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Boulder Journey School and University of Colorado Denver - Observation, Documentation, and Assessment Part 1: Intricacies and Subtleties of Practice

Course Number
This course focuses on how observation, documentation, and assessment may be used to inform understandings about children and teaching practice. Specific attention is given to learning how to observe and document children's thinking and learning processes so useful documentation can be produced and later analyzed for new understandings and insights. Participants will learn how observation and documentation are tools for assessment of children and for self-assessment of teaching practice. Ecological and child development theories are combined with documented observations and assessments to make informed decisions in the classroom. Additionally, participants will learn that understanding what children bring to the classroom, i.e., strengths, competencies, cultures, race, languages, and family experiences, is essential to teaching and learning. This is part one of a two-part course. Participants are not required to take part two. Participants who complete part two may apply to have course converted into college credit hours.

Clock Hours
Participants are awarded 2 continuing education units (CEUs) through University of Colorado Denver. 12-week course with approximately 4 hours of course work each week. (Course is offered over 10-weeks during the summer session.)

Course Delivery Method
Self-guided with some virtual meetings. Internet access and a device, such as a laptop or desktop computer, is required. Virtual platform link will be emailed to participants. Please see registration information below. 

Target Audience
Early childhood (birth - age 8) educators, directors, family child care providers

None. This is an introductory course.

$520 payable through 
University of Colorado Denver website

Upon completion, learner will be able to:
  • Understand and describe what is of value to observe and document during an experience and why.
  • Use documentation as a tool for capturing and uncovering children’s thinking and learning processes.
  • Use documentation as a form of assessment of children and for self-assessment of own teaching practice, ultimately informing the decisions made as a teacher in the classroom.
  • Identify and describe the complexities of the observation/documentation process and implement solutions.
  • Identify meaningful aspects of documented artifacts that provide insights about children and the practice of teaching.
  • Judge the limitations and affordances of various tools for documentation in relation to research goals.
  • Evaluate the quality of documentation and its potential for offering insights to inform your understandings of children and your teaching practice.
  • Conduct analyses from documentation that generate critical hypotheses and interpretations about children and your teaching practice that will impact the decisions you make in the classroom.
This training aligns to Colorado's Competencies for Early Childhood Educators and Administrators.

Child Observation and Assessment 1.1 Describes and utilizes indirect and direct observation and assessment methods.

Child Observation and Assessment 3.1 Identifies meaningful information about each child’s development, linguistic, and cultural background. Links information to key instructional/learning goals.

Child Observation and Assessment 3.4 Builds systems incorporating current theory and research relevant to gathering and documenting observation and assessment data in early childhood settings.

Child Observation and Assessment 5.1 Describes the importance of analyzing and interpreting unbiased child observation and assessment data using both indirect and direct methodologies.

Child Observation and Assessment 5.3 Analyzes factors that may influence a child’s observation and assessment data (i.e., culture, language, ability, environment, observer bias, and learning styles) and seeks additional supporting information when data sources conflict with one another.


Participants register through Colorado Shines PDIS. Please see below. $520 fee is paid through University of Colorado Denver website. Please contact Alex Morgan,, with any questions.

Last Update 12/11/2020

Additional Information

This course has been recognized as aligned to The Colorado Competencies and meeting best practice standards for adult instruction through the Colorado Shines PDIS Training Alignment Process. The Rules Regulating Child Care Facilities, issued by the Division of Early Care and Learning, Colorado Department of Human Services, take precedence over any course content.

To view Child Care Licensing Rules:

For more information, contact your child care licensing specialist.

Please note, instructors will mark your attendance and course completion in the Colorado Shines PDIS within seven days of the course event date. Paper certificates might not be issued at this training. You may confirm your course completion, view, and print an online certificate through My Dashboard – My PDIS Transcript menu navigation of the Colorado Shines PDIS. Please do not upload a course certificate that is already linked to your Colorado Shines PDIS account as this may delay processing of professional credentials.

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