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26
Sep

Social Development in Childhood

Social Development in Childhood

The importance of play is introduced in Jean Piaget’s preoperational stage of development.  Piaget explains how, at this stage, children use symbols to express themselves with thinking and communication.  For example, “a picture of a chair represents a real chair, a child’s pretending to feed a doll stands for a parent’s feeding a baby, and so on” (Boyd & Bee, 2009).  These types of child interactions help the child understand the world around them.

As the child grows, play also becomes an important factor in the development of socialization skills.  For example, a preschooler that brings a toy to class learns the importance of sharing by allowing others to play with his/her toy also.  The use of play also aids in the improvement of communication skills with a child.  “For example, children this age adapt their speech or their play to the demands of a companion.  They play differently with older and younger playmates and talk differently to a younger child” (Boyd & Bee, 2009).  This example represents a higher level of cognitive functioning than Piaget gave children credit for.

According to Erickson (1950), early childhood development consists of a new sense of self found from engaging with the world around with initiative.  Through play and social interactions, children learn about activities that they can master without adult assistance.  These lessons aid to create a sense of self and purpose within the child’s personality.  “They begin to develop a self-concept, the set of attributes, abilities, attitudes, and values that an individual believes defines who he or she is.

A self-concept also influences emotional development in children.  If he/she experiences positive interactions that make up the definition of self, he/she will be more likely to face the world with a positive emotional skills.  Likewise, a negative self-concept can bring about a negative effect. Erickson’s theory finds that due to issues with their superego, children that receive excessive criticism from caregivers experience a large amount of guilt that deteriorates their self-concept.

Attachment also plays a role in this equation.  “In one study, 4-year-olds with a secure attachment to their mothers were more likely than their insecurely attached age mates to describe themselves in favorable terms at age 5-with statements that reflect agreeableness and positive affect” (Berk, 2012, p 365).  This relationship extends to include the impact of parent-child communication.  For example, if a parent continually tells a child that they are bad, they begin to identify themselves as such.  The same applies to personal defining likes/dislikes.  The child will learn to categorize activities that they enjoy by connecting the activity to a parents verbal communication when told he/she enjoys the park.  These elements lay the foundation for a sense of self-emerging within this age group.

A view within social learning theory finds that behavior is established through reinforcement and modeling (Berk, 2012, p 380). This theory is based upon the concept of operant conditioning- reinforcement of behavior through reward.  One such theorist in this school is thought is Albert Bandura.  He finds that “human functioning is a product of the interplay of intrapersonal influences, the behavior individuals engage in, and the environmental forces that impinge upon them” (Bandura, 2012). Bandura (2012) explains that the uncontrollable force of the environment influences behavior.  Yet, the reaction that is presented as a response is dependent upon the characteristics of the individual both in cognitive functioning and emotional response.

Social learning theory also explains learning and expression of gender identity. They explain that these elements of individuality are directly correlated to the effects of reinforcement and modeling.   For example, parents impose their viewpoint of what it is to be male or female through activities such as rough play with boys and more gentle activities with girls.  As a result, children take on the persona of their expected role.  Similarly, other areas of learning result from imitation of behaviors displayed within an environmental setting.

To contrast Erikson’s psychoanalytic theory to Bandura’s social learning, we can find that Erikson placed a larger emphasis on the impact of the individual with the outside world.  On the other hand, Bandura emphasizes the opposite.  Both note that the environment has a heavy influence on characteristics of the child.  However, Erikson believes that the resolution of internal conflicts produce positive attributes in children.  Whereas, Bandura outlines a complex interaction with the external environment through situational response and the underlying reinforcement that creates it.

References

Berk, L. E. (2012). Infants, children, and adolescents (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Boyd, D., & Bee, H. (2009). Lifespan Development (5th Ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Erikson, E.H. (1993) (1950). Childhood and Society. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company. p. 242. ISBN 978-0393310689.

26
Sep

Nature vs. Nurture

NATURE VS NURTURE

            Since the 17th century, when John Locke proclaimed that the mind of a child is a blank slate, the debate about whether nature or nurture has the strongest influence on development has raged. Some scientists argued adamantly that genetics were the sole source of what makes us who we are. Others insisted that influences from the environment in which we are raised contribute to traits. Today, most psychologists now look for ways to account for both influences in their practices.

Parents transmit genes to their children that we can see such as eye color, height, and facial characteristics. What we don’t see are the individual differences in personality that are a part of behavior genetics (Boyd & Bee, 2009). Behavior genetics are studied particularly in identical and fraternal twins due to the similarities in their genes. It is found that identical twins share a higher percentage of personality traits throughout their lifetime. This proves that genetics does have an impact and supports that argument that nature can influence development.

