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SPCL 7900 Theories of Human Development: ASSIGNMENTS & RUBRICS

Open Educational Resource (OER) created for Professor Elizalde-Utnick's SPCL 7900 course.




Instead of cumulative exams, there are weekly individual quizzes (i.e., RATs, aka Readiness Assurance Tests) designed to assess your completion and basic understanding of the assigned readings (and videos, podcasts, etc.). Each class session will begin with a 5-question quiz on Blackboard. Students have to begin the quiz at their class section’s designated time (3:40 or 6:30 pm), and they have 30 minutes to complete and submit it. The quiz only takes 15 minutes; but a double-time accommodation is built in and as a result you will have up to 30 minutes to complete the quiz. The lowest two RAT scores will be dropped; there are no make-ups for missed RATs.


The discussion board forums are student-centered and aimed at fostering student-to-student learning community via an asynchronous format. The discussion prompts are designed to foster a deeper processing of the course material timed right before the material is discussed synchronously via Zoom. From the second discussion board onward, students must write a discussion question based on the session’s assigned readings. The students should read the questions already posted, and they should not repeat a question asked by one of their classmates. The question posted should relate directly to an issue discussed in the reading and should require a thoughtful response. Students shouldn’t ask a question which can be answered by looking up the answer. Attitude, opinion, and application questions usually get thoughtful responses.

Participation in a student-led discussion consists of the following 4 steps:

1. Post your question. This must be done within the first few days of the module – do not wait till right before we meet synchronously on Zoom. This will be your thread – you will be the discussion leader. Your job is to facilitate this discussion and get as much information from the other participants as you can that relates to the question you have asked.

2. Read the questions posted by your classmates and respond to at least three of them. Choose the threads you think will be the most interesting and beneficial to you. You will be a participant in these threads.

3. respond to every student who responds to you. Do this in your own thread as well as the other threads you are participating in.

4. Continue participating in the threads until the module is over.

Note: If other students are not selecting your thread to participate in, perhaps it is because your question is too complex, confusing, or uninteresting. In this case, substitute another question.

Students should also reflect on the following discussion board rubric to enhance the quality of their posts.










of Post

Appropriate comments; thoughtful, reflective, and respectful of others’ postings

Appropriate comments and responds respectfully to others’ postings

Responds, but with minimum effort. (e.g. "I agree with Jean")



of Post

Posts topics related to discussion topic; prompts further   discussion of topic

Posts topics that are related to    discussion content

Posts topics which do not relate to the discussion content; makes short or irrelevant remarks




to the



Aware of needs of   community; attempts to motivate the group discussion; presents creative approaches to topic              

Attempts to direct the   discussion and to present relevant viewpoints for consideration by group; interacts freely

Does not make effort to participate in learning community as it develops


In response to the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, NASP called out for “Action to End Racism and Violence Against People of Color” ( NASP declared that school psychologists need to do the following:

