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Psychology Dept | Library | Other SPCL OER

SPCL 7804 Human Development: Assignments

Open Educational Resource (OER) created for Professor Elizalde-Utnick's SPCL 7804 course.

Annotated Bibliography

Students will prepare an annotated bibliography on a chosen developmental disability. Students will use the PsycArticles database and Google Scholar to conduct a search for articles on their topic and create an annotated bibliography of at least 5 journal articles published from 2010 to 2017 that relate to how development occurs in the disability they have chosen. Students will also write a short essay (2-3 pages, typed and double-spaced) that integrates their findings and summarizes how development unfolds in the disability chosen, including but not limited to cognitive development, social-emotional development, and attachment. Submitted papers must include the first page of all the articles in their PDF version. It includes the title, author and abstract. References and citations should follow APA format. (The following CACREP standards are being assessed in this assignment: Human Growth and Development.)
An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150-250 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.
Abstracts are the purely descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes. Annotations are descriptive and critical; they expose the author's point of view, clarity and appropriateness of expression, and authority.
Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of intellectual skills: concise exposition, succinct analysis, and informed library research. First, locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic. Briefly examine and review the actual items. Then choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.
Cite the book, article, or document using APA style. Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that (a) evaluate the authority or background of the author, (b) comment on the intended audience, (c) compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or (d) explain how this work illuminates your bibliography topic.
Make sure to attach the appropriate rubric form to your paper. Late submission will be penalized with a five-point/week deduction.

Final Project: My Personal Development

This project is a culminating activity for the course.  The purpose of this exercise is to ask you to consider your development and life history.  How would you describe your early years?  How have the theories studied helped you understand your own development?  Where are you are now in your life?  How does your family and cultural history relate to these issues?  This project entails integrating the readings and class discussions as well as undergoing a process of critical self-reflection. Review the rubric form for further elaboration on scoring criteria.  The typed, double-spaced paper should consist of the following sections:

Final Project: My Personal Development 

  1. Developmental History
    • Prenatal Development
    • Early Childhood (Prenatal-Birth-Infancy-Toddler and Preschool Years)
    • Middle Childhood & Adolescence
    • Young adulthood to present
    • Discussion: How these factors/events influenced my life?
  2. Contexts, culture, and environment
    • Time line of important life events
    • Family history and description (Characteristics and important events; Description of family interactions and communication patterns)
    • Ethnic and cultural background
    • Gender and sexual identity
    • Discussion: How these factors/events influenced my life?
  3. Great debates: Discuss how your own development influences your view and understanding of:
    • Nature vs. Nurture
    • Discontinuity vs. Continuity
    • Neuroplasticity and Critical/Sensitive Periods 
    • Universality vs. Cultural Relativism
  4. Conclusions: Share your final thoughts/insights regarding this assignment and the class in general.  How did this course influence your view/knowledge about your own development? How has learning about your own development influenced your development as a counselor? How has this course influenced your views/approach towards individual differences, diversity issues, special concerns, or special populations?  What theories of development appeal to you? What type of professional curriculum for further learning do you see for yourself in the future?


Make sure to attach the appropriate rubric form to your paper. Late submission will be penalized with a five-point/day deduction. Note: In the Course Outline there are self-reflection prompts. These serve to facilitate the process of reflecting on the course material and integrating it for this paper.

Midterm Peer Evaluation (non-graded)

Each individual will evaluate the contributions of all the other team members by completing the quantitative and qualitative portions of the midterm peer evaluation form located at the end of the syllabus (form also available here). This form will be collected on the day of the midterm exam. The results will be disseminated anonymously to all team members by Prof. Elizalde-Utnick. The purpose of this evaluation is to give feedback to each team member to maximize team accountability.


Final Peer Evaluation (graded)

At the end of the term, it is necessary for all members of this class to assess the contributions that each member of the team made to the work of the team.  You will divide 100 points amongst your teammates based on the contributions they made to the team throughout the semester. This contribution should presumably reflect your judgment of such things as: 1) Preparation (Were they prepared when they came to class?); 2) Contribution (Did they contribute productively to group discussion and work?); 3) Respect of others' ideas (Did they encourage others to contribute their ideas?); and 4) Flexibility (Were they flexible when disagreements occurred?). It is important that you raise the evaluation of people who truly worked hard for the good of the group and lower the evaluation of those you perceived not to be working as hard on group tasks. See Final Peer Evaluation Form.


Extra-Credit Assignment: Piagetian Tasks Project

Students will explore Piagetian principles through the assessment and observation of three children.

Procedure: Select a 4-year-old child, an 8- to 9-year-old child, and an adolescent (age 12+). Perform the following tasks on an individual basis. 

