Sonoma State University
Education 420
Child Development in the Family, School, and Community

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Weekly Homework

State of America's Children

Developmental Theories Paper and Presentation

In-Depth Study Requirements and Grade
In-Depth Study Presentation
Presentation Rubric

Ideas for In-Depth Studies

Weekly Homework
Each week there will be a short written assignment due.  In this assignment you will be either responding to the reading or applying some of the concepts learned. Assignments are designed so that you can make personal connections to the subject matter and facilitate your understanding of the course material. 

No late homework is accepted.  For the weeks that you will be posting on WebCT, you do not need to submit a hard copy, though you may wish to print up your responses for the class discussions and in-class exams.

The homework assignments and important resources are listed below.

Library Research: (5 pts.)
As an SSU student, you have access to several excellent databases.  For this homework assignment, please use the library research page:

Use either the ERIC, Ebsco, or the Academic Search links.  Look for an article that pertains to child development, family relationships, or educational practices in schools.  Be specific in your search; don’t type in “child development” but instead a topic of interest to you (e.g. growth hormones, sibling rivalry, diagnosing ADHD.)  Make sure that the article is from a peer-reviewed, professional journal.  If you are not sure, a full list of references at the end of the article is an indication of the academic rigor of the authors. Bring this article to class with a 1-paragraph synopsis.

To access these databases from your home computer, you must set up a library pin code.  If you would like more support in conducting research, the library offers several workshops each week. 

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WebCT  Reflections: (5 pts. each)
WebCT can be accessed at:
Login with your LDAP user ID and password. After finding this course, go to the Discussion Forum.  Look for the correct name of the discussion forum, and post your response there.

I strongly suggest that you write your reading responses in a word processing document and then copy and paste this into the compose window on our course WebCT site. This way you can save your work to refer to it later as well as use spell and grammar check. If you need assistance with the use of WebCT, contact web support at IT. 

Reflections must be posted online prior to our class meeting.  You will be posting both your own reflection and also responding to at least one classmate’s reflection.

WebCT Response #1 – Erikson’s stages
After reading about Erikson’s stages of development, describe an episode from your own past or from your memories of friends or siblings which would exemplify one of Erikson’s stages.  Discuss the child’s endeavors and the response of others.  Then explain how this anecdote fits into Erikson’s stage. For example, you could retell how you got your driver’s license: how this contributed to your growing independence, how this affected your relationship to your family, and how this compares to the conflicts which Erikson describes in the identity vs role confusion stage.  Post your response in the subject entitled with the Erikson stage that you are describing .  Respond to a classmate’s posting in another stage.

WebCT Response #2- Reflection on learning
Think about a time when you learned something new, either as a child or a teen. What were the conditions of learning -- were you alone, or was someone helping you? what kind of feedback were you given? what did you learn and how did you learn it? is it something that you still remember how to do and what helped you remember it? Write up a 1-2 paragraphs describing this learning episode. Entitle the subject with what you learned. When posting your reflection, see whether a similar subject has already been posted, and include your posting there, by replying to a classmate's post. Read the reflections of 2 of your classmates.

WebCT Response #3– Debate on juvenile justice
After reading about adolescent development in the textbook and the supplementalarticles, consider this question:  Should teenagers be considered as adults in the legal system, regarding age limits for drinking, driving, smoking, enlisting in the military, and for court sentences for incarceration and for the death sentence?  Write either a pro or con response, then post your response in either the subject for pro or con.  Respond to a classmate’s posting on the other discussion side.

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In-Depth Study Proposal – Include all of this information in your posting on WebCT:

  • Name:
  • Topic of study:
  • Why are you researching this topic; why is it relevant to you and to society:
  • Your inquiry question (for research paper):
  • If doing a creative project, describe its structure:
  • What assistance can you use:

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Preschool Observation: (10 pts.)
To apply what you are reading about young children’s development and strategies for fostering learning, you are to visit a preschool program for a 40-60 minute observation period.  Use the observation sheets distributed in class to help focus your attention.  Remember that you are not only observing the children, but also looking at the physical environment and teacher-child interactions.

The Children’s School at SSU, is a vibrant learning community, and it is easy to schedule an observation appointment there by calling: 664-2230.  You may also visit another preschool or daycare center that you are familiar with.

Submit your observation notes with a 2-paragraph reflection:  What did you observe that reflected what you are learning in this course?  What did you observe which surprised you?

Use the following link to print the observation pages (PDF) . (Download Acrobat Reader)

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Other Homework:

Cognitive Development: Afer reading Chapter 3 in Gopnik,, write a paragraph describing a significant experiment, and explain its relevance to infant cognition.
( 5 pts.

Book Group Discussion: Consider all of your book group's discussion questions and come to class prepared to comment on each. In writing, answer question #1 and another question decided upon with your group members.
( 10 pts.)