Although nature is important, nurture or the outside environment that people are subjected to throughout their lifetime impacts behavior as well. The way that children are raised and the situations that people encounter can determine how they will grow and develop. Different people can react to situations in different ways based upon their past experiences. These experiences also affect the way in which the outside world is interpreted.

A good example of environmental variances within a cultural context can be found by taking a look into multi-cultural adopted families. Due to the lack of available children to adopt in the United States, many families look to other countries to complete their family (Berk, 2012, p66). These children grow up speaking a different language, enjoy different activities, and express different personalities than their biological relatives from their origin because of how and where they are raised.

Psychologists have moved away from the either/or debate of nature versus nurture. Now they are considering both as influences in development (Berk, 2012). To explain why it is that identical twins can be a complete opposite, scientists now contribute the difference to the work of an interesting new concept known as epigenetics. “Epigenetics works to turn genes on and off in a way to change traits” (Miller, 2012). This explains why one twin can be a successful businessman, while the other may be an alcoholic. While their genetic makeup is the same and their environment shared, the manner in which their traits are expressed can differ.

I agree that development is not as simple as nature or nurture, but a complex combination of both. The expressed traits within biologically related family members, identical twins, and adopted families all provide plenty evidence that there are multiple factors blended together to create the individual traits in each of us.

 

References

Berk, L. (2012). Infants, children, and adolescents. Boston, MA: Pearson Educational, Inc.

Boyd, D., & Bee, H. (2009). Lifespan Development (5th Ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Miller, P. (2012). Twins data reshaping nature versus nurture. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2012/01/02/144583977/twins-data-reshaping-nature-versus-nurture-debate.

26
Sep

Research & Issue Requests

Your comments and concerns are important to us.  

If there’s a topic you’d like more information on or a

problem that need to be addressed, feel free to post it here.  

We look forward to the discovery of new information in the field of psychology and

would love to hear from you.  

 

 

Please use the comment section below and provide as much detail on your topic as possible.  

We will review your information and get back with you in a timely manner.

26
Sep

The Scholar-Practioner


The Scholar-Practioner Model in Integrative Education

The scholar-practitioner model consists of the application of knowledge learned in a professional field, along with consistently adding to that knowledge through further education and experience to remain up-to-date and relevant in a field of practice (Capella University, 2005). This model is essential to the field of higher education as concepts and information are always being updated as new information becomes available. Professionals in this field must continually grow their craft in order to apply the most accurate available information to their career.

The Integrative Studies program at Capella University has transformed not only my knowledge base, but the manner in which I approach information and/or situations as well. Much of this can be defined through epistemology. This term refers to “how we know what we know” (Plamer & Zajonc, 2010). For example, when approaching topics in studies or daily life, multiple angles are taken to process the information. This application of critical thinking involves the analysis of the acquisition of previous knowledge and combines it with the newly presented concepts. The results can be either a change in the former viewpoint or an addition to it. This creates a chance for what may have been defended or dismissed in the past to become more thought out and processed.

In my role in higher education, the practioner-scholar model is a part of daily life. It involves continual education within my specialization, networking through professional organizations to learn up-to-date information, and an open mindset as I approach the world in order to note additional subjects that require more research for my knowledge base. These components will not only aid in the growth of knowledge, but help me grow as a person as well.

 

References 

Capella University. (2005). Capella University’s scholar-practitioner educational philosophy. Minneapolis, MN: Author.

Palmer, P. J., & Zajonc, A. (2010). The heart of higher education: A call to renewal. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

 

26
Sep

How to Improve Others

How to Improve Others

According to the Decision Book (2012), there are many models that can be used in the decision-making process.  The model chosen for this discussion is The Role-Playing Model. The author presents ways in which your point of view can be intentionally changed. He explains that sometimes people are resistant to new points of view because it does not fit in with their present ideals. Through observational research it was found that nine profiles define the characteristics of people (Krogerus & Tschappeler, 2012, p. 143). They are:

Action-oriented: do-er, implementer, perfectionist.
Communication-oriented: coordinator, team player, trailblazer.
Knowledge-oriented: innovator, observer, specialist.

It is proposed that in order to change your viewpoint, you must change your thought process to that of the idea’s creator. In doing so, you are able to step outside of yourself and begin to understand and possibly accept new ideas or concepts.

When working with diverse populations and implementing integrative education, an open frame of mind and understanding are required. For example, in order to bring forth different perspectives on any given course room discussion instructors must be accepting of varying viewpoints and backgrounds in order to optimize the expansion of knowledge.

Reference

Krogerus, M. & Tschappeler, R. (2012). The Decision Book: 50 Models for Strategic Thinking. New York, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

26
Sep

Leadership & Integrative Learning

Theories of Leadership & Integrative Learning

The complex set of characteristics and adaptations needed to be a leader have been evaluated by psychologists and educational theorists since the 1930s (Williams, 2006). Through their research, certain traits that make up the components of a leader have been identified as social intelligence, behavioral flexibility, need for power, energy, cognitive complexity, and persuasiveness (Zaccaro, 2001). These traits contribute to the overall qualities needed to lead in an organizational setting. Leaders influence others in effective behavioral delegation to accomplish necessary task completion by others in order to reach a set goal.