  • Acknowledge the need for action and healing. …. we are disheartened by the loss of more Black lives at the hands of the police.
  • Acknowledge that these murders are grounded in our country’s 400+ year history of systemic racism, oppression, and over policing of Black individuals and persons of color.
  • Recognize that colleagues of color have been put in the unfair position of having to shoulder and take on the undue burden of work related to racism, inequities, bias, and bigotry and this can no longer continue.
  • Recognize direct traumatic stress that many of us experience daily and in response to the death of George Floyd and others.
  • Stand in solidarity with our Black community members, colleagues, friends, and neighbors, and pledge to do all in our power to call out, address, and dismantle the systemic inequities in our society that we may knowingly or unknowingly perpetuate as scholars, practitioners, and friends.
  • Acknowledge that we must confront our own internalized racism and implicit biases, and learn to think and act in ways that affirm and support our students, staff, faculty and community members identifying as Black, African American, Native-American, American Indian/Indigenous, Latinx, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander.
  • Acknowledge that we must confront explicit biases in preK-12 schools and university training programs, and learn to think and act in ways that affirm and support our students, staff, faculty and community members identifying as Black, African American, Latinx, Asian-American and Native-American, American Indian/Indigenous.
  • Promise to support and protect our children of color who are disproportionately targeted in our schools and communities.
  • Recognize that these incidents unfolded while the nation is still reeling from a health pandemic that further exemplifies the disparate health and economic impacts of COVID19 on communities of color; requiring us to address the long-standing racial inequities people of color experience on a daily basis.
  • Call out those within our profession who act in ways that are antithetical to the values we espouse in our declaration of understanding.
  • Join our voices to the statements issued by Sandra L. Shullman, PhD, the President of the American Psychological Association, naming this as a racism pandemic and “As always, APA stands against racism and hate in all its forms, and supports the efforts of researchers, law enforcement, clinicians, teachers and policymakers to eliminate hate crimes and police brutality," and NASP’s definition of social justice.
  • Recognize that social justice is both a process and a goal that requires action. “School psychologists work to ensure the protection of the educational rights, opportunities, and well-being of all children, especially those whose voices have been muted, identities obscured, or needs ignored. Social justice requires promoting non-discriminatory practices and the empowerment of families and communities. School psychologists enact social justice through culturally-responsive professional practice and advocacy to create schools, communities, and systems that ensure equity and fairness for all children and youth”, (Adopted by the NASP Board of Directors, April 2017).

Retrieved verbatim from:

To this end, this assignment requires that students, working in pairs, select an article (published 2010-2020, preferably in the last five years) that ties into an assigned session topic and addresses systemic oppression in some form (e.g., overrepresentation of students of color in special education) and anti-racist advocacy and practice.

Students will sign up (google form will be provided) for a class session and will select an article based on that session’s topics. Two weeks prior to the assigned session, students will email the article (pdf link) with three discussion questions to Prof. Elizalde-Utnick who will approve the article and then post it on the OER website for all of the students to read. The designated student pair will facilitate a discussion with the class during the assigned class session.


As a graduate psychology student, you are required to be familiar with American Psychological Association (APA) writing style.  You must also be familiar with the Brooklyn College Policy on Academic Integrity.  Below is a list of resources gathered to help you become familiar with both APA writing style and definitions/ways of avoiding academic dishonesty.  You will submit the APA and Plagiarism Assignment Completion Attestation with your responses regarding the APA (2020) webinar and 2020 updated Bramsfield’s (2014) Plagiarism tutorial listed below.

Complete the following tasks:


This Purdue University page is one of the most comprehensive websites for the APA style:  Purdue OWL also offers an APA Style learning resources here:


3. COMPLETE THE APA STYLE WEBINAR/TUTORIAL (, including the following sections:

  • Appropriate Level of Citation
  • Intext Citations (Basic Principles; Parenthetical vs. Narrative In-Text Citations; Appropriate Level of Citation; Plagiarism; Paraphrasing; Quotations; Secondary Sources; Classroom/Intranet Sources)
  • Quotations
  • Style & Grammar Guidance
  • References (Basic Principles; Works Included in a Reference List; Elements of Reference List Entries; Missing Reference Information; Reference Examples; Database Information in References; DOIs and URLs; Reference Lists vs. Bibliographies)

American Psychological Association.  (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).  Washington, DC: Author. Free access to APA guide resources during COVID pandemic:

Here is another tutorial:






ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS BASED ON THE 2020 updated BRAMSFELD (2014) TUTORIAL (posted on Blackboard and the OER Course Website) in conjunction with the 2020 APA PUBLICATION MANUAL WEBINAR

1. Name and discuss the three main forms of plagiarism

2. Find a sentence in your textbook and cite it as parenthetical in-text citation and as a narrative in-text citation.

3. How do you cite a source within the text and in the reference list that has:

  1. One author?
  2. Two authors?
  3. Between three to 20 authors?
  4. 21 or more authors?
  5. Discuss some issues connected to citing secondary sources.  How can someone unintentionally plagiarize when citing a secondary source?
  6. Quoting directly is only indicated under certain circumstances.  What are those circumstances?  How can someone unintentionally plagiarize when using direct quotes?
  7. Complete the paraphrasing exercise in slides 29-33 - write in your paraphrased sentence.
  8. Pay special attention to slides on paraphrasing (34-43).  Explain what you have learned.
  9. What are the questions you need to ask yourself as you are paraphrasing?
  10. What are the ways in which you can commit plagiarism while using and incorporating several sources?  How can you prevent it?


