PSY 104: Child and Adolescent Development

Week 2 - Instructor Guidance


While a lot of the above milestones are on a very strict developmental timetable (nature), the environment (nurture) can still have a profound impact on development. These expectations also allow us to identify if something wrong is happening when the kids themselves tend to be poor reports as to what is going on with them...mostly due to limits in language.

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Learning Outcomes

This week students will:

  • Discriminate between genetic and environmental influences that contribute to development.
  • Inspect statistics on nutrition and physical development worldwide.
  • Evaluate the contributing genetic factors associated with mental illness diagnosis.


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.

Early Development

There is so much going on during these first three years of life that it is impossible to cover it all. In general, however, we continue to evaluate the respective influences of nature (genetics) and nurture (environment) factors on development.

The genetic code, in DNA letters (T instead of U), and containing amino acids in three representations: full name, 3-letter abbreviation, and 1-letter. Drawn in Inkscape. How to read the genetic code: start from the center circle and go outwards.

So, if the gene has an AGC, that means amino acid serine. A CGA means arginine. And three of the combinations are stop codons, which don't give any amino acid: TAA, TAG, and TGA.

Click HERE to order a t-shirt with this graphic on it!!

Developmental Milestones are clearly etched into our genetic code...but society has views as to when things SHOULD happen so sometimes we get uptight about it. On the other hand, there are markers as to when things really SHOULD occur that alert health professionals that something might be wrong!

For a highly detailed checklist of the expected milestones across this period of time, download THIS file. This is a checklist published by the US Department of Health and Human Services. (Caution, it is 1.2 mb in might take a while to download!)

Click HERE to check out the wealth of information that is available on this topic from the CDC...they also have resources that refer to genetic conditons that you could use in your discussions below!

Writing a Paper and Discovering Peer Reviewed Articles

You are being asked to write your first paper for this class. Writing is critical to being able to communicate what you know so part of this assignment moves beyond learning the CONTENT and into the area of learning how to WRITE.

The Ashford Writing Center has a lot of resources to help you with this process and I highly encourage you to avail yourself of their services. I have also published a number of guides related to doing research, getting to those pesky peer reviewed journals, writing in general, APA formatting. You can find this information at my "Writing Across the Social Sciences" page that I publish for my students at KVCC.

Click HERE to visit this site

Specific formatting expectations for this particlar paper include the following:

    • Your paper is FOCUSED on ONE of the disorders, so you are answering the questions of how abnormalities are passed on and the relative contribution of the mother and father in light of this ONE disorder.
    • Your paper must be formatted using American Psychological Association (APA) formatting standards. To me this includes the following:
      • Title page formatting that includes the name of the paper, your name, the class, and the date
      • In text citations telling your reader where you got your information.
        • Articles are cited such as:
          • "According to Kavanaugh (1998)..."
          • "Nearly all the subjects were represented in the study (Kavanaugh, 1998)"
        • Websites should NOT be the main source of your research and must be professional and valid sources
        • You do not cite your websites in the References page you cite it right in the paper not include all the database language that is often part of a web address...just the main address.
          • "Accoding to the the Department of Justice ("
      • References page is formatted according to APA standards.
      • References are listed in the same manner you find them at the back of your textbook. There are numerous resources on the web available to help you with citations.
    • Write about what you gathered from research, not your opinion. This level of research paper is simply you REPORTING what is being said in the field of psychology, you don't need to draw any conclusions about the material except for identifying trends and ideas.
    • YOU learning outcome from this exercise will be that you have the research and evidence to back up your opinion on the subject matter.


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.

Discussion: Developmental Milestones

As you approach this discussion select ONE developmental milestone relating to either cognitive or psychosocial development. This will allow you to focus on the research aspect of this discussion instead of on some repetitive explanation of ALL the milestones. (You might consider the milestones that are discussed in the CDC document that is linked in the Teaching section above.

In the prompt you are asked to consider a child who is developing speech...consider this same TYPE of question from the point of view of the milestone YOU selected to research instead of just speech. For example...if you selected walking or toilet training as your milestone, how might you approach someone with a child who seems to be "late" in developing these skills?

This will keep us from all talking about what we would do with the poor mom whose child is not speaking in full sentences!

Discussion: Research Findings

I'm going to revise this discussion a bit. I would like you to find only one research finding related to ONE area (cultural influence on nutrition OR genetic factors affecting mental health OR the birthing process).

However, I want you to find a PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL to support your post. This means you cannot use the WEB, you need to go to the Ashford Library and search the databases there. See the comments I have made in the Teaching section above for the specific ideas about a peer reviewed journal article.

Assignment: Children Having Children

My comments on this assignment are simple...make sure that you remember who your AUDIENCE is. As with any paper or presentation, you want to consider attracting the attention of your audience. In this instance your audience is teenage girls so your product should be designed to appeal to them.

The Glogster option is kind of fun.

Assignment: The Role of Genetics on Environment

Here is your first real paper. See the instructions in the teaching section for some pointers about this.