Essentials PEPSI Elementary Adolescence Advanced CD
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ESE504 : The Class : Elementary : ACD

Applying Child Development

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We assume that we understand human development, for each of us has first hand understanding of what it means to learn and to mature. Some of us have a knack for math that seemed to come naturally to us, while other skills were more difficult to establish. We each have our own unique finger print, DNA sample, and personality. We have much in common with others, but we also are different from everyone else. We developed skills, abilities and interests at our own pace, too.

The idiosyncratic nature of our development is very exciting, but also frustrating. It helps explain why we can experience development without fully understanding children. Isn't it startling, in some sense, to recognize how little we understand of the developmental process?

I felt as though I unfolded anew, as I watched my children take different routes through walking, talking, peer pressure, school problems, first loves, heartbreaks, and disappointments. I went through them, but they had a different meaning for me when I was the intimate observer rather than the participant. It was like the difference in what you see and experience as a driver or as the passenger in a car.

As we look for answers about human development, we certainly give credence to case studies and material that focuses on one person's vantage. We honor personal accounts and journals of life experiences.

Piaget's findings, and many of his ideas came through observing his own three youngsters. Different stories, different lives, and we combine them to come to understand who children are and how they develop.

How do you suppose Sigmund Freud saw children? What kind of a life did his daughter, Anna, have.

What about B.F. Skinner's two children? Did the one who spent her infancy in a box develop normally? Do we see Skinner referring to her as a developing child? Did he see his child in any of the ways that I perceive or view youngsters? Probably not. This is how I came to be interested in research.

How did Bandura determine that aggression could be passed from a model to the observing child?

How did Lorenz or Bowlby decide that bonding was a critical early step? How did we arrive at the notion that children are ready to read by kindergarten?

How many teachers realize that fourth graders need to talk, that early adolescents are both sure of themselves and so splintered that a chance remark turns them into a bundle of toothpicks?

Do teachers of second graders see whining as part of the development of an internal sense of right and wrong, or just get worn thin with hearing it?

We have thousands of pieces of research published each year. Are the studies we depend on to inform our practices, sound? Are we learning from the research, or using it to inform our practice?

When two studies of a classroom come to different conclusions, which facts or perceptions are we to believe? Our theory and what we choose to look at determines in large part what we come to see as understanding children.

This assignment asks that we look at and establish a savvy way to increase our expertise in observing children and thinking about what we are seeing. The following guidelines were developed recently for examining experimental studies.

Critique of Experimental Research

(* Not well versed in research designs, or clear about the ideas in experimental research? Check out these great sites for a refresher!) null hypothesis , experimental design

1. Identify the independent variable and the dependent variables. Did the author identify all the dependent variables? (Did they hold the right thing constant and did it make a difference?)

2. Was a relationship identified between the variables - (did the thing they switched around actually have a bearing on the person's behaviors, or was it a coincidence, explainable another way?)

3. How appropriate is it to conclude that changes in the independent variable caused the changes in the dependent variable - (Did changing one thing really change the other?)

4. How strong is the relationship between the variables and could it be a function of the size or particular group chosen - (Did this happen because only three kids were studied, or because it was a girl's school in Denver, or because it was right before lunchtime, or did the treatment really make a difference?)

5. How important is the finding in relationship to the question - (Is this going to tell us kids should not watch violence on TV, or did somebody go through an exercise, find something for themselves, but not really come to any generalizable conclusions?)

6. What other things may have affected the outcome - (can other people do the same thing and have it come out the same way, or were there circumstances that make this unique to this one study?)

Assignment Three

1. Review the discussion of research studies on pp. 57 - 62 of the Santrock text.

2. Find a research study on children for each of the designs.

Article: APA style notation*
Case Study Provides detailed description of one person's behavior (case study)  
Correlation Compares two specific associations for a relationship  
Longitudinal Looks at a group of characteristics over a long period of time or at intervals that follow through the life of a behavior or subject  
Cross-sectional Children of different ages are studied to see if a characteristic is age specific, when it first emerges, or increases or decreases at different ages  
Cross-sequential A cross-sequential sample is studies, and then restudied at several points to see if the effects are lasting  
Experimental Participants are matched on a number of factors and then one variable is manipulated while everything else is kept as close to the  

3. Read each study and make a list of strengths and weaknesses you found

4. Relate those to how useful the research will be to you as a consumer -- parent, teacher, person on the street.

5. Send a summary paper that identifies the six studies, using APA style references, and briefly critique each one for a)quality of research, b)strengths or weaknesses, inherent in the type of study or apparent from the way the author conducted the work, c)usefulness


Excellent Six different designs are indicated by the titles of articles chosen, each is critiqued as to usefulness, strength of the type of research and individual differences that occurred through that particular piece of research and the way it was conducted or reported
Good Six different designs were identified, but critique is not incisive
Marginal Appear to have difficulty identifying distinguishing characteristics of the types of research. Student will be given additional guidance in recognizing and critiquing research.

* APA style -- if you are uncertain about how to cite articles using the American Psychological Association (APA) reference style you can purchase the current 4th edition at a book store - a good idea if you are working toward an advanced degree - or look in the back of your text, since the author will use APA style in citing the references.

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Course developed by J'Anne Ellsworth

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