My Notes – Early Childhood Education Diploma » Blog Archive » Narrative Observation

Narrative observation is the most popular, oldest, and most informative method to record observation done on child. It attempts to record everything that happens.

Anecdotal records

  • Brief narrative
  • Describes what happen, how, where and when it happened in a factual objective manner
  • Records after the observation, therefore a camcorder is recommended to ensure nothing is being left out
  • Qualitative in nature
  • Provides clear, true-life account
  • Conclusion in past tense


  • No special training
  • Open-ended, record everything not restricted to one kind of behaviour
  • Catch unexpected incident no matter when it occurs
  • Look for and record the significant behaviour and ignore the rest
  • Rich source of documentation for charting developmental growth, such as language development
  • Useful for curriculum and instruction planning, designing environment, an writing summaries for portfolios and useful for parents conference


  • Does not give complete picture
  • Depend too much on memory as it’s recorded after the event
  • Incident taken out of contest, interpreted incorrectly or in a biased manner
  • Difficult to code/analyze narrative record, not useful in scientific studies

Running records

  • Detailed narrative in sequential manner
  • Sits or stands apart from the children and write everything at specific period
  • Does not interpret any specific information
  • Qualitative in nature
  • Conclusion in past tense


  • Rich, complete, comprehensive record not limited to particular incident
  • Open-ended, record anything, not restricted
  • Written at the time the incident happens, more accurate
  • No need special skill
  • Can be referred to throughout the year
  • Useful instructional planning


  • Time consuming
  • Might be interrupted by the children along the way and cannot record accurately
  • Not suitable for observing a group
  • Keep away from the children but it’s not easy for a teacher

Common observer errors:

  • Insufficient evidence
  • Omitting some facts
  • Record things that did not happen
  • Record things out of order


  • Record only the facts
  • Record every details without omitting anything
  • Do not interpret what you observe
  • Do not record anything you do no see
  • Use words that describe and not judge or interpret
  • Record facts in order
This entry was posted on Monday, April 13th, 2009 at 5:34 pm and is filed under Observation & Assessment of Young Children. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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