Research and Observation

Interested in observation opportunities at the ECC?


The Early Childhood Center (ECC) at Colorado State University believes that the knowledge gained from naturalistic observations can help adult learners apply the theories they have learned by seeing them in practice. Observers are welcome at the ECC.

The ECC has seven observable classrooms with children’s ages ranging from 6 weeks to 6 years old. Classrooms are equipped with state of the art audio and visual equipment that enable observers to see and hear activities in the classroom unobtrusively using the computer workstations in the observation booths. One-way glass allows observers to see directly into the room. This allows the observer to maintain distance and promotes objectivity in observation. As an observer, you do not want to alter the environment you are observing and you should not engage with the children, parents, or teachers.

The ECC is delighted to announce that students now schedule their ECC observations on-line.

Instructors wishing to schedule observations for their courses

Colorado State University faculty who wish to incorporate observations at the ECC into their course curriculum should e-mail the Executive Director, Dr. Karen Rattenborg at Please contact the Executive Director before the semester begins or at least one month prior to the date you wish your students to begin observing.

In your e-mail please provide the following information:

  1. The Title, Course Number, and CRN of your class.
  2. The number of students you will be sending to observe.
  3. The range of dates you would like them to observe.
  4. The ages of the children you would like them to observe.
  5. The due date of the assignment.

Providing the above information will allow the ECC to set up observations for your class in the on-line observation registration system.

Students scheduling an observation

Visit the Observation Scheduling site. Log in with your eName and Password.

If you find that you are unable to access the on-line observation registration system, please send an email to:

In your e-mail, provide the following information:

  1. The date(s) you would like to observe (provide several options, if possible).
  2. The time you would like to observe (provide several options, if possible).
    • Please note that noon-3:00 are not optimal observation times due to our nap schedule.
    • Observations at the ECC are best during the following times:
      • 8:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m.
      • 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  3. The purpose of the observation. If it is for a class, provide the course number and your professor's name.
  4. Your preferred age-group:
    • 0 Infants
    • 1 year olds
    • 2 year olds
    • 3 year olds
    • 4-5 year olds

You can expect a confirmation of the scheduled visit within 3-5 working days.

Observation site location:

CSU Early Childhood Center
223 South Shields Street, Fort Collins, CO 80521
Phone: (970)491-7082

Short term parking during your observation time is available along Scott Avenue to the west of the school. Note that parking along Olive Street is reserved for parent pick-up and drop-off only. Note also that there is "ECC staff only" parking along the north side of the school. Please do not park on Olive Street or in the ECC staff lot.

Observation protocol:

  • Report to the ECC at your reserved observation time.
  • Ring the bell to the right of the front door.
  • The person at the front desk will ask "How can I help you?"
  • Your response: "I'm here to complete an observation."
  • The person at the front desk will ring you through.
  • Proceed to the front desk to sign in.
    • You must have your photo ID your name, course number, professor's name, observation room number, time in and time out.
    • Obtain an "Observer" lanyard and you will be directed to an observation booth.
  • Instructions for logging into the observation booth computers and accessing the observation software are posted by each computer. Please ask for assistance at the front desk if you have any questions.
  • When you complete your observation, return your "Observer" lanyard to the front desk and sign out.

Observation rules:

Remember: You are here as an observer. Please do not interact with the children, teachers, or parents during your time observing. If a child asks you “what are you doing?” you can reply very briefly “I am writing.” If any children try to engage you, please direct them to their teachers.

  • In general, be as unobtrusive as possible at all times. Do your best to not alter the environment by your presence.
  • Open and close the observation room doors quietly.
  • Turn off your cell phone or set it to silent mode before entering the observation room and during your observation.
  • Photographing the children and teachers is not allowed.
  • To maintain the confidentially of ECC families and staff, never use the names of children or staff when you discuss or write up an observation.
  • Computers located in the observation booths are to be used only for activities related to the observation.
  • If the class you are observing moves outside or into the gym, maintain your role as observer and keep your distance from the children and teachers.
  • No backpacks are allowed where children may be able to access them, this includes the gym and the outdoor play spaces.
  • No food or drink. Eating/drinking is not permitted at any time during your observation.