Two factors have emerged that define the focus of leadership: being task focused and relationship focused (Williams, 2006). By valuing followers and demonstrating appreciation for their contributions to the task they are being led to complete, leaders create an atmosphere in which projects goals are obtained. These traits are emphasized again when observed in a school setting. According to Oyinlade (2003), effective leadership fits better in educational settings when the leader shows more people-oriented traits than a job-centered focus. The value placed upon the individual follower establishes a setting in which the follower achieves for the intrinsic motivation satisfied through appreciation and appraisal.

Behavior theories focus on “leader behaviors and differed dramatically from the trait approach—moving leadership conceptualization from what a leader is to what a leader does” (Williams, 2006). By observing the actions of a leader, researchers can identify specific behaviors needed to reach organizational goals. While behavioral models provide valuable information on the actions needed to lead, they deemphasize the importance of cognition and motivation.

In relation to integrative learning, leaders are needed to create the setting in which concepts and diversity are blended. They are at the head of the class presenting new knowledge while creating an open setting for insertion of situational experience and application from students. Looking back to the traits and motivational techniques required for such an experience, one can agree that this position takes cognitive complexity, behavioral flexibility and an appreciation for the opinions and experiences of student followers.

 

References

Oyinlade, A., Gellhaus, M., & Darboe, K. (2003). Essential behavioral qualities for effective leadership in schools for students who are visually impaired: A national study. Journal Of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 97(7), 389-402.

Williams, F., Ricciardi, D., & Blackbourn, R. (2006). Theories of Leadership. Encyclopedia of Educational Leadership and Administration. Vol. 2. 586-592. Sage Publications, Inc.

Zaccaro, S. J. (2001). Behavioral complexity theories of executive leadership: Empirical review and evaluation. In , The nature of executive leadership: A conceptual and empirical analysis of success (pp. 149-171). Washington, DC US: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/10398-005

 

26
Sep

Theoretical Framework for Practice

 

Establishing a Theoretical Framework for Practice

Angel Pumila

 

 

Theories of Adult Education

Within the field of education, there are many theories of adult learning.  Some find that behavior is the motivation for learning.  Others find that interactions with society or organization of thought processes contribute to the acquisition of knowledge.  Whatever the case may be, educators must understand the mechanisms of student learning in order to be effective in their teaching methods.

 Behaviorism

Scandura’s structural learning (SLT) is a behaviorism theory in which subject matter is broken down into smaller pieces. These pieces or rules are built upon to bring forth the higher-level concept. “SLT is generally known for its applicability to mathematics, but the ideas can be extended to other areas” (Scandura, 2001). For example in mathematics, addition and subtraction must be learned before advancing to algebra or geometry. In English, the rules of phonics need to be known before writing a research paper. Once the elements of any particular piece of knowledge were known, Scandura attempted to identify what a person knows and how it will impact behavior.

Scandura’s goal was to be able to predict behavior and knowledge through computer representation. Over a thirty year period, researchers were finally able to demonstrate their findings through directed graphs. While the graphs were able to accurately show knowledge in relation to behavioral outcomes, they could not display if the subject was an expert in the knowledge area. By 1994, Scandura had refined his method to include computer software that displayed a “relationship between data structure analysis and process analyses” (Scandura, 2007). To put it simply, when using an abstract process the data shown was more complex. On the other hand, complex processes produced simple data. This model was finally able to provide researchers with a view of the expertise level of the subject.

Cognitivism

Vygotsky’s cognitive theory pointed to two types of processes involved with learning; 1) within their zone of proximal development in which their abilities are matched to learning 2) immediately outside this zone, where with assistance more complex learning can evolve (English, 2006). An important element of this theory is that learning occurs when it is related to previously knowledge and all individuals learn in different ways.

Constructivism

Similar to cognivism, constructivism is the view of learning involving connections to previous knowledge or experiences.  This theory expands to add that perception of knowledge impacts the process of learning. According to theorists, active participation and relational meaning with learning concepts is essential in education structures. 

Strategies Drawn from Theories

            Finding a place for SLT in the integrative education model is easy given the definition of integrative learning. “Integrative learning comes in many varieties: connecting skills and knowledge from multiple sources and experiences; applying theory to practice in various settings; utilizing diverse and even contradictory points of view; and, understanding issues and positions contextually” (Huber & Hutchings, 2004). Just like SLT, integrative learning is a connection of information that is built upon previous smaller bits of information. Yet unlike integrative learning, Structural Learning Theory has the ability to view current knowledge through computer generated testing, find gaps in that knowledge, and suggest which gaps are in need of being filled. It is the ‘ah ha’ moment that we experience when learning in the integrative model.

