Field Assignment: Time spent with same-sex peers

due Friday, Apr. 2 -- 8 am

Researchers of child development often want to know how an individual or a group of children distribute their time among various activities in a naturalistic setting. For this assignment you will be using a common method of observational research, time sampling, to assess the proportion of time children spend (a) alone, (b) with peers of the same sex, (c) with peers of the opposite sex, and (d) with peers of both sexes. Every 30 seconds you will code the child's behavior, until five minutes have elapsed. You will do this for two childen, so at the end you will have coded two children across 10 minutes.

Use this Coding Sheet. You will also need a stopwatch or a wristwatch with a large face and clearly visible second hand. You may find it easier to do this assignment in pairs, where one person keeps time and the other person observes. (If you team up to do this assignment, you still have to code 2 children each.)

0. Read all the instructions in this assignment carefully.

1. Go to a park or school playground. These are ideal places to observe, where you can see children of both genders in a variety of activities.

2. Select two children, approximately between 4 and 12 years of age, if possible one girl and one boy. Write their names (or brief descriptions), sexes, and ages (or approximate ages) on the data sheet before you begin coding. You will observe one child for five consecutive minutes before switching to the next child.

3. While observing the child, note if they are playing alone (A), playing with one or more boys (B), playing with one or more girls (G), or playing in a mixed group of male and female peers (M). After each 30 sec interval, write the appropriate code to the right time.

Note that in interval coding, the clock tells you when to code. If the child's behavior falls into more than one code category -- say, Alex plays with a boy for a few seconds, and then jumps rope with a group of girls -- choose the one code that best fits how he spent most of his time during the 30-second interval.

4. When you finish coding, enter your numbers into the excel file you downloaded and email it to me as an attachment. I will compile everybody's data and we will look at the results and discuss them in class on Friday. (That is why I need your numbers by 8am on Friday!)

5. Print out the completed spreadsheet and bring to class for discussion. You will hand it in at the end of the class.

skills practiced:
• observation
• research design
• compiling and interpreting data
• understand research methods and interpret research findings