Anecdotal record: what it is and how is it used in psychology and education

Throughout the day, each of us performs hundreds of different behaviors and actions. Not only us, but also the rest of humanity and even the rest of the animals do it. And a lot of these behaviors and performances they can be of great scientific interestYou may need to save them somehow.

In this sense, there are many instruments and methods of evaluation, both objective and subjective. One of the simplest and most common is direct observation, whereby the occurrence of different events over the time that this observation is made (or subsequently) can be experienced and recorded.

And in the records that we can use, we can find an example in the anecdotal file, Which we will talk about throughout this article.

    The anecdotal story: what is it?

    It is known as the anecdotal recording of a a type of instrument or methodology for recording behavioral information in which a set of facts, situations or phenomena which have occurred during a period in which information has been provided is described in the most objective manner possible.

    Typically, the anecdotal record takes the form of a report that captures the behavior, interests, actions and procedures carried out by a subject or group, when these arise spontaneously, in surprising and unexpected ways.

    It is the product of direct observation, Which begins when an unexpected event occurs that needs to be recorded. In other words, as the name suggests, it is the tale of an anecdote.

    Unlike other types of recording, anecdotal recording is characterized by being carried out in an unplanned or unprepared manner, but that it occurs when something has happened that makes it necessary, qu ‘it is spontaneous or more continuous. Observations are transcribed in an unstructured manner, Trying to use a clear, precise and unambiguous language, In addition the register is generally generated a posteriori, not being something planned.

    One of the most relevant characteristics of the anecdotal record is the fact that the data collected therein should be as objective as possible: it should be a description of the situation or phenomenon described, without being included in the data. subjective elements or interpretations of acts. This is important, because if the data is objective, it will not be biased by the observer’s own beliefs and expectations and can be analyzed by third parties. At least not in the preview itself, although a later section can be done with the interpretation given to it.

    The description of the situation must be precise and include above all the unforeseen situation, but in addition must include context information. This includes the time, place, presence or absence of other people, among others.

      What is it for?

      The anecdotal record can have many uses and in many different areas. But one of the contexts in which they are most used is in the field of education.

      In this area, teachers and professionals can register the presence of events, situations or attitudes which are relevant or striking, and which may merit registration in the face of some type of subsequent action or intervention. And not only the teacher, but also the student himself can make a recording if necessary.

      Furthermore, it can also serve as a basis for a more systematic study on the subject’s attitude or even personality traits and psychosocial development. Other sectors in which it can be of use is in the study of the behavior of a group, or it can even be used in sectors like the penitentiary.

      Main points it should have Although it does not necessarily have a fixed structure, it should generally be borne in mind that an anecdotal dossier must incorporate a number of main elements.

      Among the various elements to be highlighted should include basic data such as time and date, location, name of the subject, type of activity or situation and the context in which it is carried out. After that it needs to be incorporated (and this is the main point) an objective and clear description without any interpretation or ambiguity.

      As an option, and especially if there are already several observations that allow us to see a pattern or several perspectives of the same reality, you can incorporate an interpretation section. Finally, they can also include recommendations based on interpretations.

      What are the advantages of this type of registration?

      Anecdotal recording has a number of advantages over other types of recording. First it’s a fairly simple and natural type of recording to doAs long as the person is able to be objective in the description and to separate his point of view and opinion from the data it reflects.

      It is also advantageous to allow the taking of data on events, behaviors and phenomena in the first person and from the hands of a witness to the situation, and even if subsequent observations are made. allows continuity in annotations so that a systematized observation can be generated a posteriori.

      In addition, the fact that the recording is done a posteriori allows the person doing it not to have to interrupt the activity at the same time to record the data, although this can in turn reduce the number of details that can be remembered. you of the situation.

      The fact that a certain objectivity is necessary makes it easily interpretable by people outside the observation, so that if it is done well, other experts will be able to draw their own conclusions or even to report and report. ” record any subsequent events. All of this makes anecdotal recordings simple, straightforward, and very useful tools.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Casanova, M. (1998), Educational evaluation. Mexico, SEP / Muralla (Library for teacher update).
      • Secretary of Public Education (2013). Strategies and instruments for evaluating the training approach. Assessment tools in basic education. Mexico. [Online]. Available at:

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