            When applying this model to a developmental psychology class, course concepts are broken down into smaller sections presented over the span of the course.  Each section is then evaluated to find smaller components to present in individual lessons.  When combined, all parts belonging to the whole create the bigger picture of the course concept.   The cognitivism theory can be used in the classroom by the presentation of relative information for independent learning and more complex matter for group learning and instructor-based learning.  Let’s use an evaluation of case studies for example.  Most students have the ability to read a study and identify the cause and effect independently.  Yet when introducing new concepts such as statistical testing of null hypothesis, a hands on group project with step-by-step definitions and instructions from a teacher would be more effective than students learning on their own. 

Constructivism models could be applied to a similar example.  The difference would be that the study would have to be on a topic that is familiar to the students’ personal experiences as a whole.  Also, it would need to include learning concepts delivered through the interpretation of the study. 

Integrative Education

Integrative studies goes beyond the one size fits all model of education and expands to include experiences and knowledge that students can relate to and apply in areas that fit their individual needs. For my goals, this path merges educational theory with psychological knowledge in order to teach psychology at a college level. The combination of graduate level courses in both subject areas allows for greater understanding of processes and theories in both subject areas. Within this program, as with many universities today, courses are taught according to the integrative approach. Students share experiences and information, expand upon content and ideas, and provide multiple perspectives of the content being taught. This approach provides a better understanding of the concepts by taking them out of the textbooks and putting them into real situations that people can relate to.

As far as preferred classroom implementation, constructivism would be the best for active, long-term retention of learning.  When students can relate their personal experiences to what they are learning, it becomes more applicable to their life.  My personal experience with applying this theory to instruction is, however, limited.  In order to become more effective in the application of constructivism learning theory, more practice in the creation of lesson plans and course materials is needed. 

 

 

References 

English, F. (2006). Theories of Learning. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.library.capella.edu/ps/i.do?action=interpret&id=GALE%7CCX3469600354&v=2.1&u=minn04804&it=r&p=GVRL&sw=w&authCount=1.

Huber, M. & Hutchings, P. (2004). Integrative Learning: Mapping the Terrain. Retrieved from http://www.aacu.org/integrative_learning/pdfs/ILP_Statement.pdf.

Highered.com. (2013). Teacher Requirements. Retrieved from www.highered.com.

Scandura, J.M. (2001). Structural Learning Theory: Current status and new perspectives. Instructional Science, 29 (4-5), 311-336.

Scandura, J. M. (2007). Knowledge Representation in Structural Learning Theory and Relationships to Adaptive Learning and Tutoring Systems. Technology, Instruction, Cognition & Learning, 5(2), 169-271.

The Chronicle. (2013). Psychology Instructor. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/jobs/0000766177-01

26
Sep

Language Development

Language Development

Early language development is broken down into three theories; the behaviorist perspective, the nativist perspective and the interactionist perspective.

The Behaviorist Perspective
Created by B.F. Skinner in 1957, this perspective claims that language is acquired through reinforcement or operant conditioning (Berk, 2012, p232). 7As the child hears words and repeats them, behavior is positively reinforced creating the foundations of language development. What this theory fails to acknowledge is that children string together words to form sentences that they have not previously heard.

The Nativist Perspective
“Linguist Noam Chomsky (1957) proposed a nativist account that regards the young child’s amazing language skill as a uniquely human accomplishment, etched into the structure of the brain” (Berk, 2012, p232). This perspective claims that language skills are too complex to be learned, so they must be preprogramed with the skills needed to acquire language development. Scientists base these claims on studies of the Bronca’s and Wernicke’s areas of the brain. It has been found that damage to these areas causes impairments in word formation and/or comprehension. The problem with this theory is that a universal language and grammatical structure does not exist. How does it account for variances in languages across the world and knowledge of grammar within each language?

The Interactionist Perspective
The interactionist perspective combines elements from both theories to present a nature and nurture version of language development. They believe that language abilities are provided by the brain and formed through social interactions and experiences.

Social and Cultural Factors
Many social and cultural factors play a role in how and when language skills are acquired. These factors include parenting styles, gender, temperament, environment and culture. For example, girls generally grow at a faster pace than boys in this area (Berk, 2012, p240; Fenson et al., 1994). The environment that a child is raised in shows us that “the more words caregivers use, the more children learn” (Weizman & Snow, 2001). Meanwhile, the culture sets the stage for language styles, reflections and vocabulary (Berk, 2012, p241).

Promoting Language Acquisition
Promoting language skills within the family is of the most utmost importance. Parents and caregivers can encourage positive development by engaging their children in conversation, responding to words and sounds with encouragement and reading to their children often. These steps will lay the foundation needed for strong cognitive development and language skills.

