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PSYC 2103 Human Development OER: Unit 1

Welcome to Unit 1

Unit I covers the fascinating world human development from a historical perspective. The nature/nurture controversy will be discussed, as will the scientific methods used to collect and analyze data. This unit will also cover a brief introduction and overview of the major theoretical perspectives, from Piaget’s Cognitive Theory to Erikson’s Emotional and Social Theory. Students will learn to apply these frameworks to the changes and continuities of the human lifespan.

As we begin to explore the biological beginnings, starting with preconception, we will examine known causes of infertility, risk factors associated with the pregnancy, and several known teratogens, or environmental causes of birth defects. We will explore the ever changing growth during the baby’s first year by examining the sensory development, which includes physical, social, and cognitive changes. This overview will set the stage for the exploration of milestones in Unit II, covering early childhood development through adolescence

Learning Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students will recognize and respect the complexity of socio-cultural diversity and individual differences.
  • Students will recognize, compare, and apply the core domains of psychology.
  • Students will recognize, apply, and evaluate the fundamental methods and statistics of psychological science.
  • Students will recognize the value of psychology in professional and personal domains.

Course Objectives

  • Describe and give examples from the literature of biological, physical, cognitive and socio-emotional development as an ongoing set of processes, which involve change as well as continuity.
  • Recognize differing perspectives and points of view (e.g., psychoanalytic, cognitive, behavioral, social cognitive, ethological, and ecological theoretical perspectives.
  • Explain how research in psychology, which is based on theory, contributes to the understanding of human development.
  • Recall important developmental concepts and be able to recognize and apply these concepts in various situations, both normative as well as problematic.

Things to Consider

Below are a list of questions that should be considered as you read through the content and complete the activities

  1. How is it possible for our genetics to influence our environment and our environment to influence our genetics (reciprocal determinism)?
  2. Why do we seem to prefer stage theories versus contiguous theories for explaining human development?
  3. How might the question of nature versus nurture be misleading?
  4. How does Vygotsky’s theory of learning help us understand the interaction between the individual and his environment? Give two examples.
  5. Do girls have a “moral voice” that is different from boys’? Explain.
  6. Is it possible to condition any behavior through operant conditioning techniques?
  7. How do the additive effects of adverse childhood experiences impact the developing brain?
  8. How will technology change the course of pregnancy in the future?  Will state of the art gestation include medical care of the fetus?
  9. Why is it important to conduct research on infants and children? What special ethical considerations must researchers consider when doing so?
  10. What are “vulnerability statistics,” and how do they contribute to our knowledge of maternal/fetal/infant mortality?


The Court’s Treatment of Substance-Abusing Pregnant Women Activity

  1. Do you think that mothers who use drugs during pregnancy should face criminal prosecution?
  2. Might this policy keep some pregnant women from getting prenatal care and having a hospital delivery?
  3. How far should the prosecution go?
  4. What alternative solutions can you suggest?
  5. Is fetal abuse equivalent to child abuse?
  6. Should fathers who use drugs during their partner’s pregnancy face criminal prosecution? [According to Windham & others (1992), maternal exposure to environmental tobacco smoke for one hour or more per day is associated with spontaneous abortion. According to Roeleveld & others (1992), paternal smoking is related to mental retardation in offspring.]
  7. Do you think a wife should be able to sue her husband for infertility problems caused by use of cocaine? (Cocaine usage lowers sperm count, increases abnormally shaped sperm, and decreases sperm mobility. Infertility problems may last more than two years after a man quits using cocaine.)
  8. Research suggests that mothers who smoke tobacco during pregnancy and up to the time their children are 5 years old increase the risk of their offspring getting asthma. Should smoking mothers be prosecuted?
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