Developmental Theories Paper

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Objective

The primary goal for the assignment is to demonstrate that you understand and have insight into the period of infant / toddler  for each age group.  A secondary goal is to demonstrate understanding of theories of human development as a psychological foundation for life and for teaching.

You will do this by:

Asking three developmentally-relevant questions for each age group (3 questions for infants and three for toddlers) that can be answered through your readings and research;

Collecting data and notes through our course modules and online research of theorist and children in each age group;

Using the data and research collected to answer each of your questions;

Analyzing whether research support or challenge theories of development for the age group and describe in detail each development domain (social, emotional, physical and/or cognitive).

  1. Reflect on your experience as a researcher and student of human development.
  2. Required components
  3. Section 1: Theory based questions – Based on your reading of the relevant modules, formulate 3 original developmentally-significant questions that can be answered through research.
  4. For each age group:
  5. Describe its theoretical basis (What in the course material made you think of this particular question?);

Explain its practical significance for understanding human development and/or addressing policy issues (Why is this question important to answer?).

Example:

My first  theoretical question deals with the infants’ interactions with each other. I asked, “Will infants voluntarily interact with, and possibly learn from, their peers?” Both Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory and Bandura’s Social Cognitive Learning Theory provide a basis that both of these things can and do indeed happen, even at this young age. Vygotsky argues that we learn how to behave from the people immediately around us, especially adults and people our own age who have more-developed skills than we do (Class Notes, 9/8/08; Module 4.2 and 4.3). For Vygotsky, this happens very directly and in a hands-on way:  someone who already has the cultural skills a child needs to develop (e.g. putting a puzzle together, using a spoon to eat, or reading a book) guides the child through a task that uses those cultural skills. Without the example and direct instruction of people already knowledgeable and skilled in our culture, we do not know how to act. Bandura, on the other hand, stresses that we can learn by observing other people and choosing when/if to imitate their behaviors: if I see someone else behave a certain way and be rewarded for that behavior, then I store that information for later use, and I may imitate that person’s behavior if I think the situation I am in is similar d I want a similar outcome (Class Notes and Behaviorism Handout). For example, if I see my older brother throw a tantrum and get the toy he wants from my mom, then the next time I want something from my mom, I might remember what my brother did and choose to imitate him by throwing a tantrum. This question is important because it explores just how social of a being human are even in the first few years of life. This question also has some significance because it can show that, not only can infants learn and grow themselves, but they also can be vehicles of growth for other infants at the same time.

Section 2:  Analysis of the Data

In this section, you apply theories from the textbook (Wittmer, D. S., & Petersen, S. H. (2017). Infant and Toddler Development and Responsive Program Planning. (4th edition) ) and your research to your data, and you assess whether your questions were answered and what those answers are. This section is the heart of your paper and includes a detailed examination of your data.

For each of your three questions:

State the question. Then list the relevant observed behaviors from videos or a child you know that you can safely observe. Child must be within the age range for this assignment.

For each question you asked, explain how the data (research) used to answer your question. Link specific behaviors researched to the individual mechanics of the theories you choose to apply. Make sure you are specific and demonstrate that you understand each theory. If you were not able to answer a question, explore reasons. For example, what other kind(s) of data or types of research might have been more useful? What should you have seen if the theory is correct?

In total, you must use at least two theories: use a different theory for each question. At least two theories must be from the textbook chapters’ specific to the age group observed. Include full citations for the references you use: do not use someone else’s ideas or words without All papers will be cited and written in APA format. Papers submitted for grade that do not follow this will be given as score of zero (0) and will not be made-up.

  1. NOTE: Failure to include correct citations will result in a lower grade and may be considered academic dishonesty. This applies to textbook material, research and class notes. When describing a theory, translate the ideas into your own words. Do not simply copy from class notes, the modules, or another source. If you use a direct quotation, place it in quotation marks and include the page number or day of class from which you took that quote.

Example:

  1. Question 1: “Will infants voluntarily interact with, and possibly learn from, their peers?” Research relevant to this question:

The two boys play with toy cars next to each other (found on YouTube- link and date retrieved)

Two boys fight for the same car (Video provided on Module 10 – date viewed)

CONTINUE TO MAKE YOUR LIST OF TEN AND PROVIDE CITATION FOR WHERE YOU FOUND THIS INFORMATION. YOU MAY USE AND CITE INFORMATION FOUND IN YOUR TEXTBOOK, COURSE MODULES, AND WEB BASED RESEARCH.

The information gathered supports the question of whether infants will voluntarily interact with one another and also shows some support that they learn from each other. The data show that the boys do not have to be prompted to both approach and interact with their peers. They recognized one another, fought, consoled, and played together on their own. This particular group of infant-aged children fall into American society, where being “social” is a norm. According to Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory, these boys playing next to each other and staying in close proximity to each other is to be expected because of the social nature of the society they are in. Not only would Vygotsky say they are acting as expected, but he would also say that just by being together, they are learning and developing.  K. Berger, author of The Developing Person Through Childhood and Adolescence, says that “Vygotsky portrayed the child’s development as inseparable from social and cultural activities” (Worth, 2013, p. 19). In essence, these boys not only answered the question I asked but also confirmed, in line with Vygotsky’s theory, that they learn from their peers at this stage of development. Even the simple gesture of one boy putting his hand on another boy’s head and saying “Sam” is supporting growth and development according to Vygotsky’s theory, because one boy is being culturally appropriate by trying to comfort the crying boy. We have to assume that the boy learned by watching someone else who already knew how to comfort someone, and now he is trying out the behavior on his peer.

To see another theorist’s perspective on the same question, we need only look at one specific interaction between the boys being observed. When one boy began to cry, the other two boys responded to the crying boy in some way. One of the boys made noises at the crying boy, and that did not stop the crying. After seeing this, the third boy offered the crying boy a toy, but he did not stop crying. This interaction could suggest that the third boy observed the first boy’s reaction to the crying boy, and when he saw it did not work, he tried something else. (The assumption is that both boys are trying to stop the crying, which might not be accurate.) This is something clearly described in Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory. As stated in Essentials of Life-Span Development, Bandura’s “early research program focused heavily on observational learning (also called imitation or modeling), which is learning that occurs through observing what others do” (Santrock, 2013, p. 20). The book goes on to say that “Social cognitive theorists stress that people acquire a wide range of behaviors,

thoughts, and feelings through observing others’ behavior and that these observations form an important part of life-span development” (Santrock, 2013, p. 21).  Bandura’s theory directly relates to this small interaction because it shows that the boys learned different ways to try to stop someone from crying and learned by watching each other.

Section 3: Summary & Reflection

Answer these questions (one complete paragraph for each question):

What did you learn about the developmental theories you chose to discuss? What did you learn overall about development at this stage, including how to care for or teach children of this age?

Reflect on the meaning of this assignment for you personally. (Be clear and detailed in this section and how you may have felt about the switch of the assignment mid-semester. Consider the following questions: Thinking about your own experiences from this age, what is most interesting about the data you collected? What insights into your past has this project inspired? How will the lessons you learned through this project impact your future behavior in general or as a professional?

use information from the textbook Wittmer, D. S., & Petersen, S. H. (2017). Infant and Toddler Development and Responsive Program Planning. (4th edition)

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