References

Berk, L.E. (2012. Infants, children, and adolescents (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. ISBN: 9708025718160
Chomsky, N. (1957). Syntactic structures. The Hague: Mouton.
Fenson, L., Dale, P.S., Reznick, J.S., Bates, E., Thal, D.J., & Pethick, S.J. (1994). Variability in early communicative development. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59(5, Serial No. 242).
Weizman, Z.O., & Snow, C.E. (2001). Lexical output as related to children’s vocabulary acquisition: Effects of sophisticated exposure and support for meaning. Developmental Psychology, 37, 265-279.

26
Sep

Theories of a Child’s Selfhood & Emotional Development

Theories of a Child’s Selfhood & Emotional Development

According to Erickson (1950), early childhood development consists of a new sense of self found from engaging with the world with initiative. Through play and social interactions, children learn about activities that they can master without adult assistance. These lessons aid to create a sense of self and purpose within the child’s personality. “They begin to develop a self-concept, the set of attributes, abilities, attitudes, and values that an individual believes defines who he or she is.

A self-concept also influences emotional development in children. If he/she experiences positive interactions that make up the definition of self, he/she will be more likely to face the world with a positive emotional skills. Likewise, a negative self-concept can bring about a negative effect. Erickson’s theory finds that due to issues with their superego, children that receive excessive criticism from caregivers experience a large amount of guilt that deteriorates their self-concept.

Attachment also plays a role in this equation. “In one study, 4-year-olds with a secure attachment to their mothers were more likely than their insecurely attached agemates to describe themselves in favorable terms at age 5-with statements that reflect agreeableness and positive affect” (Berk, 2012, p 365). This relationship extends to include the impact of parent-child communication. For example, if a parent continually tells a child that they are bad, they begin to identify themselves as such. The same applies to personal defining likes/dislikes. The child will learn to categorize activities that they enjoy by connecting the activity to a parents verbal communication when told he/she enjoys the park. These elements lay the foundation for a sense of self emerging within this age group.

A view within social learning theory finds that behavior is established through reinforcement and modeling (Berk, 2012, p 380). This theory is based upon the concept of operant conditioning- reinforcement of behavior through reward. One such theorist in this school is thought is Albert Bandura. He finds that “human functioning is a product of the interplay of intrapersonal influences, the behavior individuals engage in, and the environmental forces that impinge upon them” (Bandura, 2012). Bandura (2012) explains that the uncontrollable force of the environment influences behavior. Yet, the reaction that is presented as a response is dependent upon the characteristics of the individual both in cognitive functioning and emotional response.

Social learning theory also explains learning and expression of gender identity. They explain that these elements of individuality are directly correlated to the effects of reinforcement and modeling. For example, parents impose their viewpoint about what it is to be male or female through activities such as rough play with boys and more gentle activities with girls. As a result, children take on the persona of their expected role. Similarly, other areas of learning result from imitation of behaviors displayed within an environmental setting (Heyes, 2012).

By contrasting Erikson’s psychoanalytic theory to Bandura’s social learning, we can find that Erikson placed a larger emphasis on the impact of the individual with the outside world. On the other hand, Bandura emphasizes the opposite. Both note that the environment has a heavy influence on characteristics of the child. However, Erikson believes that the resolution of internal conflicts produce positive attributes in children. Whereas, Bandura outlines a complex interaction with the external environment through situational response and the underlying reinforcement that creates it.

Reference

Bandura, A. (2012). On the functional properties of perceived self-efficacy revisited. Journal Of Management, 38(1), 9-44. doi:10.1177/0149206311410606
Berk, L. E. (2012). Infants, children, and adolescents (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Heyes, C. (2012). What’s social about social learning?. Journal Of Comparative Psychology, 126(2), 193-202. doi:10.1037/a0025180

26
Sep

Foundations of Temperament

Foundations of Temperament
“When we describe one person as cheerful and “upbeat,” another as active and energetic, and still others as calm, cautious, or prone to angry outbursts, we are referring to temperament- early-appearing, stable individual differences in reactivity and self-regulation” (Berk, 2012). Researchers Thomas and Chess (1977) have found that temperament can be broken down into four categories; the easy child, the difficult child, the slow-to-warm-up child, and the remained a mix of multiple categories. These descriptions represent the behavior that a child demonstrates on a daily basis when interacting with his/her environment.Temperament changes throughout the lifespan as children learn to control their emotions and behaviors in response to different stimuli. While this element of personality changes over time in response to environmental situations, it is also linked to a predisposition from genetic influences. Twin studies of both fraternal and identical twins show that identical twins more closely share similar temperament styles. Research on ethnic differences in temperament presents Caucasian-American children as more active and vocal than their Asian counterparts (Berk, 2012, p260). While these traits are passed down from generation to generation, the environment determines how and when they are expressed.

