Observing Adolescent Essay


Gustav Klimt

Observations - Adolescent


To complete this assignment successfully, you should:

  1. Observe, using the PEPSI charts or other observation tools that will increase your understanding of youth and adolescent behavior patterns.
  2. Fill in your Name and Email address.
  3. Send the Observations.

Observations of Adolescents

French Cartoonist, Andre Franquin

The essence of increasing our understanding of human nature and working more effectively with youngsters is tied into our ability to observe. Observing includes more than what we behold. What we choose to attend to, what we give meaning to, and how we frame our perceptions provide context for our observations. We provide personal meaning as well, through our social and affective filter, things like our mood, social constructs, expectations and level of well being and development. Here is an example:

    A teen is crying
      I rush over to help, for she is bright red, and doesn't seem to be able to catch her breath.

      I feel remorse, for she is sobbing an apology.

      I feel panicky for everyone in the room looks over at us.

      I feel anger, for a youngster from another peer group is attacking her.

      I try to ignore the whole thing, since its graduation and they are playing the alma mater.

      I understand, for one of the star athletes was killed in a car accident.

Kohlberg's work on moral reasoning underscores perception from a different angle. How we view situations and the ideas we use to resolve dilemmas is probably maturational. These examples provide a hierarchy that mirrors this.
    I see a youngster looking at another student's paper during an exam.
      I am immediately angry because "he knows better"; and I tell him so right then.

      He gets a zero for the test, since what he did is not fair to others.

      I ask him to move away from his study partner and remind him that we take tests alone.

      I talk with him later, explaining the importance of following rules and ask him to comply.

      I am excited that he wants to achieve, and make time to teach him better ways to succeed.

Another dimension comes from our foundational belief system. If I am a behaviorist, I view things distinctly differently from a humanist, and probably look for solutions in rather different ways. The Rice text provides an example of this. Review the material on pp. 25- 47. Go over the thought questions on page 49.

These questions can provide a frame of reference for observation of adolescents. As you do the observations for this class, work to recognize the perspectives you bring to the task.

Ground yourself as clearly as you can, to enhance the value of the time spent and those things that you observe.

In these exercises, do not try to be objective about what you see, but rather introspective.

Attend to your personal viewpoints and belief systems.

Honor and reflect on what you bring to observing.

If you can, go a step beyond and reflect on your observations from a distance, a more omniscient viewpoint.

Once you have completed the readings and thought questions, go on to complete the assignment on observations.

Make accurate observations, descriptions and inferences about student development



  1. Review the five areas of PEPSI (physical, emotional, philosophical, social, intellectual) by reviewing the text readings.
  2. Review the PEPSI developmental charts, looking at the summary V charts for each discrete area of development. Make copies of the charts for ages 11, 12, early adolescent and late adolescence.
  3. Print off the observation charts for looking at different areas of development.
  4. Review the ethical guidelines for research and observation. Complete any advance notification or seeking of permission before beginning observations.

NOTE: If you have a set of observations that are student centered and geared toward adolescence,, feel free to use them instead of the PEPSI charts. The purpose of this exercise is to sharpen the ability to see and value students and to become more clear about normal behavior in teens.


  1. Choose three of the five PEPSI areas for observation. [If taking this for a second credit, please choose two different areas than those observed in the previous course work. For the third area, you may want to observe language, and in particular with adolescents, the jargon, use of profanity, "inside" words, markers that suggest group identification and pass words or membership tokens. For even more fun, why not collect and categorize the jokes students tell one another. [What do they find humorous? What purpose do the jokes serve? Is there any ethnic, religious or cultural slamming?]
  2. Use the observation chart to make a note of your initial observations, then respond by filling out the matching reflection sheet.
  3. Report the areas observed, and a note that all three observations were completed.
  4. Write a short essay, responding to the following:
    1. Insights about this age group
    2. Questions I now have as a result of the observations
    3. Observations I plan to do in the future

    E-mail J'Anne Ellsworth at Janne.Ellsworth@nau.edu
    Course developed byJ'AnneEllsworth

    Copyright 1998 Northern Arizona University

I have recently observed an eleven year old boy, in a department store. His behavior was typical of a three year old child. The boy was wanting his mother to buy him a one hundred and twenty five dollar pair of shoes. When the mother said no, she could not afford to buy them right now, the boy then began throwing a temper tantram right in the middle of the store, not caring or   considering his actions or how his actions affected his mother. He was talking to her in a loud, and rude tone. He was walking through the iles of clothes nearly knocking every item off of the rack, telling his mother that he never got anything he wanted while she always got everything she wanted.
Yyou could tell that the boys mother was totally embarrassed. Her face was blood red and tears were welled up in her eyes. She tried to hold her head down, hoping no one would see her in that shape. The boy had absolutely no consideration of his mother and the embarresment he put her through. It was as if he could have cared less about the hurt he caused his mother. I don’t understand kids today, they have no concept of what respect is or what it means. I can not believe the way kids smart mouth and talk back to their parents and other in today’s world.
No, the boys behavior was not typical. I know kids can become very upset or heartbroken when there is something they want and their family can not afford to get it for them. That is typical behavior, but for the boy to react in the manner in which he did, I think their must have been some serious problems with him and or his family.
I do not believe that this boys behavior could be seen in other kids in his age group. Most eleven year old kids are more mature than that and more understanding. The motivation of his behavior was that he did not get what he wanted, he did not get his way and he threw a temper tantrum.
There is no reward for behavior like this or at least I would not reward my children if they were to react in such a...

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