ECED 438: Observation and Documentation in Early Childhood Settings

Course Outline (Online 3.0 credits)


  • There is no exam
  • Four Assignments
  • Six (short) Lesson Activities integrated with online participation through discussion board sessions

This course is eligible for Credit/D/Fail grading. To determine whether you can take this course for Credit/D/Fail grading, visit the Credit/D/Fail website. You must register in the course before you can select the Credit/D/Fail grading option.


This online course presents basic techniques of observation and documentation. This includes pedagogical documentation, as well as recording and interpreting the different skills and behaviours of young children (birth to age 8 years old) and using this information to then integrate children’s individual profiles. The information collected will be used for educational guidance following developmentally appropriate practices in a diversity of early childhood settings.

ECED 438 is a core course in the Diploma in Early Years Education and the BC ECE Basic Certificate Program. This course is an elective for the Certificate in Early Years Education.


This online course has been designed for preschool, Kindergarten and elementary teachers, as well as for other professionals; for example, infant and supported child development consultants, social workers, family workers and nurses working in the child development area. As a participant of this course you will:

  1. Acquire, develop and practice effective observation, recording and interpretation skills within the early child development/ early childhood educational contexts.
  2. Understand the role of observation and narratives within pedagogical documentation and authentic assessment practices.
  3. Gain knowledge and develop criteria to evaluate the effectiveness of observational strategies frequently used by teachers in classrooms and early childhood settings, including daycares, out-of-school cares and other settings and programs.
  4. Become knowledgeable about child development milestones between infancy and the Primary school years, and understand the continuum of development – typical and atypical.
  5. Develop an understanding of the uniqueness of each child.
  6. Gain improved understanding of the types of child behaviours that develop out of certain encounters with materials and peers in a variety of different play environment and grouping situations, including the child’s home and family environments.
  7. Recognize family of origin and ethno-cultural factors, and how they impact on the attitudes, beliefs, values, behaviour and interactions of young children.
  8. Recognize parents as partners in education as they provide unique, on-going observations of their children.
  9. Use information provided by on-going observations when handling behavioural problems; when settling conflicts between children; and when dealing with potentially harmful, unsafe or dangerous situations.


This course is offered online on Canvas –

1 Reflections on observation and documentation
2 Learning about the different ways to observe: methods of observation and documentation
3 Paying attention to developmental milestones: what, how, when in the early years
4 Paying attention to developmental milestones: what, how, when during the school years
5 Children with additional needs
6 Observing social and emotional development in young children
7 Observing and documenting how children communicate
8 Understanding playfulness; documenting children while at play
9 Observing and understanding creativity through expressions of visual arts and music
10 Observing in partnership and collaboration with parents/caregivers and other service providers
11 Through the child’s eyes: ethno-cultural identities, family and community values shape our observation and documentation practices
12 Challenges in observation and documentation: safety, abuse and/or neglect

Required articles and readings for each week are provided in the course modules which are accessible through the online Library Course Reserve in the course.


Call the UBC Bookstore to order: 604.822.2665, or toll-free in North America: 1.800.661.3889 or
Order online:

  • Nilsen, Barbara Ann. Week by Week: Plans for Documenting Children’s Development Seventh Edition. Wadsworth Publishing, 2013. ISBN 9781305501003


This is an online course. Students are required to have a computer, access to the Internet, and a Campus Wide Login ID and password to access the course website.

Students need to download the web conference app through Canvas (Collaborate) application launcher to connect via web conference with the instructor when check in sessions are scheduled or to listen to the recorded version. In addition, students should have QuickTime Player or equivalent software installed on their computer to watch video clips.


Your EZproxy connection will allow you to access library resources from your computer on or off campus. For more information, go to


Telephone: 604.822.2013, or toll-free in North America: 1.888.492.1122

Latest Revision on: November 5, 2019