The Direct Observation Form (DOF) is part of the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment (ASEBA). Users should understand that ASEBA instruments are designed to provide standardized descriptions of an individual’s functioning.

The DOF is designed for rating observations of 6-11-year-old children in school classrooms, at recess, and in other group settings.

Observers should have some knowledge of child behavior and development and of the methodology of behavioral assessment. Observers may be paraprofessionals, such as teachers’ aides, undergraduate or graduate students, and research assistants, as well as professionals in education, school psychology, clinical psychology, and related disciplines. Paraprofessionals and students should use the DOF under the supervision of a qualified professional who has knowledge of the theory and methodology of standardized assessment.

Extensive research produced a revised DOF in 2009. Observers write narrative descriptions of children’s behavior during 10-minute periods in group settings, such as classrooms and recess. The observers also rate on-task behavior at 10 1-minute intervals. At the end of the 10-minute observation, the observer rates 88 problem items.

The on-task and problem ratings are scored in relation to gender-specific norms for ages 6-11. Norms are based on ethnically diverse samples of 661 children for classroom observations and 224 children for recess observations. “Local norms” for the observational setting are obtained by observing “control” children.

Computer-scoring of the DOF is no longer available. Users creating their own scoring program may refer to pages 24, 28, and 32 of the Direct Observation Form Manual. Para-professionals such as teacher aides can be easily trained to use the DOF. Inter-rater reliabilities for DOF scales range from .71 to .97.

DOF Scales

Classroom Observations Scales

  • Sluggish Cognitive Tempo
  • Intrusive
  • Immature/Withdrawn
  • Oppositional
  • Attention Problems
  • DSM-oriented Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Problems with
    Inattention and Hyperactivity-Impulsivity subscales
  • Total Problems – Classroom
  • On-task

Recess Observations Scales

  • Aggressive Behavior
  • Total Problems-Recess

The following DOF Products are available: