First-Year Studies: The Developing Child: Perspectives from Experience, Observation, and Theory

This is a course from a previous year. View the current courses

In this course, we will explore how children develop by considering the perspectives on the process afforded by the experience of one’s own life, careful observation of children in natural settings, and readings in developmental psychology. The course is built around in-depth field work at the Early Childhood Center, our campus laboratory school, where students will spend eight hours a week as participant observers, facilitating the children’s school experience as part of the teaching team, and learning to observe their language and thought, play, social interaction, and evolving personalities. Developmental and educational theories will be used as lenses for understanding the children, taking into account the immediate context of the school and the broader cultural contexts in which development is occurring. Readings for the seminar will be drawn from theoretical and research sources and literary and memoir accounts of childhood. Seminar writing assignments will include observation, reflection, and analysis and application of theory. First-semester conference work will explore students’ individual interests and culminate in a carefully developed proposal for a project to be carried out for the rest of the year. Often such projects will center on qualitative research projects or case studies carried out in the field setting; and while always including a research/theory written component, they may also include a creative dimension.