Critical thinking about development
The following exercise is a way to see if students are able to apply critical thinking to some of the big ideas that they have been studying in developmental psychology. This will test their understanding of theories and research relevant to the following learning objectives:
- Evaluate psychological research (that is, theories and/or studies) relevant to developmental psychology
- Discuss how social and environmental variables (for example, parenting, educational environment, poverty, diet) may affect cognitive development.
- Examine attachment in childhood and its role in the subsequent formation of relationships.
- Discuss potential effects of deprivation in childhood on later development.
In order to carry out the task below, they should be familiar with some of the following studies and theories.
|Pollitt (1995)||Ainsworth's attachment styles|
|Bhoomika et al (2008)||Harlow's early studies on primates|
|Main Effect Theory||Bowlby's Internal Working model|
|Hazan & Shaver (1987)|
|Fonagy et al (1991)|
Knowledge of theories and studies is not enough. They also have to be able to demonstrate analysis, evaluation and synthesis of ideas in order to do well on their exams.
Each of the following statements could be used as a topic sentence - that is, the first sentence of a paragraph - in order to demonstrate critical thinking relevant to the question. Working together with a partner or in a small group, students should write the rest of the paragraph.
I have my students write them in a Google Doc and share it with the class. Then I have another group edit and expand on the first group's work. If it is in a Google Doc, I can also project it for the whole class while they look at it on their screens. I can give tips and make connections which they have missed. The topic sentences I have them develop are below. Following each topic sentence, I have some suggestions of what I would think that students would write.
TS1: Children in poverty are exposed to more risk factors than protective factors.
TS2: In general, there are several problems with carrying out research on the effect of poverty on cognitive development.
TS3: Although Ainsworth’s Strange Situation test is the basis for defining attachment styles, the test itself has strengths and limitations.
TS4: Rutter challenged Bowlby’s study of juvenile delinquents; however, in addition to the different results he found, there were many similarities in the two studies.
TS5: Fonagy’s findings of the effect of childhood attachment style on later relationships is stronger than either Hazan & Shaver’s or Simpson’s studies.