The Child Observation Suite

Students in observation suite control room

The Child Observation Suite is a large observation room with mirrored walls. It is equipped with video and audio recording equipment, an L-shaped researcher room from which to observe, including a fully equipped teaching facility with a video editing suite and remote controls for the cameras. There is also a comfortable and fully equipped waiting room suitable for adults and children. Most UK Psychology degree programmes and indeed some A Level courses teach students about the research of Mary Ainsworth and her “famous” Strange Situation experiment. For many courses, this will involve descriptions of the work, or the watching of pre-recorded footage. At UCLan’s School of Psychology we believe that the most informative way to learn about this work is for you to encounter the research first hand, by replicating the research in our Child Observation Suite (COS). The Strange Situation is a research study in which researchers attempt to identify the elements of childhood attachment to parents determined by the cultural specific elements of their nurtured behaviour relative to those that are innate behaviours common to all. Our emphasis on experiential learning ensures that you will be able to experience this real-life replication, learning the skills you require to react to the challenges of observing a child’s behaviour in a way that simply cannot be conveyed were we, like many other courses, to simply demonstrate the experiment via a DVD.

Mother and child in observation suite 

In the COS students operate the video cameras, code the child’s behaviours and indeed act as the stranger. Thus, rather than experience the research the “way that it should be”, you will learn to experience the research “how it is”. Learning to react to the child, their guardians and parents; to respond to the situations a research study can pose rather than to simply watch, listen and learn from pre-recorded footage. The experience that you gain, and the techniques that you learn could then be applied in the observation of medics, educators, athletes, and in many other domains. Indeed, one of the underlying principles of the teaching within the School is that students will learn more, in a more engaging manner, and remember it for longer if they have actively participated in the processes rather than simply and passively been told about it.