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Child Development

Learning Objectives


Chapter 1 Theories and Research Strategies


1.      Describe Behaviorism and Social Learning Theories and how each influences child development.

2.      Describe Piagetís theory of child development and identify the 4 stages he used.

3.      Describe Information Processing theory.

4.      Describe the Ethological perspective and distinguish a sensitive period form a critical period.

5.      Discuss the Ecological systems theory.Define and give an example of the micro-, meso-, exo-, and macro-environments.

6.      Discuss the contributions of the socio-cultural approach, particularly those of Vygotsky.

7.      Discuss the importance of the Dynamic Systems theory approach.

8.      Describe each of the following methods of gathering information about children and state the strengths and weaknesses of each:

Systematic observation

Self reports

Parental reports

Psycho-physiological methods

Clinical Method


9.      Describe each of the following research designs and the strengths and weaknesses of each:

Correlational designs

Experimental designs

Modified experimental designs

Longitudinal designs

Cross-sectional designs

Longitudinal-sequential designs

Microgenetic designs



Chapter 2 Biological and Environmental Foundations

1.      Distinguish between genotypes and phenotypes.

2.      Discuss the implications of being homozygous versus heterozygous for a trait that is passed through a single gene.

3.      Describe 4 patterns of genetic inheritance: dominant-recessive, co-dominance, imprinting, and polygenic.

5.      Identify the cause and symptoms of Downís syndrome.

6.      Discuss the impact of the family of development and the characteristics of effective parenting.

7.      Discuss the relationship between SES and family functioning.

8.      Discuss the impact of poverty on development.

9.    Identify the impact of each of the following on development:



Towns and cities

10.  Discuss how cultures influence family interaction, and school experiences.

11.  Identify some central American values and discuss how they impact development

12.  Identify how public policies impact development and compare American public policies related to child development to those of other Western countries.

13.  Define heritability and how it is determined.

14.  Define range of reaction and discuss its applicability to development.

15.  Define canalization and discuss its applicability to development.

16.  State what is meant by genetic-environmental correlation.

17.  Define and give examples of each type of genetic-environmental correlation: passive, evocative, and active correlations.


Chapter 3 Prenatal Development

1.      Discuss the conditions necessary for conception.

2.      Describe the events of the period of the zygote.

3.      Describe the events of the period of the embryo.

4.      Describe the events of the period of the fetus.

5.      Discuss fetal viability.

6.      Describe the major events of brain development.

7.      Define teratogen and explain the factors that influence the severity of their effects.

8.      Identify the risks associated with prenatal exposure to:

Illegal drugs





Environmental pollutants

Maternal disease

9.      Discuss the impact of maternal exercise, nutrition, and stress on prenatal development.

10.  Discuss the importance of prenatal health care.



Chapter 4 Birth and the Newborn

1.      List the indications of impending birth.

2.      Describe the first stage of labor.

3.      Describe the second stage of labor.

4.      Describe the third stage of labor.

5.      Describe the typical newbornís appearance.

6.      Describe the Apgar scale.

7.      Discuss the advantages and disadvantages to prepared childbirth, home delivery and hospital deliveries.

8.      Explain the consequences and interventions for preterm and small-for-date babies.

9.      Describe each of the reflexes newborns possess and the importance of assessing them.

10.  Describe the newbornís sensory capacities for touch, taste, smell, hearing, and vision.

11.  Discuss the typical states of arousal a newborn goes through each day.

12.  Discuss the impact of birth on parental relationships.

13.  Discuss postpartum depression its prevalence and treatment.


Chapter 5 Infancy, Physical Development


1.      Describe changes in body size, proportion, and muscle-fat make-up during the first 2 years.

2.      Describe brain development during infancy at the level of individual brain cells and at the level of the cerebral cortex.

3.      Discuss how maturation and experience are important in brain development.

4.      Discuss the nutritional needs of infants and toddlers, the advantages of breast feeding, and the extent to which chubby babies are at risk for obesity later in life.

5.      Describe the symptoms, causes and consequences of marasmus and kwashiorkor.

6.      Describe non-organic failure-to-thrive and discuss the reasons it is so important to make this diagnosis with extreme care.

7.      Describe changes in the organization of sleep wake cycles, noting the contributions of maturation and environment.

8.      Describe the organization and sequence of motor development.

9.      Describe the 4 factors that produce advancing motor skills.

10.  Discuss how culture influences motor skills development.

11.  Explain the fundamentals of Classical Conditioning and its relevance to infant development.

12.  Explain the fundamentals of Operant Conditioning and its relevance to infant development.

13.  Explain the fundamentals of Habituation and Dishabituation and its relevance to infant development.

14.  Explain the fundamentals of Imitation and its relevance to infant development.

15.  Summarize infant hearing, with special attention to speech perception.

16.  Summarize the development of infant vision, including depth, pattern, and object perception.

17.  Describe intermodal perception and the evidence that it is present very early.


Chapter 6 Infant Cognitive Development


1.      Explain Piagetís basic concepts of: schemes; adaptation; assimilation; accomodation; equilibrium and disequilibrium; and organization.

2.      Describe each of the 6 substages of the sensorimotor stage.

3.      Evaluate Piagetís view of infant cognitive development.

4.      Describe the structure of the Information Processing system including: mental strategies; the sensory register; working memory; and, long term memory.