Environmental influences create the level of stability and security that a child bases their views of the world upon. For example, children that are deprived of human interaction and care demonstrate emotional and attachment issues. These problems can be corrected over time if given the proper caring and stable environment after the trauma.

Parental interactions also aid in the formation of temperament. A parent’s personal beliefs and expectations are projected onto the child and can influence the way the child behaves and reacts to the environment. For example, if a parent defines the child as being good, bad, social, quiet, or smart, the interactions with the child will reflect these opinions. Researchers have found that the effect of parental perception of temperament effects treatment and subsequently interactions and reactions, but may not reflect the actual stable level of temperament of the child (Majdandžić, van den Boom & Heesbeen, 2008). When the parent changes his/her belief of the child, the interactions also change which results in a different displayed temperament style. A clear example of this can be seen in parent/teen relationships. When the teenager gets in trouble and parents react as if the teen is trouble, odds are that the teen will continue this type of behavior. Yet if the same situation is reacted to in a manner that views this behavior as an isolated incident, chances improve that this incident will be more isolated in comparison.

In summary, children are equipped with the genetic foundation for particular temperament features. These features are directly influenced and/or reinforced by the interactions with the child and the environment. This environment helps to mold the individual differences in how children react to and interact with the world around them.

References
Berk, L. E. (2012). Infants, children, and adolescents (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Majdandžić, M., van den Boom, D. C., & Heesbeen, D. M. (2008). Peas in a pod: Biases in the measurement of sibling temperament?. Developmental Psychology, 44(5), 1354-1368. doi:10.1037/a0013064
25
Sep

Available Resources

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

 

Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline

Phone: 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453 )

 

Drug & Alcohol Treatment Hotline

800-662-HELP

 

Family Violence Prevention Center

1-800-313-1310

 

Help Finding a Therapist

1-800-THERAPIST (1-800-843-7274)

 

Learning Disabilities – (National Center For)

1-888-575-7373

 

National Sexual Assault Hotline

Phone: 800-656-HOPE (4673)

 

Youth Crisis Hotline

800-HIT-HOME

25
Sep

The Infant Brain

The Infant Brain

 “During infancy and toddlerhood, neural fibers and synapses increase at an astounding pace” (Berk, 2012; Huttenlocher, 2002; Moore & Persaud, 2008).  These components of the brain communicate and form bonds with neighboring structures through stimulation to create the basic skills the child will need in life.  Neurons that are not stimulated experience a process called synaptic pruning in which they are stored for future use (Berk, 2012, p165).

The environment plays a huge role in infant brain development.  Researchers have found that children raised in orphanages with little adult stimulation grow to have issues in all areas of development (Berk, 2012, p169).  These areas include lower test scores, stress management issues, and emotional, behavioral, and psychological problems.   Studies show that these deprived children show greater improvement in these areas when they are subject to the deprivation for shorter increments and then raised in a normal, caring environment (Beckett et al., 2006; O’Connor et al., 2000; Rutter et al., 1998, 2004, 2010).

Unlike the adult brain, the brain of infants and toddlers can easily reorganize itself after experiencing damage (Berk, 2012, p170).  Their brain plasticity allows for the functioning of areas to be designated to make up for the damage.  Although a slight time of initial delay may occur after the onset of damage, children have been found to remarkably catch up to children their age in their functioning skills when compared to adults.

As you can see, appropriate stimulation is vital to infant brain development.  Researchers have categorized this development as experience-expectant and experience-dependent brain growth. The first describes the foundation of growth from brain organization to learning through interactions with the environment (Berk, 2012, p172).  On the other hand, experience-dependent brain growth adds to brain development through specific experiences over our lifetime.

 

 

References

Beckett, C., Maughan, B., Rutter, M., Castile, J., Colvert, E., & Groothues, C. (2006). Do the effects of early severe deprivation on cognition persist into early adolescence? Findings from the English and Romanian adoptees study. Child Development, 77, 696-711.

Berk, L. E. (2012). Infants, children, and adolescents (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. ISBN: 9780205718160

Huttenlocher, P.R. (2002). Neural plasticity: The effects of environment on the development of the cerebral cortex. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Moore, K.L. & Persaud, T.V.N. (2008). Before we are born (7th ed). Philadelphia: Saunders.

O’Connor, T.G., Rutter, M., Beckett, C., Keaveney, L., Dreppner, J.M., & the English and Romanian Adoptees Study Team. (2003). Child-parent attachment following early institutional deprivation. Development and Psychopathology, 15, 19-38.

Rutter, M., & the English and Romanian Adoptees Study Team. (1998). Developmental catch-up, and deficit, following adoption after severe global early privation. Journal of Child Psychology and Psyciatry, 39, 465-476.

