FALL 2000
PSY 221: Childhood and Adolescence T/TH HSC 165

*Useful Developmental Websites, Psychology Department
*Society for Research in Child Development

PROFESSOR: Dr. Mandy B. Medvin
Rm 131 Hoyt, Ph: 7360, e-mail: medvinm@westminster.edu
Office Hours: MWF 10:30-11:30; T/Th 2-3; after class or by appointment


    Sroufe, L. A., Cooper, R. G., & DeHart, G. B. (2000). Child development: It's nature and course (4th edition). New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.

     Filipovic, Z. (1993). Zlata's diary. New York: Penguin Books, Inc.

BRIEF COURSE DESCRIPTION: An overview of child and adolescent development.


The year 2000 ushers in a new era in the study of child development. On one hand, scientists have an increasingly better understanding of how difficult events early in a child's life can lead later struggles in adolescence and adulthood. With this knowledge, they are reaching out to develop partnerships with community leaders to design interventions for children and their families. Alternatively, issues such as community violence, child abuse, teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, etc., still are very prominent in our national consciousness.

In this course, we will first strive to examine basic developmental processes in children--both "how" they change over time, and "why" this change occurs. Next, we will examine individual differences among children, and whether or not such 'traits' remain the same across time. Finally, we will focus the application of this knowledge to both risk and resiliency issues in development.

Our course objectives are as follows:

1. To examine basic research findings describing physical, cognitive, and social development from infancy through adolescence using a chronological approach.

2. To explore theoretical and methodological foundations in the study of child development.

3. To understand the familial and cultural context of development.

4. To obtain experience observing and conducting research with children and adolescents.

5. To enhance library research, writing, and presentation skills.


I strongly believe in the lecture and discussion format. There is certain information from the scientific literature that I want to share with you. In addition, I want to hear your input as well--your ideas, opinions, and interpretations of the data, as well your own experiences.

Class time will therefore consist of lecture and discussion, and will also involve videos and peer presentations where appropriate. At times we will divide up into problem solving groups to extend our classroom work. I encourage an active, open format, where students ask questions and participate in class discussions. To facilitate this format, and to maximize learning, students should attend all classes, read the materials prior to coming to class, and be both attentive and involved.


  To pass the class, all assignments must be completed.

EXAMS AND QUIZZES: There will be three exams in this class, each covering 1/3 of the class, and will consist of both objective and essay items.  Reading quizzes may also be given on the first day a chapter is due--these quizzes provide motivation for reading the book, as well as help you prepare for the exams.

Research Presentation: You will conduct "hands-on" research with children and/or adolescents, and present that research to the class.  Specifically, you will choose a project from a list of possibilities that I provide in class. Working in small groups, you will conduct the activity and present the results in class. Where possible, we will make videotapes of your research to facilitate the presentation. Presentations will occur at the appropriate times for the class topics, and the dates are noted on the project descriptions. Further details will be discussed during the lecture on methods.

Paper: Each student will be required to write a 7-page paper on a topic of interest relating to child or adolescent development. This assignment requires you to actively interpret the literature, synthesize information, and form a conclusion. Further details will be discussed in class.

ACTIVITIES: There will be several smaller projects scheduled during the semester. All of these are designed to enhance your "hands-on" view of children, through observations, explorations of children's toys or books, or other activities. Some possible activities are as follows:

 Pregnancy Survey: You will learn survey techniques by interviewing women who have had children (recent, mother, grandmother, or great-grandmother). We will discuss these findings in class.

 Observation: You will conduct observations of children in the Westminster College Preschool Lab using a list of "guiding" questions. We will discuss these observations in class. You will then summarize these observations in the form of a narrative, and compare them to your readings, as well as your other experiences with children. Your ability to interpret your observations based on what we are learning in class is important for this assignment.

 Toy survey: You will analyze the contents of several toy catalogs, and then write a guide for parents about your toy recommendations. This guide will include, among other things, a discussion of the toy's educational benefits, ability to stimulate play, age-appropriateness, usefulness for physical, cognitive, and social development, and gender typed versus gender neutral quality.

FINAL GRADE: The grading scale will be as follows:

Percent of Work Mastered                                              Grade
93-100% A
90-92 A-
87-89 B+
83-86 B
80-82 B-
77-79 C+
73-76 C
70-72 C-
67-69 D+
63-66 D
60-62 D-
<60 F


LIST OF TOPICS AND ASSIGNMENTS: The specific dates may change (for example, if we need additional time for the research presentations), but the order will remain the same. Changes will be announced in class.
1 August 29 Introduction Ch 1
  August 31 Theories Ch 1
2 Sept 5--class begins at 10:00 a.m. Methods/Models Ch 1/Ch2; Choose research project
  Sept 7 Contexts of Development Ch 2
3 Sept 12 Heredity & Prenatal Development Ch 3; Pregnancy and Childbirth Survey Due
  Sept 14 Heredity & Prenatal Development Ch 3; Provide research plan, draft 1
4 Sept 19 Infancy: First Adaptations Ch 4
  Sept 21 Infancy: Cognitive Development Ch 5; Paper Topic Due
5 Sept 26 Infancy: Cognitive Development Ch 5
  Sept 28 Exam 1 Chs 1-5
6 October 3 Infancy: Social Development Ch 6
  October 5 Infancy: Social Development Ch 6
7 October 10 Toddlerhood: Language Dev  
  October 12 Toddlerhood: Social Dev Ch 7
8 October 17 Toddlerhood: Social Dev Ch 8
  October 19 Early Childhood: Cognitive Dev Ch 9
UNIT IV: EARLY CHILDHOOD (2.5-5 years)      
9 October 24 MIDBREAK
  October 26 Early Childhood: Cognitive Dev Ch 9
10 October 31 Early Childhood: Social Dev Ch 10
  November 2 Early Childhood: Social Dev Ch 10
11 November 7 Exam 2 Chs 6-10
UNIT V: MIDDLE CHILDHOOD (6-12 years)      
  November 9 Middle Childhood: Cognitive Dev Ch 11
12 November 14 Middle Childhood: Social Dev Ch 12
  November 16 Middle Childhood: Social Dev Ch 12/Zlata, beginning-W, Feb 15,1992.
UNIT VI: ADOLESCENCE (12-18? years)      
13 November 21 Adolescence: Physical & Cognitive Dev Ch 13/Paper Due
  November 22-26 THANKSGIVING BREAK  
14 November 28 Adolescence: Social Dev Ch 14
  November 30 Adolescence: Social Dev Ch 14; Ch 15 pp.530-535
15 December 5 Developmental Psychopathology Ch 15/Zlata, the rest of the book; Zivcic article
  December 7 Developmental Psychopathology Ch 15
  December 13-16 FINAL PERIOD Chs 11-15, Zlata; Zivcic article