About This Module: The Field of Child Psychology

Introduction

To get things started in this course, you will start first by orienting yourself with the science of developmental psychology. Believe it or not, the scientific analysis of children is a fairly young field, though despite its youth, is a vibrant and diverse field. Though philosophers, poets, and artists have speculated for centuries about the very nature of children, it was not until the birth of the field of psychology in the 20 th century that scientists began to objectively and systematically measure and assess the behavior of children.

Child development as a field is encompasses many academic disciplines and perspectives. Thus, there are many scientific angles that you will consider as you read through Chapter 1 (and the whole course!). The topic is approached and investigated by many disciplines; including psychology, medicine, sociology, and health, just to name a few. As you might guess, a variety of research methods are also used to study children’s development. It is just as important to understand these research methods and theoretical perspectives as it is to know about the people who have contributed to and shaped the field of child psychology. So, your goal in this module is to become familiar with those scientists whose work shaped the field from its beginning, as well as to learn the main methods of research that child psychologists use to observe and assess children’s development.

Just as this field is broad and diverse, so are the backgrounds that you — the students in this course — bring to the table. For example, it can almost be guaranteed that each person in this course has had a different background and upbringing — whether that be the type of parenting you received, the type of school you attended, the health issues you might have faced, your mother’s health during her pregnancy with you, your genetics, or, simply, your basic inborn personality characteristics.

Some of you may have had little or no formal education around human development and psychology. One goal, then, for this first module is to orient you to the history of the field so everyone starts out on similar footing as we gradually move through the course content. Hopefully, by the end of this module, you will have a better understanding of how and why a course like this even exists and how much more there is to learn about human nature and the important milestones of children’s development. (1)

Learning Outcomes

1.   Students will be able to describe the field of child and adolescent psychology, including the main theories, research methods, and principles of development. (1)

Objectives

Upon completion of this module,the student will be able to:

  • Explain the main principles and concepts in the field of child and adolescent psychology.
  • Differentiate the research methodologies used in child development.
  • Evaluate the developmental theories. (1)

Readings

Online Learning Unit

Greetings and Introductions

Use this forum to introduce yourself to the professor and the class. Tell us a little about yourself, including some of the things you expect to get out of this course.(1)