Academic Catalog


Foothill College Course Outline of Record

Foothill College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Effective Term: Summer 2023
Units: 4
Hours: 4 lecture per week (48 total per quarter)
Advisory: One of the following: ENGL 1A or 1AH or ESLL 26 or equivalent.
Degree & Credit Status: Degree-Applicable Credit Course
Foothill GE: Area IV: Social & Behavioral Sciences
Transferable: CSU/UC
Grade Type: Letter Grade Only
Repeatability: Not Repeatable

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Identify the theories and processes of physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development of the individual from conception to adolescence.
  • Apply developmental psychological concepts, theories, and research findings as these relate to everyday life.


A survey of human development from conception through adolescence. Child development is a dynamic process and this course investigates the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional aspects of human development, from conception to adolescence. The course offers an investigation of brain development, cross-cultural considerations, family relations and many other factors that influence developmental outcomes and psychological well-being. An emphasis is placed on both historical and modern-day research and theories.

Course Objectives

The student will be able to:

  1. Describe and critically evaluate the classic and contemporary theories and research on child and adolescent development.
  2. Identify biological and environmental influences on child and adolescent development.
  3. Describe and evaluate the various research methods used to study human development.
  4. Compare and contrast the effects of cultural factors.
  5. Explain the sequences of physical, cognitive, social, and emotional changes across childhood and adolescence.
  6. Synthesize the historical, philosophical, and theoretical perspectives of development to the understanding of the self.
  7. Describe how principles from psychological research apply to real world problems and issues across development.

