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human dev. page syllabus research paper

Human Development

Learning Objectives

The Contexts of Human Development (1)

  1. Describe the 3 domains of study of human Development.
  2. Define cohort and discuss its influence in human Development.
  3. Discuss the nature-nurture controversy.
  4. Describe Learning theory as it applies to Human Development.
  5. Summarize Information Processing Theory.
  6. Summarize Piaget's Cognitive theory.
  7. Describe Vygotsky's Socio-cultural theory.
  8. Summarize Ethological and Evolutionary  theories.
  9. Discuss the Ecological Model of environmental influence proposed by Bronfenbrenner.


Research Methods (1)

  1. Describe and list the advantages and disadvantages of the following types of research:
  • case study
  • naturalistic observation
  • laboratory observation
  • interviews
  • surveys
  • correlation

2. Describe the parts of an experiment:

  • independent variable
  • dependent variable
  • experimental group
  • control group
  • random sample
  1. Discuss the importance of a representative sample.
  2. Compare cross-sectional, longitudinal, and cross-sequential research designs.
  3. Identify the abstract, hypothesis, subjects, method, and findings in a research journal.
  4. Discuss the importance of empirical evidence in forming conclusions about Human Development.

Genes Vs Environment (2)

  1. Identify the mechanisms of heredity and explain how sex is determined.
  2. Distinguish between genotype and phenotype, and discuss the role of genes in building the person.
  3. Explain the polygenic and multifactoral nature of human traits.
  4. Discuss the issue of gene-environment correlation, specifically: Passive correlation; evocative correlation; and, active correlation.
  5. Identify 3 methods of studying heritability .
  6. Identify several traits which have been demonstrated to have significant heritability
  7. Discuss the reasons heritability is always an incomplete explanation of human behavior.

Prenatal Development (3)

  1. Describe the significant events that occur in the germinal, embryonic, and fetal stages of prenatal development.
  2. Describe 5 major events of brain development: proliferation; migration; differentiation; myelination; and, sculpting.
  3. Discuss the effects of nicotine, alcohol, PCB’s and rubella on the developing person.
  4. Discuss the problems of pre-term and low birth weight babies.
  5. Summarize the sensory and motor capabilities of newborns.

Infant Physical Development (4)

  1. Describe brain growth and development in the first 2 years, including changes in axons, dendrites, and myelination.
  2. Discuss the role of the environment in shaping brain development.
  3. Discuss the factors that influence early physical growth.
  4. Summarize the basic learning capacities of infancy.
  5. Describe typical sleeping and crying patterns in infancy.
  6. Discuss the ideal diet and nutritional problems in early life.

Infant Cognitive Development (5)

  1. Identify and describe each of Piaget’s 6 substages on sensorimotor intelligence.
  2. Explain what object permanence is, how it is tested in infants and what these tests reveal.
  3. Discuss the research finding on long term infant memory and infants’ understanding of causal relationships.
  4. Describe language development during infancy and identify its major landmarks.
  5. Contrast the theories of Skinner and Chomsky regarding language development.
  6. Identify the characteristics of baby talk or "motherese" and discuss its possible functions

Emotional and Social Development (6)

  1. Describe the basic emotions that are expressed by infants during the first days and months.
  2. Describe the main developments in the emotional life between the ages of 6 months and 2 years.
  3. Discuss the origins and development of temperament as an interaction of nature and nurture, and explain the significance of research on temperament for parents and caregivers.
  4. Describe the synchrony of parent-infant interaction during the first year and discuss its significance for the developing person.
  5. Define attachment, explain how it is measured and how it is influenced by context and temperament, and discuss the long-term consequences of secure and insecure attachment.
  6. Discuss contemporary views on the role of the father in infant psychosocial development.

Preschool Physical Development (7)

  1. Discuss brain growth and development and its effect on development during the play years.
  2. Discuss the various influences on physical growth in early childhood
  3. Explain what is meant by "injury control" and identify several factors that contribute to variation in the risk of injury among children. Describe some measures that have significantly reduced accidental death rates for children.

Preschool Cognitive Development (7)

  1. Describe Vygotsky’s views on cognitive development and his concept of guided participation.
  2. Explain the significance of scaffolding and the zone of proximal development is promoting cognitive development.
  3. Discuss preschoolers' attention.
  4. Summarize preschoolers' memory abilities and limitations.
  5. Explain the typical preschooler’s theory of mind.
  6. Outline the sequence by which vocabulary and grammar develop during the play years and discuss limitations in preschool language abilities.

Preschool Social Development (8)

  1. Discuss the relationship between the child’s developing sense of self and social awareness and the importance of success and positive self-evaluation.
  2. Discuss the emergence of self-regulation and empathy.
  3. Discuss the emergence of morality from the social learning and cognitive developmental perspectives 
  4. Describe the most effective method for disciplining a child and the negative effects of harsh punishment.
  5. Summarize gender development in early childhood, including biological and social learning factors.
  6. Discuss the interplay of social and biological factors that shape gender development.
  7. Describe 4 styles of parenting.
  8. Discuss how quality of marital relationships, cultural, ethnic and community contexts impact on the effectiveness of the various parenting styles.
  9. Describe the problem of child maltreatment using Ecological Systems theory.

