Psy 206: Developmental Psychology (Fall 2000)

Instructor: Robert H. Wozniak, Bryn Mawr College


I. The Psychological System: An Introduction

A. Developmental Constructivism (September 3/5)

B. Experience, Action, and the Symbolic Function: Development and the Psychological System (September 10/12)

II. Cognition, Perception, and Acculturation: The Construction of Mind, the Environment, and Culture

C. Logico-mathematical Thought: The Development of Rationality (September 17/19)

D. Perception: The Detection of Information Specifying the Environment (September 24/26)

E. Mind in Society and History: Development as Acculturation (October 1/3)

III. Heredity and Environment: Development as Nature/Nurture Transaction

F. Nature and Nurture Interwoven (October 8/10)

IV. Infancy and Toddlerhood

G. Objects and Others: The Active Infant as a Social Partner (October 17/22)

H. The Responsive Caregiver: Interactional Styles and Attachment (October 24)

Discussion of the Mid-Term Exam (October 29)

I. Symbol Formation and the Acquisition of Language (October 31)

V. Early Childhood

J. Concepts, Categories, and Children's Theories of Mind (November 5)

K. Brothers, Sisters, Mothers, Fathers: Family Life and Development of the Self (November 7/12)

VI. Middle and Later Childhood

L. Friendship, Gender, and Social Competence (November 14)

M. Reasons and Rules: Logic and Learning (November 19/21)

N. Playgrounds and Peers (November 26/December 3)

O. Adolescents, Families, and Societies (December 5/10)


Assignments: a) text readings and b) observation assignment. Reading assignments should be completed prior to the class period for which they have been assigned.

Texts: There are two texts for this course: a) Berk, L. E. (1996). Child development (4th edition). MA: Allyn & Bacon; b) Wozniak, R. H. (Ed). (1993). Worlds of childhood. NY: HarperCollins. Additional readings will be on reserve.

Observation assignment: The observation assignment is designed to provide students with the opportunity to engage in systematic observation of a child. Detailed information on this assignment will be made available during the second week of the semester. In general, however, it will consist of the following components:

a) a preliminary (one page) proposal describing the approximate age(s) of the child(ren) and type(s) of behavior that you would like to observe, the context in which you intend to make your observations, and the nature of your informed consent procedures. This will be due by September 24.

b) one or more meetings with the TA to discuss, revise, and finalize your proposal. These meetings will take place between September 24 and October 3.

c) a series of at least 4 observations scheduled so that there is at least a week between sessions. Length and format of the observations will depend on the behavior being observed (this will be discussed with the TA). The Phebe Anna Thorne Nursery School will provide observational opportunities for those students who do not otherwise have regular access to children.

d) a meeting with the TA at the conclusion of your observations to discuss the information that you have gathered and the paper that will be due. These meetings will be scheduled as people complete their observations.

e) a paper consisting of four sections: i) a short introduction describing the focus, rationale, and method of your observation; ii) a description of what you observed (with illustrative examples from your observation notes); iii) a short essay derived from the content of your observation in which you relate what you observed to material covered in the course; and iv) an appendix containing your observation notes. Length may vary but it is assumed that sections 1-3 will require no fewer than 10-12 double spaced pages. Papers are due before the beginning of the last class of the semester, December 10.

Grades: Grades will be based on two take-home, short-answer essay exams (mid-term and final) that involve integrating material from relevant sources and on the observation assignment. Each exam is worth 35% of the grade. The observation assignment is worth 30% of the grade.

Exams: The mid-term, which covers all material (lectures and readings) up to and including Class F (October 10), is take-home and open-everything. You may spend as much time on it as you wish; but answer length is severely limited (questions generally must be answered in fewer than 450 words) and word limits are strictly enforced. The exam will be available at the end of class on October 17 and is due by the beginning of class October 24. Exams will be returned on October 29th and class that day will be devoted to discussion of the exam. The final, which covers all course material, will be available at the end of class on December 10. Like the mid-term, it is a take-home, open everything exam. Unlike the mid-term, however, it is time-limited (3 hours) rather than word-limited. It can be taken at any time but must be completed and returned to the Psychology Department office (West House) by the end of exam period (Friday, December 20, 12 noon).


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