PSY 104: Child and Adolescent Development

Week 1 - Instructor Guidance


Theories attempt to explain what is observed by science. They rely on facts and provide a way to DESCRIBE, EXPLAIN, PREDICT, and in some cases CONTROL a situation.

In Developmental classes like this one, we are trying to Describe, Explain, Predict, and Control the factors and patters that impact human change over the lifespan.

Learning Outcomes

This week students will:

  • Dissect the primary developmental theories by period and domain
  • Assess pervasive issues surrounding child development
  • Demonstrate how the major developmental theories apply to physical, cognitive, and psychosocial development of children and adolescents


In this section you will find my own thoughts and teaching on the subject matter. This does not substitute for the assigned and suggested course readings and other materials.

The Developmental Perspective

I have taught different Developmental classes throughout the years and my basic approach has been the same. While much of Psychology has historically focused on the "abnormal" we benefit the most from the study of Human Development (in this case, Child and Adolescents specifically) when we first consider what is normal.

A lot of the theories that you will encounter in this class describe how children and adolescence change over time across the physical, cognitive, and psychosocial domains. We study what NORMALLY happens.

Once we know what NORMALLY happens we are ready to take the Developmental Perspective (DP).

The DP is simple...FIRST we wonder about any sort of question we might have about people...such as:

  • How does divorce effect the kids?
  • What methods work best to teach someone to manage their diabetes?
  • How do people remember things?

Then we add to AGE to the question! The three questions above are GREAT psychology questions, but they are not developmental. Developmental questions have ages in them:

  • How does divorce effect 10-year-old kids?
  • What methods work best to teach someone to manage their diabetes at age 15?
  • How do 17-year-olds remember things?

The Role of Theory

Here is where theory comes in...all those theories tell you what is NORMALLY happening during those specific ages (at least in general terms). So are answers to the above questions are modified by what we know is normally happening at those ages!

A child of age 4 is going to go through a different process than a child of age 10 should the be involved in a divorce! The difference is not only based on the situations, but on the different NORMAL developmental things that are happening at those different ages.

YOUR Story

The discussions in this class have you relate stories from your own experience. We have all gone through Childhood and we have TONS of stories to tell. If you can't remember them, call the parent of one...they WILL have plenty of stories to tell.

When we connect our personal experience with the information in a class we REALLY learn it!

See if you can see examples from your own life that support the following theories:

  • Psychoanalytic Perspective (Freud)
  • Psychosocial Development (Erikson)
  • Classical and Operant Conditioning (Pavlov, Watson, and Skinner)
  • Social Cognitive Theory (Bandura)
  • Cognitive Perspectives (Piaget and Vygotsky)
  • Information Processing

Different theories come about from having different perspectives...each contributes to an understanding of the whole...which is what YOU need to understand to apply this course material in your life!

Consider This

According to Vygotsky, learning (at any age) is contextual...we learn through socialization. We learn particularly well when we socialize with peers and teachers who are more skilled than us. HOW we interact is defined by our developmental level.

Participating actively in the online discussions (the closest thing we have to social interaction!) is not only required, but according to Vygotsky, NECESSARY for learning to occur!

The Developmental Perspective question related to this point might be "At what age are children ready to be able to learn effectively in an online format?" (Good question for just about ANY age actually!)

Check out this Article

Colorado, J.T. & Eberle, J. (2010). Student demographics and success in online learning environments. Emporia State Research Studies. 46(1). 4-10

Abstract - Understanding the role of student demographics in the online learning environment can assist institutions to make decisions regarding online programs. These decisions go beyond the initial question of whether to invest in online programs or whether to increase or decrease online course availability. This article discusses the relationship between student demographics and success in online learning environments as it relates to academic performance and the possession of self-regulated learning characteristics. Understanding the role of student demographics in the online learning environment also would help institutions understand what resources need to be allocated toward support of online learning programs in the form of online advising and technical support for students, course development support for faculty, and investing in learning-management software or collaboration software.


In this section you will find any specific instructions or ideas I may have for you to support your graded work. Please read the instructions for each task in the course as well as the information I have here.

Post Your Introduction

This is the first graded discussion of the course. Be sure to read the instructions that are listed in the Ashford classroom in detail so you can understand what we are looking for in each aspect of this course!

This particular discussion is an opportunity for us to get to know each other...when you reply to another person's post, ask them a question that goes beyond the basics of this discussion. This will make for a much more interesting conversation!

Discussion: Pervasive Issues

Truth is, once a few have you have put forth the definitions, let's focus instead on the examples. Remember that examples are very different than can probably start the statement of an example with the phrase "When I was a kid..." or "Once when I was babysitting...". Make the stories makes for better discussions.

Discussion: Developmental Domains

With as many students as are in this class it is vital that we don't become to repetitive in the discussion. We do this by reading each other's posts and posting something that ADDS to the discussion.

Pick a theory and domain that interest you in your career plans.

This is also a time to experience what we mean by a Peer Reviewed article.

Click on "Learning Resources" in the course
Click "Ashford Writing Center"
Click the link for the AWC
Hover over "Writing Resources" and then select "How to research Primary Resources"

Take this SERIOUSLY...throughout this class you need to go beyond the book and materials we provide and find peer reviewed articles that support your points. DO NOT post websites or even articles from websites. These are NOT peer reviewed.

Peer reviewed sources are DIFFICULT to read, they are not meant for YOU...but that is the point...over time you will get used to reading this level of work.