Assessing Self-regulation in Play-based Contexts

Collaborative scholarship in assessment, evaluation, and knowledge mobilization

Assessing Self-regulation in Play-based Contexts

This research builds on a previous study and takes a practice-oriented view of self- regulation, generated from an examination of policy documents (Timmons, Pelletier, & Corter, 2016; Timmons, 2019). This view differs from the cognitive-only view of self-regulation in that it acknowledges the importance of learning contexts and interactions between and among children and other educators. As part of Dr. Timmons’ previous research (led by Drs. Janette Pelletier and Carl Corter) the Child Observation Framework (COF) was developed as a tool for researchers to analyze and examine children’s self-regulation and play behaviour. Using the COF, 10-minute observations (running records) are carried out during four classroom contexts: educator-led whole-group time, small group time, transitions between activities and child-chosen free-play time.

Prior to validating the COF, additional refinements to the tool are needed. Preliminary findings have revealed a significant amount of overlap between the child-child and child-educator play and learning items; therefore, these items have been updated to improve clarity. Another issue that was identified was how to observe a student when they were transitioning from one context to another during the 10-minute observational period. Given this issue, we are working to revise the COF to capture more open blocks of time. This is allowing the research team to have a more accurate picture of the daily interactions of a play-based kindergarten classroom. The tool is currently used for research purposes only. We are currently working to revise and validate the COF to allow for classroom use by teachers and early childhood educators.

Select Publications

Timmons, K., Pelletier, J., & Corter, C. (2016). Understanding children’s self-regulation within different classroom contexts. Early Child Development and Care, 186(2), 249-267. Full Article | Open Access Version

Timmons, K.(2017). Does self-regulation and engagement differ among classroom grouping, play, and transition contexts? Research in a Nutshell (RiAN), 2(1), 2. Available Online

Timmons., K., Braund, H., & Sharp.E. (in preparation). Developing an observational framework for assessing opportunities for self-regulation in play-based kindergarten.

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