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State of America's Children Presentation: (20 pts.)
With a small group, you will research and summarize the status of California's children, focusing on either health or education. You will develop a poster and a 1-page handout describing the highlights of your research and explain your findings to the class. Your primary source will be the information compiled by the organization Children Now in its annual publication: The State of the State's Children. You might also want to refer to the Children's Defense Fund webpages.

Poster and Handout:  In your poster and handout, include these items:

  • the main issues which are detailed in your topic(s) and why they are important
  • the current statistics about the status of California children in this area
  • how different populations are affected in regards to this issue
  • recommendations (yours and/or Children Now's)
  • names of community resource agencies that your group researched

You will have class time for research and also for preparing the poster.  Your handout can include the same research and ideas that are presented on your poster.  Your grade on this assignment will be based on your knowledge of your subject content, the usefulness of your handout and poster, and how clearly your group presents the issues. (20 points)

Community Resource Report:  Research a local community agency that offers services in the area that you are studying for The State of America's Children. Visit or phone the agency that you are describing and complete this template. Post your report under the relevant subject heading.  (10 points)

Resource Report Template
(post on WebCT)

  • Name of Agency
  • Address       
  • Phone Number          
  • Internet address if applicable
  • Purpose/Mission of Agency and what is offered to the community (be very specific in your explanation of the services provided)
  • Specific Population Served
  • How People Can Receive Services
  • How Agency is Funded
  • Your Evaluation of Agency: (outreach, availability of resources, user-friendliness,   effectiveness in the delivery of services, meeting community's needs, etc.)

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Developmental Theories Paper and Presentation (80 points)

With a small group of classmates you will become experts on a developmental theory.  The class will be reading general information in the textbook, but in this assignment, your group will delve further by researching other sources and making connections to what we are learning in this course. There are 2 parts of this assignment, the presentation and the paper.

  • Presentation: Your group will present your new understandings using a powerpoint format combined with a related discussion, not to exceed 30 minutes.  As a group, you may decide to divide the presentation requirements among group members, however, each person must be knowledgeable about all sections.  The powerpoint slides must be posted on WebCT.

The essential components are:

    1. The history of the theorists and theories; the historical context of the ideas and the people who write about them; how did this theory fit into other theories that preceded it?
    2. The basic constructs or main ideas of the theory; how does development occur?
    3. The key terms and their definitions related to this theory
    4. The developmental milestones, stages and characteristics of the theory -- what happens to human beings in infancy, toddlerhood, early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence, according to the theory?
    5. The domains of development that are addressed by the theory (e.g. cognitive, physical, social, language, moral, emotional); the domains that are not well addressed; the ways that differences are addressed in this theory
    6. How this theory is applied in the real world, e.g. in parenting, teaching, advertising?
    7. Sources used in your research
  • Paper:  The paper is an individual reflection on the theory that you studied.  You will write a 2-3 page paper responding to these questions:
    1. What are the strengths of this theory?  What are its limitations? 
    2. In what ways and in what contexts have you observed the beliefs of this theory in your own life and education?
    3. How does this theory compare to another that you have learned about in this course? 
    4. How does this theory fit into your own belief system about how children develop?

The theories researched will be:
Attachment Theories (Bowlby, Ainsworth)
Cognitive Dvpt: Constructivist Theories (Piaget)
Socio-Cultural Theories (Vygotsky)
Theories of Intelligence (Binet, Gardner)
Behaviorism and Social learning Theories (Watson, Skinner, Bandura)
Theories of Moral Development (Kohlberg, Gilligan)

Presentation: 50 points, graded by instructor, classmates and group members.  Criteria are: ability to explain the theory and to answer questions, use of graphics and text in powerpoint, achievement of all required components, demonstration of expertise on the theory and its relevance to child study

Paper:  30 points, graded by instructor.  Criteria are: thoughtful synthesis of theory studied, ability to make connections, clear and concise writing

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In-Depth Study (100 pts.)

Choose a topic which holds a personal interest for you and which relates to the content of this course. Any of the ideas which we have discussed in class or are covered in the textbooks are suitable for study. You can choose to do a research paper or a creative project. Both of these options will include a written component.  The research study will be a thoughtful analysis of a current issue.  The creative project will include designing and making a product. Some possible ideas for papers or projects are included below.

Topics must be approved before beginning this assignment. Submit your proposal form on WebCT.  I will reply to your proposal with feedback on WebCT. Please let me know if I can help in any way.

