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Course Information

Instructor Info:Melissa Burch
Office Extension x5465
Russell Cavallaro
Term: 2012F
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
09:00 AM - 10:20 AM Adele Simmons Hall (ASH) 111
09:00 AM - 10:20 AM Adele Simmons Hall (ASH) 111

In this course we will discuss the processes by which children come to acquire, recall, and use knowledge. This course will focus on development from infancy to middle childhood. By reading primary literature, we will examine the emergence and refinement of children's ability to form concepts, recall the past, and extend knowledge to new situations. We will consider methodological challenges and approaches to studying children's abilities, including naturalistic observations, and controlled laboratory studies. We will review literature on findings and theories of development in each area and discuss how changes in children's representational abilities contribute to these abilities. Students will make class presentations based on research articles, write short papers in response to class topics, and develop a research proposal on a topic of interest discussed in the course.

Course Objectives:

 Students will:

1)    be exposed to the main issues and theoretical positions in cognitive development

2)    be able to trace development from the building blocks of cognitive skills to their more advanced forms

3)    summarize research articles and critique and evaluate research design,

4)    develop quantitative reasoning skills and gain familiarity with statistics,

5)    conduct at least one observation of children's behavior, and

6)    understand the research process and challenges to studying development.

Evaluation Criteria:

To receive an evaluation in this course, students are required to:

1) Attend and participate in class regularly. If a student has more than 4 unexcused absences, s/he will not receive an evaluation.

2) Complete readings and prepare for class discussion.

3) Conduct at least one observation at the Early Learning Center for one of the units of the course. Individual students will observe a single age group of children (i.e., infants, toddlers, preschoolers) and will share the results of their observations with the rest of the class.

4) Complete writing and graph interpretation assignments demonstrating progress in quantitative skills.

5) Submit all writing assignments in a timely manner. Writing assignments will include a series of brief responses to readings and class discussions, and a research proposal submitted at the end of the semester.

Additional Info:


Written work is due in class and it essential to active participation in the course and so that I can provide timely feedback. However, if a medical or personal emergency arises, please contact me as soon as possible so that we can make arrangements. I will not evaluate late work. All assignments must be completed and included in the final portfolio.


Policy Regarding Illness:

Please email me if you will be missing class. If you miss class due to illness, you will be given extra time to make up assignments ­ this time is to be negotiated directly with me, as people will be out for varying times and have different demands on them from other courses and work obligations. The idea is to get caught up as quickly as possible, without accruing incompletes.


An “incomplete” will be granted at the discretion of the instructor only under the most unusual and incapacitating circumstances.  If you miss more than two classes, or feel that you are in danger of not completing the course for any reason, please come see me as soon as possible.  Any student seeking an incomplete must (1) request the “incomplete” in writing prior to the last week of class, (2) provide appropriate written documentation of the illness or circumstances, and (3) make specific arrangements with the instructor to complete the required coursework.  Students will have one semester to complete any missed exams/assignments to replace the incomplete with an evaluation.  Failure to complete the required work within this time frame will result in a “no evaluation.”

Special Needs

I am aware that all students have learning strengths and weaknesses. I encourage students with disabilities or special needs to discuss with me whatever arrangements may be needed to facilitate their work in the course.  I am available to work with you and the resources on campus, academic support services and/or the disabilities office, to address your needs. Students with special needs should contact me during the first week of class to discuss any special arrangements.  Proper documentation must be in place with CASA.