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EC-S2: Ability to gather, document, and share information about the performance of individual children in all developmental domains under the direction of a licensed professional.

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Related ConceptStrategy: Collecting Data Using Time Sampling Observation

A picture of an educator who is writing on a clipboardTime sampling is another technique used to gather and record data about children’s development and learning. This information can be used to provide baseline data about a child’s behavior and development as well as to show any increases or decreases in the frequency of certain behaviors. Time sampling is often used when educators want to gather information about the frequency of children’s challenging behaviors.

Time sampling can be used with almost any child in almost any situation. What you need to keep in mind, however, is that different typesof time sampling procedures should be used to observe different behaviors. Whole-interval time sampling is used for behaviors that continue for longer periods of time without interruption. Whole-interval time sampling should generally be used to observe behaviors such as time engaged in an activity or time off task. Partial-interval time sampling should be used for fleeting behaviors such as eye contact, smiling, or hitting. Momentary time sampling can generally be used to observe almost any behavior.

The whole-interval, partial-interval, and momentary time sampling techniques have been shown to be effective. They are especially useful because data about child behavior are collected in a uniform and systematic way. This data can then be shared with other professionals within the early childhood setting and should help to create and/or alter curriculum or interventions for the child.

A picture of a section of a Time Sampling Record Sheet

Summary of Strategy

After deciding upon which time sampling technique to use (whole-interval, partial-interval, or momentary), an observer watches a child for a set time and places tally marks on a recording sheet to mark the occurrence of certain behaviors.

Strategy: Step-By-Step

  1. Talk to your teacher or supervisor and make sure you know exactly what behavior to observe.
  2. Discuss with your teacher or supervisor which type of time sampling observation you should use (whole-interval, partial-interval, or momentary).
  3. Decide how long you want to observe (i.e., 30 minutes, a class period, a school day, etc.).
  4. Fill out the top part of your Time Sampling Record Sheet, including the child’s name, the date, and the behavior you will be observing.
  5. Position yourself so that you can easily see the clock (if you do not have a watch) and the child. Try not to make it obvious that you are observing, because if the child knows you are doing an observation, he or she may act differently simply because of the knowledge that he or she is being watched.
  6. On your Time Sampling Record Sheet, find the 10-minute interval that corresponds to the time of your observation. For instance, if you begin your observation at 8 a.m. , then start in the first box ( 8:00 – 8:09 ). If you begin your observation at 1:20 p.m. , then start in the 1:20 – 1:29 box.
  7. Every 10 minutes, place a plus (+) mark in the box if the behavior occurred. Make sure to pay attention to your watch (or the clock) and the type of time sampling that you have decided to use.
    • If you have decided to do a whole-interval sampling, then you will place a + mark in the box only if the behavior occurs continuously throughout the 10-minute interval.
    • If you have decided to do a partial-interval sampling, then you will place a + mark in the box if at least one instance of the behavior occurs during the 10-minute interval.
    • If you have decided to do a momentary time sampling, then you will place a + mark in the box only if the behavior is present at the end of the interval. So as your watch (or the clock) hits the 10-minute mark, look at the child. If he or she is engaging in the behavior, place a + mark in the box. If the child is not engaging in the behavior at that moment, leave it blank. Note: For momentary time sampling it may be important to shorten the 10-minute time span to increase the number of observations. Observers often use shorter time intervals for this type of time sampling.

Applying the Strategy

  1. Talk to your teacher or supervisor, and make sure that you know exactly what behavior to observe, how long to observe, and which type of time sampling procedure to use (whole-interval, partial-interval, or momentary).
  2. Fill out the top part of your Time Sampling Record Sheet, including the child’s name, the date, and the behavior you will be observing.
  3. Position yourself so that you can easily see the clock (if you do not have a watch) and the child.
  4. On your Time Sampling Record Sheet find the 10-minute interval that corresponds to the time of your observation.
  5. Every 10 minutes place a plus (+) mark in the box if the behavior occurred. Make sure to pay attention to your watch (or the clock) and the type of time sampling that you have decided to do.

Information in this lesson is used with permission from:

Salvia, J., & Ysseldyke, J. (2000). Assessment (8th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Sattler, J. M. (2001). Assessment of children: Behavioral and clinical applications (4 th ed.). San Diego , CA : Jerome Sattler.

 

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