Rutter, M. O’Connor, T.G., and the English and Romanian Adoptees Study Team. (2004). Are there biological programming effects for psychological development? Findings from a study of Romanian adoptees. Developmental Psychology, 40, 81-94.

Rutter, M., Sonuga-Barke, E.J, Beckett, C., Castle, J., Kreppner, J., Kumsta, R., et al. (2010). Deprivation-specific psychological patterns: Effects of institutional deprivation. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 75(1, Serial No. 295).

 

25
Sep

Interview: Advice for the Teacher

Interview: Advice for the Teacher

Patricia Mezu is an associate collaborator in the Middle East with KDSL.  She has spent her career teaching others about the best and most effective practices in early childhood education both in and out of the classroom. In doing so, Patricia is aware of the wide variety of obstacles that teachers encounter on a daily basis.  These issues span from student childhood disorders and  curriculum adaptations to performance pressures from school management officials.

As more and more children are diagnosed with attention deficits, teachers must be prepared to meet the different needs of these children. Mezu says that there are numerous tools teachers can use to keep a child’s attention, including sustained eye contact when communicating, a gentle touch on the shoulder to gain attention, multifaceted planning (incorporating visual, audio and tactile learning techniques), short and focused learning activities, and activities that incorporate the use of gross motor skills, to name a few.

 Mezu recommends that teachers adapt the curriculum to suit the individual requirements of each child when working with a group of children who may be at different levels of comprehension. “Sustained observation and planning on an individual basis for each pupil are the best ways to meet the needs of a group of children,” she said. “Working with pupils in groups based on their abilities and having teaching tools and activities within the classroom that cater to different abilities ensure that pupils are able to be challenged when/if required.”

Teachers sometimes experience pressure from school officials with regard to student performance because of a lack of awareness of what the curriculum requires, Mezu explains. “In the Middle East, equating and imposing Western values in non-Western settings can also become a problem.” Her advice for teachers is “preparation, preparation, preparation. Remain in touch with best practices, stay teachable, have a forum that you can tap into to keep yourself on track and to air any problems, and link up with a good mentor.”

25
Sep

Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens are a classification of drugs that distort the perception of the world around the user. Hallucinogens are similar to other types of drug use in that they are recreationally used for their euphoric effects.  The difference though, is the rate of addiction is low or nonexistent in comparison to other forms of drugs.

Substances within this classification include “LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, MDMA, ketamine, DMT, PCP, and marijuana.  These hallucinogens are grouped into five categories. 

Indoles (LSD & psilocybin mushrooms): LSD was accidentally discovered by Dr. Albert Hoffman in 1938 as a result of extracting the drug from a fungus known as ergot.  Dr. Hoffman unintentionally touched the substance and began feeling a changed sense of perception of the world around, visual and auditory hallucinations, and a feeling of going crazy.  “LSD was considered as a therapy for mental illnesses and alcoholism and as a key to investigating thought processes” (Inaba & Cohen 2007).  It became popular in the 1960s as “acidheads” began experimenting with the drug.  LSD tolerance develops quickly causing more and more of the drug needed for the same experience.  Psychological withdrawal of LSD is more common than physical symptoms of withdrawal. 

Psychedelic (psilocybin) mushrooms have a similar chemical pattern as LSD.  Mushrooms tend to make a user nauseas before the drug’s effect takes place.  This drug has similar effects as LCD such as “changes in sight, hearing, taste, touch, and altered state of consciousness” (Inaba & Cohen, 2007), but without the panic and disassociation. 

Psychedelic (psilocybin) mushrooms have a similar chemical pattern as LSD.  Mushrooms tend to make a user nauseas before the drug’s effect takes place.  This drug has similar effects as LCD such as “changes in sight, hearing, taste, touch, and altered state of consciousness” (Inaba & Cohen, 2007), but without the panic and disassociation. 

Phenylalkylamines (peyote & MDMA): Peyote is derived from ingredients found in the peyote cactus.  This drug is legal for use by American Indians in religious ceremonies as decided by the Supremem Court in 1996.  Peyote “participants have hallucinatory visions of a deity or spiritual leader with whom they are able to converse for guidance and understanding” (Furst, 1996).  The effects of peyote last for up to 12 hours and create similar effects as LSD, but with the same nauseas effect of mushrooms. Abuse for this drug is limited since the main use is associated with religious ceremonies.

Anticholinergics (belladonna & datura): Belladonna comes from chemicals found in the leaves of the belladonna bush.  Effects of use include increased heartrate, hallucinations, difficulty focusing, and prolonged sleep. 

Miscellaneous Psychedelics (ketamine, PCP, saliva divinorum & dextromethorphan): PCP originated from a form of anesthetic that was never approved for human use.  It is ingested in various ways such as snorting, injecting, smoking, or swallowed.  Effects of this drug include a loss of pain, inhibitions, and separation from reality that lasts from 1-48 hours depending on the dosage.  Retrograde amnesia is common with PCP use as some users experience memory loss of some events during and prior to taking the drug.

