University of Edinburgh

Video Analysis Workshop (with pupils with multiple disabilities and visual impairment)

Presented on 31 January 2008

Guidelines for the use of the observation sheet

The functions of language and communication

The functions of language or communication are written down the left-hand side of the observation sheet. Each peice of behaviour should be recorded under one of these categories, but keep an open mind and record anything which does not seem to fit under 'other' - these are not rules but guidelines. Recording these categories will require interpretation, on the part of the observer, or the child's intentions. Be as objective as possible.

  • Attention
    Attention refers to the child's attempts to draw attention to himself.
  • Request
    The child requests an object, person or action by reaching towards, pointing, miming or otherwise indicating his desire.
  • Give
    The child gives an object to the adult.
  • Rejection
    The child expresses his dislike or rejection of an object, person or action.
  • Finish
    Refers to the child's desire for the interaction or activity to end.
  • Pleasure
    The child's expressions of pleasure or recognition of a favourite person or object.
  • Conversational
    Refer to the child's attempts to maintain a shared interaction by turn-taking.
  • Feelings
    Any expressions of feelings other than like or dislike.
  • Imitation
    Refers to attempts by the child to imitate actions or sounds initiated by the adult.
  • Other
    Any other behaviours which do not fit into the above categories.

Categories for describing non-verbal behaviour

Thesse categories have been described as 'message related movements' or 'channels' of communication. They should be used in the description of what the child did.

  • Whole body movement - a whole body gesture.
  • Gesture - a gesture can be made with any body part. (This section may include personal or cultural gestures such as waving goodbye.)
  • Body posture - turning away, leaning towards, etc.
  • Eye contact - a child with peripheral vision may make eye contact with his face turned away.
  • Facial expression - anger, fear, surprise, sadness, etc.
  • Proxemics - use of personal space, eg; sitting near to.
  • Touch - making contact to convey a message.
  • Vocalisation - this section may include sounds or vocalisations.

Observation procedure

Watch the video through, then return to the beginning and run through, stopping the video after each segment of behaviour observed. It will be necessary to stop and start the video or rewind in order to fully record the interaction. It is unrealistic to try to write down absolutely everything. Try to pick out the most significant parts of the interaction. Record as fully and as objectively as you can what is actually happening.

Using Form 1, record these segments in the box which relates to the function of language or communication observed. The boxes do not denote any particular length of time. Record each segment in a linear fashion across the page so as to show the order in which things happened. Use another sheet if necessary. Write the initials of they type of behaviour observed (eg; PG for Personal Gesture), then describe what actually occurred. This gives a picture of what the child did and why. The 'why' relates to which function of language or communication the child was observed to be using.

Use Form 2 as a way of summarising each segment of behaviour observed. Look first for the function of language expressed, then move along from left to right of the page, ticking each form of non-verbal behaviour which was used in that expression. When completed, this sheet gives a picture of the spread of behaviours used.