Interpretation of Responses:  Egocentrism, the inability of the preoperational child to take another’s point of view, is often illustrated by a 4-year-old’s answers to these questions.  The concrete and formal operational child would be able to give factual responses (at least concrete responses).

Ask each of the three children the following questions:

  • “Why does the sun shine?”
  • “Why is there snow?”
  • “Why is grass green?”

Write down the child’s responses to each question. Ask the following questions only with the 4-year-old, in order to further assess the young child’s inability to take another’s perspective. Have the child close his/her eyes. Then ask:

“Can I still see you now?”

The inability to reverse information may be evident: Ask,

“How many brothers and sisters do you have?”

If child has a sibling, ask, “Does ______ (fill in sibling’s name) have a brother/sister?”

Follow up by asking, “How many children do your parents have?”

Write down the child’s responses to each question.



Read the following Aesop’s fable to each child:

The Milk-Woman and Her Pail:

The farmer’s daughter was carrying her pail of milk on top of her head from the field to the farmhouse, when she started day-dreaming. She said to herself, “The money for which this milk will be sold will buy at least 300 eggs.  The eggs will produce about 250 chickens.  The chickens will be sold for even more money, so that by the end of the year I shall have enough money to buy a new gown.  In this dress I will go to many parties, where all the young men will want to marry me.  But I will toss my head and refuse every one of them.”  At that moment, as she tossed her head back, down fell the milk pail to the ground.

Ask, “What do you think this story means?”

Write down what the child says.

Interpretation of Responses:

  • Preoperational response: Response is often on an emotional, personal level, and based on the child’s affective reaction to the story.  They are apt to mention something that happened in their own life.  They may not be interested in explaining or justifying the answer.
  • Concrete operational response: Response is based on the literal content of the story.
  • Formal operational response: Response goes beyond the literal content of the story and indicates some understanding of the moral.


Analyze response(s) using these interpretive guidelines. For example, one would expect the preoperational child (e.g., 4-year-old) to give a preoperational response, the concrete operational child (e.g., 8/9-year-old) to give a concrete operational response, and the formal operational child (e.g., 12-year-old) to give a formal operational response. That is not always the case. The same goes for the other age groups.



  • Give the children the following group of objects: picture from a magazine; pencil; magic marker; piece of chalk; notebook paper; drawing paper; thumb tack; straight pin; masking or scotch tape; paper bag.
  • Ask the child to make a group of things that go together. The child can make different types of groups.
  • Ask the reason for such a grouping (e.g., “why did you put those things together that way?).
  • Write down the objects that the child groups and the reason for the grouping.
  • Analyze the group made using the interpretive guidelines below.

Interpretation of Responses:

  • Early preoperational: Grouping is based on a functional relationship.  Example: Pencil and paper because you write on the paper with a pencil; thumb tack and picture because you use the tack to put the picture on the wall.
  • Late preoperational: Grouping is based on perceptual feature.  Example: Pencil, pin, and tack because they all have a sharp point; paper and picture because they have the same shape (have four corners); paper and chalk because they are both white.
  • Concrete operational: Grouping is based on a common element so that each object is an example of the classification basis.  Example: Things made of paper, things you write with, things you can use to put things on a bulletin board.

There is no “formal operational” level response with classification, since classification is a concrete operational task. 


TASK 4: Conservation
A - Line up two sets of pennies (10) side by side, one set by the child, and one set by you.

  • Ask the children if both of you have the same amount.
  • Then spread out one set and ask which one has more.
  • Record response.
  • Return them to their original position, and bunch up one set.
  • Then ask who has more.
  • Record response.

B - Get 2 equal balls of playdoh.

  • Ask the children if you both have the same amount.
  • Record response.
  • Make adjustments until they answer yes.
  • Make a snake or a pancake out of one ball and ask which has the most clay now.
  • Record response.

Analyze responses using these interpretive guidelines:

Interpretation of Responses:

  • Preoperational: Response will indicate that one person has more than the other when changes are made.
  • Concrete operational: Responds that you both have the same amount and explains the answer by using identity, reversibility, or compensation as a rationale.
  • There is no “formal operational” level response with conservation, since conservation is a concrete operational task.


Piagetian Task – Written Assignment:

Write up your results with the guidelines provided above.  Write up the children’s actual responses to the questions as well as your behavioral observations.  Organize your paper according to the sections outlined above.  For example, when discussing the results of the first task, compare the responses across the three age groups.  After you have gone through each of the tasks separately, briefly look at each child’s performance across all the tasks, looking for consistency or discrepancies according to Piagetian theory. For example, did the children respond predictably according to their age group as per theory? You are also to critically reflect on the assessment experience. See rubric for further guidance. All students must submit a typed, double-spaced paper.  E-mailed submissions will not be accepted.  Make sure you attach a copy of the Piagetian Tasks Rubric.