Listen to a conversation between a student and his psychology professor
Good afternoon, Alex, can I help you with something?
Well, I want to talk with you about the research project you assigned today.
I um... I hope you could clarify a few things for me.
I'll certainly try.
Ok, all we have to do is do two observations and take notes on them, right?
[Hesitant—assignment involves more than this] That’s a start —but you need to do some research, too.
Then you will write a paper that is not so much about the observations, but a synthesis of what you have observed and read.
[Doesn’t quite understand] OK…and what about the children I am supposed to observe?
Not ‘children’—a single child, observed twice.
[With recognition] Oh! OK. So I should choose a child—with a permission of a child's parent, of course—and then observe that child a couple of times and take good notes, then?
Actually, after your first observation, you’ll go back and look through your textbook or go to the library and find a few sources concerning the stage of development this particular child is in.
And then with that knowledge, you will make a second observation of the same child to see if these expected developmental behaviors are exhibited.
Can you give me an example?
Well, um, if you observed a 4 year-old child, for example, my daughter is 4 years old; you might read up on Piaget's stages of cognitive development we covered those in class.
Uh, most likely, what stage would a child of that age be in?
Um... the pre-operational stage?
Exactly, if that's the case, her languages use would be maturing and her memory and imagination would be developed [interrupted]
So she might play pretend like she can pretend when driving her toy car across a couch that the couch is actually a bridge or something.
That is right. In addition, her thinking would be primarily egocentric.
So she would be thinking mostly about herself and her own needs, and might not be able to see things from anyone else's perspective.
[Affırmative] En hums...
But…what if she doesn’t? I mean, what if she doesn't demonstrate those behaviors?
That's fine. You'll note that in your paper.
See, your paper should compare what is expected of children at certain stages of development with what you actually observed.
Ok, I have one more question now.
And what's that?
Where can I find a child to observe?
Er, I’d suggest you contact the education department secretary.
She has a list of contacts at various schools and with certain families who are somehow connected to the university.
Sometimes they are willing to help out students with projects like yours.
Ok, I'll stop by the education department office this afternoon.
And if you have any trouble or any more questions, feel free to come by during my office hours.