5.      Describe typical infant abilities with regard to attention, memory and categorization.

6.      Discuss infantile amnesia.

7.      Evaluate the Information Processing view of infant cognitive development.

8.      Explain Vygotskyís sociocultural theory.

9.      Describe three major theories of language development including the importance each gives to biological and environmental influences.

10.  Explain how cooing and babbling, turn taking games, and adult responsiveness contribute to language development.

11.  Describe typical first words and two-word combinations, underextension and overextention.

12.  Discuss cultural differences in language development.

13.  Explain how child-directed speech, conversational give and take, and reading to young children support early language development.


Chapter 7 Emotional and Social Development in Infancy


1.      Describe how emotions emerge and change in the first year, especially happiness, anger and fear.

2.      Summarize the infantís ability to understand and respond to the emotions of others.

3.      Discuss the emergence of self-conscious emotions.

4.      Discuss the development of self-regulation.

5.      Describe what is meant by temperament, how it is measured, and the 3 temperamental styles identified in the NYLS.

6.      Discuss the role of heredity and environment in the stability of temperament, including the goodness of fit model.

7.      Explain the ethological theory of attachment.

8.      Describe the Strange Situation and the 4 patterns of attachment it has shown.

9.      Discuss cultural variations in patterns of attachment.

10.  Discuss the factors that affect attachment security.

11.  Compare fatherís and motherís care-taking styles and attachment relationships with infants.

12.  Discuss the implications of attachment style for future relationships.



Chapter 8 Early Childhood, Physical Development

1.   Describe the changes in body size, proportions and skeletal maturity during early childhood.

2.   Discuss brain development in early childhood, including synaptic growth and pruning, lateralization, and changes that promote links between different parts of the brain.

3.   Describe the impact of emotional well-being, restful sleep, nutrition,and infectious disease on growth and compare child health services in the U.S.with those of other Western nations.

4.   Summarize individual, family, community, and societal factors related to childhood injuries and describe ways to prevent them.

5.   Cite the major milestones of gross and fine motor skills development in early childhood and ways to enhance them.

6.   Describe Gibson's differentiation theory and its relevance to reading and writing.


Chapter 9 Early Childhood, Cognitive Development

  1. Describe the importance of make-believe play in the pre-operational stage.

2.      Describe the characteristics of pre-operational thought.

3.      Contrast Piaget's and Vygotsky's views on the processes of cognitive development.

4.      Discuss the educational implications of Vygotsky's theory.

5.      Describe the changes in attention and memory in early childhood.

6.      Discuss the "Theory of Mind" and its development in preschoolers.

7.      Discuss the development of mathematical concepts and literacy skills in early childhood.

8.      Describe the typical development of language in early childhood and the environmental influences on it.


Chapter 10 Early Childhood, Socio-emotional Development

  1. Describe the preschooler's self-concept and understanding of intentions.
  2. Describe changes in emotional development and self-regulation in early childhood, including the influences of maturation, cognition, language, temperament, and social experiences.
  3. Discuss the contributions of emotional growth and parenting to moral development.
  4. Discuss the contributing factors to aggressive behavior in preschoolers.
  5. Discuss the emergence of gender identity and the genetic and environmental influences on it.
  6. Describe the major styles of parenting, the influences on parents that shape their style, and the effects of parenting style on development.
  7. Discuss child maltreatment its origins and its impact on children.



Chapter 11 Middle Childhood, Physical Development

1.      Describe brain development in middle childhood, including the influences of neurotransmitters and hormones.

2.      Identify common health problems in middle childhood, discuss their causes and consequences, and discuss ways to ameliorate them.

3.      Describe the quality of play in middle childhood, factors that contribute to it, and their adaptive value.

4.      Discuss the importance of high quality physical education during the school years.


Chapter 12 Middle Childhood, Cognitive Development

1.      Describe the major characteristics of Concrete Operational thought.

2.      Evaluate this stage in light of recent research.

3.      Cite 2 basic changes in Information Processing, and describe changes in attention during middle childhood.

4.      Describe the development of memory strategies in middle childhood and discuss the role of knowledge in memory performance.

5.      Describe the school-age childís Theory of Mind, and capacity to engage in cognitive self-regulation.

6.      Discuss teaching strategies in light of findings about information processing.

7.      Describe Sternbergís and Gardnerís theories of intelligence.

8.      Describe the commonly used IQ tests and discuss their relationship to intelligence.

9.      Discuss the hereditary and environmental factors that influence IQ scores and how each of these is related to the performance of ethnic minority children.

10.  Describe changes in language ability and use in middle childhood especially: meta-linguistic awareness, vocabulary, grammar, and pragmatics.

11.  Describe the impact of class size, and educational philosophies on childrenís motivation and achievement.


Chapter 13 Middle Childhood, Socio-Emotional Development

1.      Describe the changes in self-concept, self-esteem and achievement attributions and the factors that contribute to these changes.

2.      Describe changes in emotions, emotional understanding and emotional self-regulation.

3.      Describe changes in moral understanding, and the cultural influences on it.

4.      Describe the importance of peers in middle childhood, and some of the difficulties children sometimes face.

5.      Discuss the major child-rearing issues in middle childhood, and changes in parent-child communication.

6.      Discuss childrenís adjustment to divorce and blended families.