This video requires a membership to the Siren Clip Library. Please log in if you are a member or purchase a subscription.

David – Event sample

David is a 3 years 4 months boy who has been attending the nursery in the afternoons for 4 weeks. The staff were mildly concerned that he often seems to be at the centre of disruptions and they had felt that they had to keep a constant ear open for him, often meaning breaking off what they were doing with other children. They were interested to find out what he spent his time doing, what was the cause of the disruptions, and whether David was provoked or was exhibiting aggressive behaviour himself. The sessions are mainly free play and the children are free to choose from the available activities. There are 20 children and 2 staff.

Good for looking at

  • Observation techniques - Event sampling
  • Choosing a technique fit for purpose


  • To see the nature of David’s involvement in disruptions.


  • Observe all interaction where David is involved in disruptions.

Example observation

  • Find the example event sample observation in the ‘further reading’ section


What did your observation tell you? Have a go at interpreting your observation in light of the original aims.

You can see an example observation and interpretation in further reading.

David – Event Sample Interpretation

We noted 9 incidents in total. In 6 of them the teacher was summoned by another child, or the teacher noticed the disturbance and came to see what was happening. In most of the cases the disturbance was instigated by David. In half of the incidents he seems to be in high spirits and laughing and the disruption was the result of over excitement rather than deliberate antisocial behaviour. However he takes no notice of other children’s objections to his behaviour.

The other incidents seem to be the result of David being totally unaware and unconcerned about his effect on others. He barges in, interrupts and spoils others’ games by taking their equipment and takes no notice at all of their objections, being determined to proceed with his own plans. He is not seen to be aggressive and when others react physically to his behaviour he only responds with lesser force. He is totally unconcerned when he hurts another child and carries on with his own game.

David – Time Sample Conclusion

David needs to be able to interpret and respond to other’s reactions – a skill that is linked to children’s cognitive and emotional development. David’s behaviour exhibits slight immaturity (the average development of a three year old shows someone who often comforts another child who is crying and can talk about being happy or sad, for example). He needs to be able to negotiate as well as to be assertive in order to join in more appropriately. This disregard for others seems partly due to his ability to become absorbed and involved in play, which has to be seen in a positive light.

The teachers are already helping David by not focussing on his negative behaviour but by directing him to different, more constructive behaviour and he is then cooperative and interested. When asked to apologise he does so willingly. Although there are over 20 children in the class the teachers usually manage to help orient David’s behaviour at the time it occurs.

Comparison of the two observations

The time sample showed how David spent his time and showed his good concentration skills. It also indicated his lack of cooperation with others and showed his assertive behaviour but was inconclusive as to the nature of the disruptions the teachers had seen him involved in. They didn’t seem to be very frequent.

However the event sample showed how frequent upsets really were and indicated strongly that David’s total disregard for others was a source of conflict.


David - Event sample 1 Download
David - Event sample 2 Download