The research paper will have five parts:

  1. Introduction -- Include your inquiry question, why this topic is important to study, the topic’s relevance,  and background information on the topic.  (For instance, if you are studying the effects of video games on children’s development, it would be interesting to include how much money is spent on games each year.)
  2. Discussion of research -- Use at least 4 different resources in your research. What have other researchers, authors or practitioners said about this topic? Resources can include scholarly articles, mainstream articles, books, newspaper articles, interviews, etc. At least two of the sources must be from scholarly writings (not including the textbook.) Only one source of the four sources can be from a general information websiteWhile you may use Wikipedia for your own background knowledge, do not use Wikipedia as one of the four sources. Make sure that you reference your sources using the APA style.
  3. Conclusions -- Answer your inquiry question. Also discuss: what are your new understandings and insights into this subject? How can your new understandings be practically applied? What are your suggestions for how this subject can be addressed differently? What questions do you still have?
  4. Works cited page using APA format:
  5. Appendix of the research articles used – Submit hard copies of all your articles included in your research.  If articles are over 6 pages, then print up the first 3 pages.  If books are used in your research, copy the pages used and the title page; if over 6 pages, copy the title page with publisher information.

In-Depth Research Paper Grade

Discussion of Research
Work cited page
Paper organization, clarity and voice
20 points
50 points
10 points
5 points
5 points
10 points
100 points

The write-up for the creative project will have six parts:
  1. Introduction: Description of what your project is and why the project is important and relevant?
  2. Discussion of research -- Use at least 2 different resources to help frame the scope and methods of your project. What is already known about your topic? Resources can include scholarly articles, mainstream articles, books, newspaper articles, interviews, etc. At least one of the sources must be from scholarly writings. Make sure that you reference your sources in this section.  
  3. Summary of project – Describe what you did for your project and how you used your research to frame your project design. 
  4. Conclusions -- What are your new understandings and insights into this subject? How can your new understandings be practically applied? What are your suggestions for how this subject can be addressed differently? What questions do you still have?
  5. Works cited page using correct format: APA style.
  6. Appendix of the research articles used – Submit hard copies of all your articles included in your research.  If articles are over 6 pages, then print up the first 3 pages.  If books are used in your research, copy the pages used; if over 6 pages, copy the title page with publisher information.

    In-Depth Creative Project Grade

    Discussion of Research
    Project and summary
    Work cited page
    Paper organization, clarity and voice
    10 points
    25 points
    40 points
    10 points
    2.5 points
    2.5 points
    10 points

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Each student will present his/her study in a 10 minute sharing-out with the class. Be prepared to explain your study and to answer your classmates'questions. You will also need to prepare an abstract of your study to distribute to your classmates. There is only one class session set aside for presentations. If you are absent, there will be no other opportunity to present your research.

Presentation: (9 pts.)
Your presentation is a formal, low-stakes sharing of what you learned in your study.  Make sure that you include the following elements:

  • What your inquiry question is
  • Why is this a relevant and important topic to study
  • What you learned from your research – if there’s conflicting points of view, describe these
  • Your conclusions

You may create a poster and/or other visuals to supplement your presentation.

Your presentation will be worth 9 points and will be calculated by the feedback from your classmates using the rubric below.

Abstract:  (6 pts.)
Your abstract is a 1-page summary of what you wrote in your paper.  Bring copies for each student in the class.  Your abstract will be worth 6 points, evaluated by the instructor.

Make sure that your abstract includes the highlights from each section of your paper:

  • Introduction
  • Research
  • Conclusions
  • Resources

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Presentation Rubric

Your presentation poster grade will be based on the following rubric:





to the

* Topic’s relevance is clearly described
* Background information is fully explained
* Creativity present

* Topic’s relevance is partially described
* Background information is partially explained

* Vague explanation of the topic’s relevance
* Little backound information given

*  No introduction included


Discussion of the Research


* Findings fully explained
* Thoughtful analysis present
* Clear articulation of ideas
Originality present

* Findings partially explained
*Analysis is present, but lacks depth
* Adequate articulation of ideas.

* Findings poorly explained
* No analysis
* Weak articulation of ideas

* Findings not explained

Responses to Questions
rom Audience
* Responses show strong command of topic
* Responses adds new information and depth
* Responses show adequate command of topic
* Limited new information added
* Responses show little command of topic
* Responses lack clarity
* Difficulty in responding to questions

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Ideas for in-depth studies:

  • treatment of ADHD
  • single sex classes and schools
  • effects of divorce on children
  • transracial adoptions
  • art education in school
  • the Reggio Emilia approach
  • second language acquisition
  • participation in organized competitive sports
  • educating gifted children
  • strategies for teaching dyslexic children
  • high school dropouts
  • effects of advertisements on children
  • achievement tests used in California schools
  • effectiveness of charter schools

Ideas for creative projects:

  • compiling an annotated bibliography of children's literature
  • compiling an annotated list of children's computer software
  • conducting Piagetian conservation tasks with a variety of children
  • surveying high school students about their concerns
  • observing play patterns in a preschool setting
  • creating a slide show about the depiction of children in art
  • analyzing playground design
  • observing parent/child interactions
  • surveying how p.e. is taught in schools
  • surveying how art is taught in schools
  • surveying how character/moral education is taught in schools
  • observing a variety of classrooms to see how educational theories are applied
  • compiling a reference of health and safety resources for families

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