DUE: Friday, October 2
Make sure to attach the completed and signed Attestation forms to your paper.


Due to the COVID Pandemic, this assignment has been modified from its original form. Since you are unable to safely observe a preschooler in a classroom setting, you will observe a video clip of an observation:

The focus of the taped observation is one child but this child does interact with other children and with a teacher/teaching assistant. You will apply the following prompts (Davies & Troy, 2020, p. 341) to this video and write your paper accordingly.

A. Dramatic Play. Choose a group of children who are playing together. What are the themes and plots of the play? What roles do children choose or assign one another? Is the play gender-segregated or not? How do the children deal with disruptions of the play scenario caused by conflicts over whose fantasy will prevail? What reflections of the mass media do you see in the play?

B. Peer Relationships. Choose two or three children who are playing together, either in dramatic play, building play, or other activities. Can you discern elements of friendship in the way they relate to one another? How do they resolve conflicts that arise? To what extent are other children allowed to enter or excluded from the play activity?

C. Relationships with Adults.  How much do the children interact with their teachers versus other children? Do you see attachment-seeking behavior? Do you see different styles of relating to teachers – such as friendly interaction, clinging, or withdrawal?

D. Self-control. Observe for potentially stressful situations – conflict with another child, having to wait to get the teacher’s attention, and the like. What strategies for self-regulation do you observe? Do you see instances of aggression? What seems to have precipitated aggressive behavior? Do you see instances of prosocial behavior?

Write a report based on your observations.  The outline of your report should the follow directions for observation exercises, as follows:

1. Format

a. Short paragraph introducing the milieu in which observation took place. 

b. Four sections:  Dramatic Play; Peer Relationships; Relationships with Adults; and Self-Control (will also be the headers for the sections of your paper).  Each section will include report of your observations on a given area of preschoolers’ development and a short review of how the literature supports or does not support the phenomena you are observing. 

c. Each section should be about 1-1.5 pages long.  Each section will be supported by professional literature, including primary and secondary sources. 

d. Your paper should be no shorter than 4 and no longer than 6 pages (excluding auxiliary pages - title page, abstract, reference page, etc.)

e. A sample paper will be made available to you.

f. Your report must be written in APA Style, 7th Edition. Please attach grading rubric as the last page of your report.

g. Save your file with your name in it.  For example: SmithPreschoolObs.docx

DUE: Friday, October 30 - Deadline Extended to Friday, November 6

Make sure to attach the appropriate rubric to your paper. Late submission will be penalized with a two-point/day deduction. 


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 using Zoom (unless you live with the child). We will discuss this further in class. This is an individual assessment; they should not hear what another child answers.


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 the following questions of each child: “Why does the sun shine?” “Why is there snow?” “Why is grass green?” Write down the child’s responses to each question.

Then 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?”


Read the following Aesop’s fable: 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?”

Interpretation of Responses to the Story:

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.


1. When using Zoom, you will need the assistance of an adult living with the child. 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.

2. Ask the children to make a group of things that go together.

3. Ask the reason for such a grouping. 

Take screenshots or photos of the child’s response.

Interpretation of Classification 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.


With Zoom you will need the assistance of an adult living with the child.

1. a) Line up two sets of pennies (10) side by side, one set by the child, and one set by you.

b) Ask the children if both of you have the same amount.

c) Then spread out one set and ask which one has more.

d) Return them to their original position, and bunch up one set.

e) Then ask who has more.

2. a) Get 2 equal balls of playdoh.

b) Ask the children if you both have the same amount.

c) Make adjustments until they answer yes.

d) Make a snake or a pancake out of one ball and ask which has the most clay now.

