Faculty Books and Book Chapters

Systematic Observation

Chapter Title/Book Title

Systematic Observation

Book Title

Essays in Developmental Psychology


Randall Summers, Charles Golden, Lisa Lashley, & Erica Ailes


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Systematic observation is the process of explicitly defining desired target behaviors and observing them using a systematic set of guidelines. Systematic observation assists in reducing or eliminating bias in experimental designs. The reduction allows for increased reliability and validity therefore, an integral part in experimental designs. This process is widely used in school, home, and clinical settings. The process allows preset rules and guidelines to be to be followed prior to beginning the experiment. The rules and guidelines maintain the design within reasonable boundaries. All the preset rules are inferred prior to starting the experiment.


bias, desired target behaviors, diagnostic information, experimental designs, reliability and validity, research methods, systematic observation

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This is one in a collection of essays as part of a project that began as an encyclopedia of developmental psychology coordinated by Dr. Randall Summers. However, for unforeseen reasons, the publisher was no longer in a position to publish the encyclopedia. This project was undertaken so that thousands of hours of work by psychologists would not go wasted. Enjoy these essays and feel free to cite them using the proper format.

Submit suggestions for corrections and topics to goldench@nova.edu.

Systematic Observation