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Welcome to Unit 2
Unit 2 examines the major physical, cognitive, and socioemotional development from early childhood (ages 2-7) to adolescence (ages 12-21). Theorists, such as Piaget and Vygotsky, have widely contributed to our understanding of the cognitive development of children and will be explored in greater detail throughout the coming chapters. In addition, the child’s self- concept and gender identity will be examined from a cultural framework. This unit will also reflect on how the parenting style contributes to the overall personality and degree of emotional attachment. Importantly, signs and symptoms of childhood abuse will be reviewed, as will corrective forms of action.
The middle childhood years (7-12) present a rapid change in academic functioning and physical growth. These milestones, along with changes in social relationships, and family dynamics will be explored in greater detail. Lastly, as we delve into the adolescent years (12-21), everything from the physical changes during puberty to the social and emotional changes associated with teen drug use, sex, and identify formation will be explored. Unit 3 will continue to examine the areas of change and continuity from the young adult years (early 20’s-early 40’s) to the late adult years (early 60’s through death).
Student Learning Outcomes
- Students will recognize and respect the complexity of sociocultural diversity and individual differences.
- Students will recognize, compare, and apply the core domains of psychology.
- Students will recognize the value of psychology in professional and personal domains.
- Describe and give examples from the literature of biological, physical, cognitive and socioemotional 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.
- 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 text and complete the activities
- Consider all of the factors that contribute to school readiness for the ages 6-8. What should be done with children who are delayed? Do you think they should be held back a grade until they demonstrate adequate skills, or be permitted to move up with their peers? Explain your answer using theorists and class concepts. You might consider Piaget, Erikson, and Vygotsky!
- Should basic algebra be taught to first graders? (Explain, based on Piaget. Instructor might discuss examples about when it has been done – Good class discussion!)
- Unpack and explain what is meant by this quote from Albert Bandura: "Humans are producers of their life circumstances, not just products of them."
- What parenting style did you grow up with? (Ideas: poll, private short essay on how it impacted them, or class discussion with voluntary shares of experiences)
- With bullying, I typically like to start this piece as I do with many others – with opening with a discussion on what the class thinks the answers are. This is a strong, Socratic way of building on their expectations, challenging thinking, and encouraging discussion. You could do this in either an online or f2f format: simply have the students jot down what they think the characteristics of bullies are and reasons why the bully – and use this as a launching pad for lecture.
- Consider the contrasting physical development between the genders at the beginning of adolescence, especially for the boys. Think also of the exponential growth made in the following years. What does this mean for social experiences for boys and girls – especially boys – in high schools that include 9th grade? This discussion should also lead to the concept of the top-dog phenomenon.
- What should we tell teenagers about sex? What should the role of schools be in sex education? How much should they be involved, and how in-depth should that discussion be? Should they take a stance, or should it be neutral?
- How do we see examples of the personal fable in television, movies, and books? Can you think of an example of a movie/tv show/book about adolescence that does NOT incorporate the personal fable? I challenge you! Discuss.
- In what ways can adolescent egocentrism - the personal fable and imaginary audience – contribute to high-risk behavior? How does cognitive development play a part in this as well?
- In what ways does social media – Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, even texting – have an impact on teenagers' development? You should consider all three domains: physical (e.g. weight, activity, geographical access, etc.), social (e.g. identity, bullying, sexual content, friendships, etc.), and cognitive (e.g. attention, bias, content, etc.).
Early Childhood: Ages 2-7
Activity 1: Students will have a choice (to give them a sense of agency and exception if they do not have access (or permission) to work with a young child) between the following:
- "Toy Store Tour"
- Description: Visit a toy store and look at the toys through the eyes of a toddler. Identify the store that you visited and summarize your experience. Then, identify and explain at least four specific course concepts or principles that are relevant to your experience. For each concept or principle, explain how your knowledge of this information enhanced your experience. You might consider reflecting on the following questions, but do not feel limited to them:
- Which toys seemed to be the most popular?
- How do the toys facilitate physical and/or cognitive development?
- Do the toys appear to facilitate or hinder social interaction/cooperation? Why?
- Do these toys appear to encourage imaginative play, or do their sounds, lights, colors, and gadgets prevent the need for imagination? Describe some examples.
- What differences do you notice among the toys that may contribute to gender identity?
- What do you notice in the toy store that you have not thought to consider before?
Activity 2: Conservation Project
- Description: Complete Piaget's conservation tasks with a young child (3 – 5 years old). Make sure to complete all four tasks (volume, number, matter, and length) using liquid, checkers (or candy, etc.), clay, and a stick (or ruler). Give a brief summary of your impressions of your experience in your introduction. Then, identify and explain three-four specific course concepts that helped you to understand your experience better. Finally, explain how these course concepts made your experience more meaningful. Though Piaget's theory will probably provide most of the course content that you will explain and apply, you are welcome to use other course content.
Middle Childhood: Ages 7-12
Activity: Diary of a Middle School Kid
Description: The major piece of this activity is the creation of two diary entries of two very different children. You will imagine 'a day in the life of' for them, and what each would be writing in their diary or journal at the end of such a day. To begin, you will want to conceptualize two children from diverse backgrounds and contexts. Use class concepts and theory to inform your choices in what would impact the child's life: e.g. parenting style, friendships, how they are coping through Erikson's stage of development, sociocultural factors, socioeconomic factors, etc. Your choices can be yours, they simply must be very different to give your entries contrast and practice in concept application and imagining what their lives would look like. Next, you should hand write the diary entry – be as creative as you like! - for each individual. Diary entries should be personalized, in the first person, and evocative of what the child is going through to demonstrate class concepts. Lastly, write a brief analysis that describes your choices and the relevance of class concepts to your diary entries
Adolescence: Ages 12-21
Activity: "Freaks & Geeks"
Description: This is an in-class viewing of the pilot episode of the television show Freaks and Geeks. It is available with a Netflix account and utilizes closed captioning. Students will be given a sheet with the following questions for a preview of what to look for, as well as a character list. Students should be encouraged to take notes while viewing. For the activity, students can either write a response in-class, or as an at-home assignment to be turned in the next class period. The following are the character list and questions:
- Character List: Lindsay, Daniel, Alan, Mr. Rosso, Sam, Nick, Millie, Neal, Ken, Cindy, Bill, Kim, Eli
- Find and discuss examples of identity development. There is A LOT of material here!
- Compare and contrast the relationship between the cheerleader and football player at the beginning of the show, with Sam and Cindy. Discuss Sam's feelings about Cindy and relate these with norms.
- Discuss how top-dog phenomena is demonstrated in the show, particularly in the gym scene.
- Compare and contrast Alan's style of bullying with Kim's. Discuss how Sam deals with the bullying, and what inferences you might make about Alan.
- Discuss the involvement, conflict, and conversations between Sam and Lindsay and their parents.
- Give examples of outcomes from the amplified limbic system, and/or delayed prefrontal cortex experienced by any of these adolescents.
- What do you think about how Lindsay handled the scene on the football bleachers with the boys and Eli? Consider moral development in your response.
- Do you think Lindsay is “at-risk”? Why or why not? Use examples from the show to support your answer.
- Discuss anything else you noticed or think is important to mention! I have not said it all!
Supplemental Readings and Videos
Moral Development across development (Socioemotional Childhood through Adolescence)
Gangs (Socioemotional Development in Adolescence)
Executive Function (Cognitive Development in Childhood through Adolescence)