Take screenshots or photos of the child’s response.

Interpretation of Conservation Task 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 Tasks – 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 need to critically reflect on the assessment experience. Did the results confirm Piaget’s theory? If yes, how? If not, why not? How does this assignment relate to the assessments you are conducting in your assessment class? Do the results reflect any cultural variables? Has Piagetian theory withstood the challenge of time and further development in cognitive development and the acquisition of knowledge? See rubric for further guidance. All students must submit a typed, double-spaced paper. This paper does not have to follow APA style. E-mailed submissions will not be accepted.  Make sure you attach a copy of the Piagetian Tasks Rubric.

DUE: Sunday, November 29


For this assignment, you will answer these questions yourself and then you will interview a person who is of another gender. Your paper will be a written narrative about you gender identity and that of your interviewee.

Each of the following question prompts needs to be integrated into your paper. The rubric that will be used to grade your paper is at the end of the syllabus and posted on the OER site.

Gender identity questions:

1. Growing up, did you think of yourself as a boy, a girl, neither or in some other way? How did you come to that recognition? When?

2. What messages did you receive from those around you about gender? Did those messages make sense to you? What did your family teach you about your gender (explicitly and/or implicitly)? Give examples.

3. What’s your first memory of gender defining or impacting your life?

4. How were students who did not fit into expectations about gender treated in school by other students? By the adults around them? By you?

5. Have you ever been confused by someone’s gender? How did that feel for you? Why do you think you felt the way you did?

6. Has anyone ever been confused by your gender, possibly referring to you in a manner not consistent with your own sense of gender? How did that feel for you? Why do you think you felt the way you did? If no one has ever confused your gender, imagine that someone did.  How would that feel for you and why?

7. Is there anyone in your immediate circle (family, close friends, colleagues) whose gender identity or expression is different than the norm? How would you characterize your comfort level about their gender?

8. If you were to describe your gender without talking about how you look or what you do, what would you share?

9. Is your gender a source of privilege or marginalization for you?  Or does it depend on your context on any given moment? How so?

10. How important is this identity to your sense of who you are?

11. Describe any events in your life where your thinking about gender roles/performance has shifted significantly.  What was the context for that story and how did this shift impact your life?

DUE: Sunday, December 6


Twice during the semester, at the midpoint and at the end, students assess their level of class participation using the following Class Participation Rubric. Students evaluate their own level of participation and award points out of 100 using the criteria described below. This will be completed using a google form; the link to the form is posted on Blackboard in the Assignments link.



Consistently raises or facilitates discussion with peers (in every class meeting). During the synchronous online class sessions, both audio and video technology are on. Engages in integrative and higher order thinking in relation to the readings (e.g., integrates two or more pieces of information in the readings, integrates experience with research discussion, poses hypotheticals for the group based on findings); questions findings or relates to other research. During asynchronous activities, consistently posts on discussion boards before the deadline; interacts at least twice with other students and/or instructor during every discussion board thread. The posts are of high quality, relevant, and contribute to the learning community.


Respectful attention to others’ contributions; periodically (at least every other class meeting) shares comments on at least one topic discussed in readings and demonstrates understanding and relevance to classroom discussion. Interacts at least once with other students and/or instructor in each discussion board thread.


Consistently present in class; attends and responds to others’ contributions at personal level of experience, but does not participate in classroom discussions


Consistently present in class; makes no contribution to discussion; unresponsive to or argumentative with others

Less than 45

Midterm Self Assessment DUE: Friday, October 23

Final Self-Assessment DUE: Tuesday, December 15



Each student will evaluate the contributions of all the other team members by completing a midterm peer evaluation using a google form link on Blackboard. 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.

DUE: Friday, October 23

Peer Feedback on Team Behavior and Accountability




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 between your teammates (not including you) 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?
  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.

Students will submit their final peer evaluation via a google form link on Blackboard.

DUE: Tuesday, December 15