Course Content

  1. Theories of child development
    1. Psychoanalytic theories
    2. Behavioral and social learning theories
    3. Cognitive theories
    4. Biological and evolutionary theories
    5. Contextual and systems theories
  2. Scientific method
    1. Descriptive research methods
    2. Correlational research methods
    3. Experimental research methods
    4. Ethical concern in conducting research
  3. Heredity and the environment
    1. Genes and human reproduction
    2. Cell division
    3. Traits and genetic abnormalities
      1. Dominant-recessive traits
      2. Chromosome abnormalities
      3. Prenatal screening and genetic testing
    4. Genetic and environmental interactions
      1. Range of reaction
      2. Canalization
      3. Niche-picking
    5. Behavioral genetics
      1. Heritability
      2. Shared and non-shared environments
  4. Prenatal development and birth
    1. Conception
    2. Stages of birth
    3. Teratogens
      1. Different types of drugs (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine)
      2. Maternal health and age factors
      3. Different types of diseases (e.g., AIDS, rubella, syphilis)
    4. Process of birth
      1. Stages of birth
      2. Different options in giving birth
      3. Birthing complications
    5. At-risk infants
      1. Prematurity
    6. Becoming a family
      1. Transition to parenthood
      2. Sibling adjustment
  5. Physical development
    1. Infant reflexes
    2. Voluntary movements
    3. Nutrition and eating-related problems
    4. Development of the brain and nervous system
      1. Structure of the brain and nervous system
      2. Forming the brain and nervous system
      3. Role of experience in brain development
      4. Neural plasticity and sensitive periods
    5. Perceptual development
      1. Visual preferences
      2. Habituation-dishabituation
      3. Vision, auditory, smell, taste
      4. Intermodal perception
    6. Health and safety issues
      1. Childhood deaths and safety issues
      2. Child abuse and neglect
  6. Cognitive development: Piaget and Vygotsky
    1. Piaget and constructivism
    2. Piaget's cognitive stages of development
      1. Sensorimotor stage
      2. Preoperational stage
      3. Concrete-operational stage
      4. Formal-operational stage
    3. Evaluation of Piaget's theory
    4. Vygotsky's sociocultural view of cognitive development
      1. Importance of culture and social interaction
      2. Speech and language
      3. Zone of proximal development
      4. Scaffolding
      5. Guided participation
  7. Information-processing
    1. Processing capacity and efficiency
    2. Attention and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
    3. Memory development
      1. Working memory
      2. Long-term memory
    4. Developing knowledge and strategies
      1. Knowledge base
      2. Strategy development
    5. Metacognition and metamemory
    6. Theory of mind
    7. Autism and autistic spectrum disorders
  8. Intelligence and academic skills
    1. Theories of intelligence
      1. Psychometric approaches
      2. Sternberg's triarchic theory
      3. Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences
      4. Creativity
    2. Assessing intelligence
      1. History of intelligence testing
      2. Intelligence testing today
      3. Extremes of intelligence: mental retardation and giftedness
      4. Ethnic differences and cultural biases
    3. Developing academic skills
  9. Language development
    1. Characteristics of language
    2. Structure of language
    3. Theories of language development
      1. Learning theory
      2. Nativist theory
      3. Interaction theory
    4. Language acquisition
    5. Bilingualism
  10. Attachment, temperament, emotion
    1. Attachment
      1. Mary Ainsworth's strange situation
      2. Parent, child, and cultural factors in attachment
      3. Fathers, day care, and attachment
      4. Early attachment and long-term outcomes
    2. Temperament
      1. Types of temperament
    3. Emotion
      1. Emotional development
      2. Depression, suicide, resilient children
  11. Development of self and gender
    1. Development of the self
      1. Changes in self-representation across ages
      2. Adolescence and the search for identity
    2. Self-evaluations and self-regulation
    3. Gender development
      1. Physical changes of puberty
      2. Early and late maturation
      3. Development of sexual orientation
      4. Theories and issues in gender development
      5. Development of gender concepts and sex-typed behaviors
  12. Moral development
    1. Moral reasoning and emotions
      1. Kohlberg's stages of moral reasoning
      2. Guilt and empathy: role of emotions in moral development
    2. Moral development and aggression
      1. Aggressive behavior
      2. Bullying
      3. Conduct problems
      4. Juvenile delinquency and gangs
    3. Moral development and risky behaviors
      1. Substance use and abuse
      2. Adolescent drivers
      3. Adolescent sexual activity
      4. Teen pregnancy
    4. Positive youth development
      1. Prosocial reasoning and behavior
  13. Peer, play, and popularity
    1. Peer relations, friendships, and dating
      1. Social relations among infants and toddlers
      2. Friendships during preschool and childhood years
      3. Gender segregation among childhood friends
      4. Friends and peers in adolescence
      5. Transition to dating and romantic relationships
    2. Children's play
      1. Social levels of play
      2. Types of play from infancy through adolescence
      3. Cultural differences in play
    3. Popular and unpopular children
      1. Categories of popular and unpopular children
      2. A social cognition model of peer relations
      3. Consequences of peer rejection
  14. Family
    1. Parenting and discipline
    2. Mothers, fathers, and co-parenting
    3. Sibling relationships
    4. Grandparents and extended family
    5. Changing family structures
      1. Marital conflict and divorce
      2. Never-married households
      3. Single parents
      4. Stepfamilies
      5. Adoptive families
      6. Gay or lesbian families
    6. Child care
      1. Nonparental care and its effects
      2. Child care quality
      3. Self-care: latchkey children
  15. School, media, and culture
    1. Schools and development
      1. Early childhood education and kindergarten readiness
      2. Effective schooling
      3. Educating children with exceptional needs
    2. Children and the media
      1. What kinds of media are children using?
      2. Media effects
    3. Cultural contexts for development
      1. Individualism and collectivism
      2. Urban and rural poverty
      3. Immigration and acculturation

Lab Content

Not applicable.

Special Facilities and/or Equipment

When taught as an online distance learning section, students and faculty need ongoing and continuous Internet and email access.

Method(s) of Evaluation

Methods of Evaluation may include but are not limited to the following:

Exams (multiple choice and short answer/essay questions)
Problem-solving exercises
Observation of a child or adolescent
Writing assignment (e.g., integrating "real world observation" with specific theoretical perspective)
Individual/group presentations on a culminating research project within the discipline

Method(s) of Instruction

Methods of Instruction may include but are not limited to the following:

Class discussions
Active learning exercises
Field observations

Representative Text(s) and Other Materials

Charlesworth, Rosalind. Understanding Child Development, 10th ed.. 2017.

Berger, Kathleen Stassen. The Developing Person Through Childhood and Adolescence, 11th ed.. 2018.

Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing, and Outside of Class Assignments

  1. Required to choose a developmental topic of interest from class lectures or readings
  2. Writing assignment (e.g., integrating "real world observation" with specific theoretical perspective)