Physical Development in Middle Childhood (9)

  1. Describe the normal growth and development during middle childhood and account for variation among children.
  2. Discuss the problems - both physical and psychological - of obese children.
  3. Identify the major causes of obesity and the best approached to and the best approaches to treating it.
  4. Describe the symptoms and possible causes of ADHD (with and without aggression).
  5. Discuss the types of treatment available for children with ADHD.

Cognitive Development in Middle Childhood (9)

  1. Explain middle childhood cognitive abilities in terms of Piaget’s concrete operations stage.
  2. Discuss the limitations of Piaget’s theory.
  3. Discuss advances in selective attention, memory, and processing speed and capacity during middle childhood.
  4. Discuss advances in knowledge and cognitive self-regulations during middle childhood.
  5. Define intelligence using Sternberg's and Gardner's theories.
  6. Describe how an IQ test relates to the concept of intelligence
  7. Explain how achievement and aptitude tests are used in evaluating individual differences in cognitive growth and discuss why the use of such tests is controversial.
  8. Discuss how cultural needs and standards direct cognitive growth.

Emotional and Social Development in Middle Childhood (10)

  1. Describe the development of self-understanding during middle childhood and its implication for children’s self-esteem.
  2. Discuss the importance of peer groups and the usual bases of friendship.
  3. Discuss the causes of unpopularity in middle childhood, the effects of unpopularity, and some things that can be done to help unpopular children.
  4. Describe the effects of divorce on children.

Physical Development in Adolescence (11)

  1. Describe the changes associated with puberty for girls and boys and the typical ages for those changes.
  2. Describe the effects of early and late maturation for boys and girls.
  3. Discuss the nutritional needs and problems of adolescence.
  4. Describe the risk factors, symptoms and treatment for anorexia nervosa.

Cognitive Development in Adolescence (11)

  1. Describe Formal Operational Thought.
  2. Describe the Information Processing view of adolescent thought.
  3. Evaluate the typical secondary school’s ability to meet adolescent needs and describe some changes that would help schools meet adolescent needs more appropriately.

Social Development in Adolescence (12)

  1. Describe several factors that contribute to a drop in self-esteem in adolescence.
  2. Describe the development of identity during adolescence, including the emergence of the possible selves.
  3. Describe each the 4 identity statuses.
  4. Describe Kohlberg's model of moral development..
  5. Discuss adolescent suicide, noting its prevalence, contributing factors and warning signs.

Death (19)

  1. Describe how our understanding of death changes with age.
  2. Describe the typical emotional responses to dying.
  3. Discuss the arguments for and against the right to die.
  4. Describe the typical pattern of grieving and some of the variations.

Physical Aging in Adulthood

  1. Identify the potentially harmful effects of repeated dieting. 
  2. Describe the relationship between certain lifestyle factors (smoking, alcohol use, nutrition, weight, and exercise) and health.
  3. Outline wear and tear and cellular accidents theories of aging.
  4. Discuss the role of genetics in aging and explain what the Hayflick limit is and how it supports the idea of a genetic clock.
  5. Differentiate between primary and secondary aging.
  6. Summarize the changes to the senses, skin,  and reproductive systems.
  7. Identify several reasons that the incidence of chronic disease increases significantly with age, focusing on heart disease and cancer.
  8. Identify lifestyle characteristics associated with the healthy, long-lived adult.
  9. Discuss nutritional and exercise needs during late adulthood and how these might be met.

Adult Thought 

  1. Discuss Perry's concept of adaptive cognitive and the effects of college on thought.
  2. Describe Shaie's cognitive stages.
  3. Summarize the psychometric changes in cognition in adulthood.
  4. Distinguish between crystallized and fluid intelligence.
  5. Discuss the typical changes in perceptual speed, attention, memory, problem solving and creativity.
  6. Discuss the factors related to cognitive change.
  7. Describe the strategies and their effectiveness for reducing cognitive decline.


  1. Discuss the factors that influence our selection of a mate.
  2. Identify Sternberg’s three components of love and discuss the pattern by which they develop in relationships.
  3. Identify the characteristics of happy marriages.
  4. Discuss the impact of children on marriage.
  5. Discuss typical patterns in marital satisfaction with aging.
  6. Discuss the adjustment problems that accompany divorce.


  1. Discuss the difficulties of developing a comprehensive theory of development for adults with reference to Erikson, Levinson and Vaillant. 
  2. Discuss the changes that normally occur in middle adulthood and whether this is inevitably a time of crisis.
  3. Describe the things that promote well-being in midlife.
  4. Describe the Big 5 clusters of personality traits and discuss the reasons for their relative stability during adulthood.
  5. Explain who typically makes significant changes in personality during adulthood and why.
  6. Discuss the importance on control vs dependency for older adults.