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Chapter 1

Chapter 1. Themes, Theories, and Methods

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Chandan Narayan

Chapter 1. Themes, Theories, and Methods Friday, October 08, 2010 5:38 PM Child development: a field of study that seeks to account for the gradual evolution of the childs cognitive, social, and other capacities first by describing changes in the childs observed behaviours and then by uncovering the processes and strategies that underlie these changes. Origins of behaviour (biological vs. environmental). Arnold Gesell believed that the course of development was largely predetermined by biological factors. He concentrated on maturation (a genetically determined process of growth that unfolds naturally over a period of time). Others like John B. Watson placed emphasis strictly on the environment. Pattern of developmental change (continuity vs. discontinuity). Continuity: development is a smooth and gradual accumulation of abilities. Discontinuity: development is like a series of discrete steps or stages in which behaviours get reorganized into a qualitatively new set of behaviours. Forces that affect developmental change (individual characteristics vs. contextual and culture characteristics). Many resolve the controversy by adopting an interactionist viewpoint, stressing the dual role of individual and contextual factors. Theories serve two main functions: They help organize and integrate existing information into coherent and interesting accounts of how children develop. They generate testable hypotheses or predictions about childrens behaviour. There are five general approaches in the field: 1) structural-organismic, 2) learning, 3) dynamic systems, 4) contextual, and 5) ethological and evolutionary views. 1) Structural-organismic perspective: theoretical approaches that describe psychological structures and processes that undergo qualitative or stage-like changes over the course of development. Psychodynamic theory: development proceeds in discrete stages, is determined largely by biologically based drives shaped by encounters with the environment and through the interaction of three components of personality - the id, ego, and superego. Id: instinctual drives; the first component of the personality to evolve, the id operates on the basis of the pleasure principle. Ego: the rational, controlling component of the personality, which tries to satisfy needs through appropriate, socially acceptable behaviours. Superego: the personality component that is the repository of the childs internalization of parental or societal values, morals, and roles. Freuds five stages: oral, anal, phallic, latency, genital. Psychosocial theory: Eriksons theory of development that sees children developing through a series of stages largely through accomplishing tasks that involve them in interaction with their social environment. Most influential stage is adolescence, where the child focuses on identity development and seeks to establish a clear and stable sense of self. Piagetian theory: a theory of cognitive development that sees the child as actively seeking new information and incorporating it into his knowledge base through the processes of assimilation and accommodation. The principle of organization reflects the view that human intellectual development is a biologically organized process. The principle of adaptation to describe the process by which intellectual change occurs as the human mind becomes increasingly adapted to the world. 2) Learning perspectives. Behaviourism: a school of psychology that holds that theories of behaviour must be based on direct observations of actual behaviour and not on speculations about such unobservable things as human motives. Classical conditioning: a type of learning in which individuals learn to respond to unfamiliar stimuli in the same way they are accustomed to respond to familiar stimuli if the two stimuli are repeatedly presented together. www.notesolution.com
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