Cannabinoids (marijuana): Marijuana use became popular in the United States at the end of World War I.  Effects of marijuana use include loss of pain, increased appetite, reduced muscle coordination, drowsiness, and problems with concentration.  Health consequences of using marijuana are damaged lungs and lowered immune system.  Users claim to experience no withdrawal effects with discontinued use. 

 Marijuana has had the highest level of controversy compared with other drugs. Political campaigns occasionally center part of their campaign on the issue of legalization.  This tends to cause a debate within public opinion as to whether or not make use legal in all states.  In a university study, attitudes about use “shifted from strongly negative to strongly positive as frequency of marijuana use increased” (Marino & Truss, 1973) within the university.  Others claim that marijuana is the gateway that leads to a variety of drug abuse.  Although debatable, some studies do show that marijuana use lowers the chances of using other drugs (Nirenberg, Cellucci, Liepman, Shift, & Sirota, 1996).

 

 

References

Furst, P.T. (1976). Hallucinogens and Culture.  Sand Franscisco: Chandler & Sharp Publishers, Inc.

Inaba, D. S., & Cohen, W. E. (2007). Uppers, downers, all arounders: Physical and mental effects of psychoactive drugs (6th ed.). Medford, OR: CNS Publications Inc.

Nirenberg, T.D., Cellucci, T., Liepman, M.R., Swift, R.M., & Sirota, A.D. (1996). Cannabis versus other illicit drug use among methadone maintenance paitents.  Psychology Of Addictive Behaviors, 10(4), 222-227. Doi:10.1037/0893-164X.10.4.222

Martino, E.R., & Truss, C.V. (1973).  Drug use and attitudes toward social and legal aspects of marijuana in a large metropolitan university.  Journal Of Counseling Psychology, 20(2), 120-126.

25
Sep

Ecological Theory

Ecological Theory

Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory of development describes development as a relationship between the environment and the person instead of two separate concepts.  This multi-level theory breaks down environmental influences on development as “the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, and macrosystem” (Crandell, Crandell, & Zander, 2009).  Each layer represents a variety of influences that shape each person’s developmental progression.

This ecological theory of development suggests that there’s not one single instance that effects our decisions in the path of life.  Instead, a complex relationship between different environments is the cause for behavior.  For example, a teenager chooses not to go to college.  This decision is not solely based upon their family’s educational history or academic struggles in previous school settings.  According to Bronfenbrenner, identifying behavior as being based upon simple factors, ignores the complex environmental interactions of school, peers, family, beliefs, religion, age, health, et cetera.  These complex patterns of behavior cannot be identified as happening at one point in time.  Instead, behavioral changes happen over time.  This is also referred to as the chronosystem.

To elaborate on the various levels of this theory, picture a circle with four layers surrounding the individual.  The microsystem is the layer directly outside of the individual.  It consists of relationships such as the family, school, peers, neighborhood, church, and health services.  These are the closest surrounding relationships that a person interacts with (Berk, 2000).  At this level, the impact of interactions work two ways, toward the individual and away from the individual. For example, peers can have an impact on thought patterns or behaviors of a child.  That same child can impact the thought patterns or behaviors of their peers.

The next layer, the mesosystem provides connections between elements of the microsystem and that of the exosystem.  For example, connections between a child’s family and educational system occur at this level.  It simply acts as a passageway to connect neighboring layers and comingle interactions between those layers.

Located outside of the mesosystem, the exosystem represents relationships that do not directly impact a person.  Bronfenbrenner listed the extended family, educational system, legal services, government agencies, mass media, and friends of family.  These categories have influence on a person’s life by interacting with components within the mesosystem (Beck, 2000).  Although the relationship here is passive, there is a “positive or negative force involved with the interaction with a person’s system” (Paquette, 2001).

The last element of the ecological theory is the macrosystem.  This layer is concerned with elements of a person’s society such as laws, cultural values, and customs (Berk, 2000).  Categories of the macrosystem have an effect on all parts of the theory.  An example of this would be “if it is the belief of the culture that parents should be soley responsible for raising their children, that culture is less likely to provide resources to help parents” (Paquette, 2001).

Given the multiple dynamics that create the features of each and every one of us, lifespan development can not be approached from a single system.  All aspects, relationships, biological components and experiences must be taken into account to ensure a healthy progression from birth into adulthood.

 

 

References

Berk, L.E. (2000). Child Development (5th ed.)  Boston: Ally and Bacon. 23-38

Crandell, T. L., Crandell, C. H., & Vander Zanden, J. W. (2009). Human development. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Paquette, D., (June, 2001).Bronfenbrenner’s Ecolological Systems Theory. Retrieved from http://pt3.nl.edu/paquetteryanwebquest.pdf

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