini, P. (2004). Osservare e valutare il comportamento infantile. Bologna: Il Mulino.
2) Elia, L., e Cassibba, R. (2009). Valutare le competenze sociali. Strumenti e tecniche per l’età prescolare. Roma: Carocci.
3) Rossi, G. (2010, II reprint). Statistica descrittiva per psicologi. Roma: Carocci (Le Bussole).
4) A research article based on an observational method, selected according to personal interest among articles published either in Developmental Psychology or Child Development (both available in Frinzi library).
Finally, not attending students are also recommended to practise by using the following book of exercises: Cassibba, R., e Salerni, N. (2004). Osservare i bambini: Tecniche ed esercizi. Roma: Carocci (Le Bussole).
Oral exam, possibly integrated with a written exercise. Requests to describe (to assess knowledge), to discuss (to assess understanding and ability to relate different pieces of information), and to apply the acquired knowledge to specific educational contexts (to assess the ability to translate knowledge in practice) will be included in the exam.
Evaluation will be focused on:
- understanding and ability to elaborate knowledge;
- ability to communicate in a clear and effective way, also by using an adequate terminology.