PSY 104: Child and Adolescent Development

Week 1 - Instructor Guidance


Learning Outcomes

This week students will:

  • Research career options available within the field of child and adolescent development
  • Describe how a career in the field incorporates stages, domains, and theories of child and adolescent development.
  • Identify theory as a foundation for human behavior.
  • Reflect on how theory and research are utilized in understanding and predicting child and adolescent behavior.
  • Identify techniques for finding and utilizing scholarly research to enhance, support, or challenge anecdotal evidence.


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 Role of Theory and Research

Nearly every course in Psychology is a study of theory and the research that supports theory.

While this may be true...some theories are more useful than others, some may resonate with other beliefs you have better, and some theories are outdated...but all theories may be somewhat useful.

We have lots of theories in human development because we are trying to describe VERY complex changes!

In Human Development we study the theories that describe "normal" or "expected" changes in a person across time. This allows us to meet the goals of the study of Psychology:

  • Describe Behavior (terminology)
  • Explain Behavior (theory)
  • Predict Behavior (theory)
  • Control Behavior (intervention)

Sometimes events like divorce, accidents, etc happen in a persons life. We want to know how this might impact someone so that we can intervene in the right way. When we encounter psychological questions in this course we want to take the Developmental Perspective. The DP simply adds age to the questions we have. So...for example:

Let's say we want to know the answer the following questions: "How does losing the ability to walk impact someone?"

This is not complete, because losing the ability to walk will impact people at different ages differently. Here are some DP questions along this same line:

  • How does losing the ability to walk impact a 2 month old?
  • How does losing the ability to walk impact a 2 year old?
  • How does losing the ability to walk impact a 14 year old?
  • How does losing the ability to walk impact a 25 year old?
  • How does losing the ability to walk impact a 80 year old?

As you can tell the answer to these questions are different based on HOW OLD the person is. We study what NORMALLY happens at the ages of 2 months, 2 years, 14 years, etc. etc. so that we can predict ways in which something "losing the ability to walk" will impact someone.

Problem Solving to Answer Questions about Development

By taking the DP we can better problem-solve and come up with better solutions to challenges.

If you are a nurse and you have a patient who needs to be taught how to manage their Type I Diabetes, knowing how old that person is will enable you to customize your training to fit their developmental understanding.

Research that you encounter often apply very creative experimental measures to figure out how people are behaving across the lifespan.

By learning how to access this high level, primary resource, you are better equipped to solve the problems you face in the workplace.

Scholarly Resources

If you have to make an important decision, where are you going to go to get good, reliable information?

  • Google
  • Mom or Dad
  • My church

While these are all good sources, the best source for many questions can be found in scholarly resources. These are not all there is out there, but they should definitely shape some of your thinking.

Scholarly sources have the following attributes that make them reliable:

  • The writers are experts in their field
  • Studies and experiments have to follow strict guidelines to avoid bias and poor results
  • Other experts in the field have reviewed the article and have confirmed that it is good enough to publish
  • Other experts can comment on, critique, and dismiss the findings of an article at any time

Can you say this about other sources of information?


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

In Online learning it is critical to develop a sense of connection with your peers and your instructor. This discussion provides you the opportunity to introduce yourself to your peers. It asks you to do more than that though.

We are distant from one another in time and space, but we can still connect in significant ways!

This first week focuses on the variety of careers in child and adolescent development. In addition, many of you may be taking this course not so much to get into a specific career working with children and/or adolescence, but because it will enrich your parenting or a part of some other job.

Look ahead in the course and find interesting topics that this course is going to cover...finding something you can really be passionate about is key to making the course go well. In addition, the discussion asks you to reflect on some of the technological innovations in this class...there is a little "technophobe" in each of us!

I look forward to getting to know you, your interests, and maybe a little bit about your fears, in this discussion!

NOTE: In all discussions you are not only required to answer the instructions of the discussion prompt, but you also need to reply to your peers' posts. Your reply must also be substantive and add significant content to the, simply saying "Nice job" or "I agree" (or any wordy version of that!) is not sufficient. These instructions apply to ALL the graded discussions in the course and will not be repeated.

For full credit on THIS discussion you need to post substantive responses to at least THREE of your peers.

Discussion 1: Careers in Child Development

In this discussion you are asked to explore the wide variety of different careers out there that have you working with children and adolescence. If you are not quite sure what you want to do yet, this is a GREAT opportunity for you to do some serious career exploration.

Another potential resource for information on jobs is the O*NET Online. Click the image below to visit that website. Have fun with this one and do some active career searching. While you may thing that you already know what you want to do, it might be interesting to look at some related careers!

For full credit on THIS discussion you need to post substantive responses to at least TWO of your peers.

Journal: Importance of Theory and Research in Child Development

Calling this assignment a "Journal" is somewhat of a trick! Journals consist of ONLY personal reflection but THIS journal has to do more than that!

One quote I am fond of using is this: "Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

What this means is that as academics you need to put all your presumptions about what you know to the test. This can be very scary because these assumptions and ways of viewing the world are dear to us and make up who we are. But this is the task of education! Do the facts, gathered in the best possible ways, support or refute your beliefs?

To this end you are charged with exploring material in this class through an analysis of the "Literature" that is available in the field. This literature is the totality of all the professionally peer-reviewed articles that have been published in journals. The tough task of dealing with this type of information is that it was not written for you, it was written for other professionals in the field. I'm a professional in the field and I find some of it hard to digest!

In my classes at KVCC, I provide my students with this link as an explanation as to what a Peer Reviewed Journal is. Be sure to review this resource and the ones provided in the class as you approach this journal assignment.

What is a Peer Reviewed Article?