Define the terms: objectivity, subjectivity

Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 3.14: Use observation, assessment and planning to promote the development of children
Learning outcome: Understand professional practice in relation to the observation of children
Assessment criteria: Define the terms: objectivity, subjectivity


In the world of Early Childhood education, the terms objectivity and subjectivity are often used to describe observations. But what do these two terms actually mean? This blog post will explore the definitions of these two terms, how they relate to observations in Early Years settings, and why it is important for professionals to understand the difference between them.

Objectivity vs. Subjectivity

Objectivity refers to an observation that is free from bias or opinion. This means that an observer must be impartial when making an observation and refrain from forming any opinion about the situation being observed. An objective observation should be based on factual information only. For example, if a teacher is observing a student’s reading skills, he or she should record only what they can see – i.e., which words the student read correctly and which words were incorrect – rather than forming any opinion about why this might be happening (such as lack of motivation).


Subjectivity, on the other hand, refers to an observation that is based on opinion or feeling rather than fact. This means that when making an observation, an observer can form opinions or draw conclusions based on their own personal experience or beliefs. For example, if a teacher observes a student struggling with reading skills, they can make a subjective comment such as “the student appears unmotivated” instead of simply recording which words were read correctly and which ones were not.

Relationship to Early Years Settings

In Early Years settings, it is important for those observing children’s development to keep their observations as objective as possible in order to ensure accuracy and reliability of data collected. While there may be times when it is appropriate for observers to make subjective comments about a child’s behaviour or progress (for instance if they have prior knowledge of the child’s background), such comments should always be accompanied by factual information in order to maintain objectivity when possible. Additionally, subjective comments should not affect any decisions made regarding interventions for children with additional needs or learning difficulties; instead those decisions should always be based on objective evidence collected through accurate observations over time.



Understanding objectivity and subjectivity in relation to observations in Early Years settings is essential for professionals who work with young children. Objective observations are necessary in order to ensure accuracy and reliability of data collected while subjective comments should only be used when appropriate and accompanied by factual information whenever possible. Ultimately, understanding these two concepts will help ensure that interventions for young children are based on solid evidence obtained through careful observation over time.

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