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In preparing this course, I have made assumptions about your current level of preparation. Since SFL 331 is an upper-division core class in the School of Family Life major at Brigham Young University, I expect that students taking this class will have already completed the lower division core. The lower division cores consists of an introductory survey course on child development, including basic knowledge of child development theories, principles and practices; an introductory course on family processes; an introductory social sciences research methods course that has covered issues related to research design and threats to validity and reliability; and an introductory statistics course that has covered materials on central tendencies, correlations, and simple tests of significance/group differences like t-tests and z-tests.

If you have not completed this lower-division core, does it mean you cannot enroll in the class? Not necessarily. Non-majors are welcome and encouraged to take this course. However, I do have expectations that students taking this class will already have a basic understanding of child development theory and concepts and a working knowledge of research methods and basic statistical principles. Most of this knowledge can be gained by a self-guided reading of an introductory child development textbook (Laura Berk’s introductory child development books are great resources and highly recommended). I also expect students to put forth a fair amount of effort to demonstrate that they are mastering the concepts covered in the learning materials. This will require a reasonable amount of your time to accomplish. In the campus course we typically spend 1–3 hours on each lesson with an additional 1–2 hours of personal study time outside of class. I suspect a similar amount of time will be required of you to take away all you can from this experience.

Course Outcomes

The primary objective of SFL 331 is to provide you with opportunities to increase your understanding of the needs and important variations in infants’ development during the first 2–3 years of life. You will have opportunities to develop skills for critical evaluation of research and theory in the area of infant development. While attention will be given to broad developmental themes pertaining to infant development (such as social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development), primary emphasis will be given to furthering your understanding of underlying developmental processes associated with the dramatic changes that occur during infancy with the family as an important backdrop.

Course outcomes include

  1. Gain a greater understanding of the significance of the infancy period.
  2. Become better acquainted with the theories, models, and principles used to explain infants’ dramatic changes and growth.
  3. Become acquainted with the unique methods used to study infants along with their strengths and limitations.
  4. Become familiar with and able to discuss current research in the field of infant development.
  5. Learn how to find and then critically evaluate infant development research.
  6. Learn how to promote optimal growth and development for infants by means of developmentally appropriate practices.

The course outcomes for this class closely mirror the course objectives. It is hoped that you will gain some of the following from this course.

  1. Critically examine the needs, development, and important variations in development during the first 2–3 years of life.
  2. Develop skills for critical evaluation of research and theory in the area of infant development.
  3. Understand the underlying developmental processes associated with dramatic changes that occur during infancy with the family as an important backdrop.
  4. Critically synthesize and write in depth on a specific area of interest related to infant development.

Course Materials

The textbook for this course is Gross, D. (2011). Infancy: Development from birth to age 3. Second Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

The textbook was written by Dana Gross, a well-regarded infant scholar. This is the second edition of her textbook. I have used several textbooks for this class over the years and this seems to be one that students resonate with well. The book is well organized and covers with both depth and breadth important topics related to infants’ growth and development.

List of Additional Readings

In addition to the textbook I will have you read a small set of research or issue oriented articles. Several are considered “landmark” or “pioneering” studies in the field of infancy—others capture current issues of importance.

If the links do not take you to the correct article, you can easily locate them yourself through BYU’s Harold B. Lee Library website, signing in with your NetID and password. Here’s how:

  1. Go to the Library website (
  2. Click enter the title of the article or keywords and click Search (the magnifying glass icon).
  3. Click the title of the article, and then click Available Online. (You may have several options.)
  4. Click the link for the full text of the article.

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The following are descriptions of each of the course requirements along with expectations and hints for successful completion.

Reflection Assignments

There are 7 sets of reflection assignments. The reflection assignments are designed to help you reflect on and critically evaluate the reading materials. They will also serve as a guide in preparing you for the midcourse and final exams.

Each reflection assignment will consist of 5 open-ended questions about issues raised in the readings. After completing the reading, you should spend some time reflecting on what you have read using the questions in the assignments as a guide. You will then provide a written response to each of the questions (typically a paragraph or two for each question). Each response should demonstrate a good grasp of the readings as well as your own insights and reactions to the readings. They should be well written and should thoroughly answer each question.

Hint: Keep in mind that some questions have multiple parts to them. Be sure to complete each part of the question in order to receive the maximum number of points.


In addition to the reflection assignments, there are 14 graded quizzes—one for each lesson—and one for the Research Paper Instructions that does not count on your grade, but you must pass it to submit your research paper.

Similar to the reflection assignments, the lesson quizzes are designed to encourage you to read the materials for the course, then check your mastery of those materials. Just so you are aware, questions for each of the examinations will be partially drawn from the quiz items.

The quizzes cover information from your readings. Each lesson quiz includes 15–20 multiple-choice items. All lesson quizzes will be open-notes and open-book but will be timed. You will have 20 minutes to complete each quiz, so you should study the lesson outcomes and reading materials and reflect on the main points discussed in the chapters/articles before taking the quiz.

Hint: The lesson materials for these readings will also help you prepare for successful completion of the quizzes. Be sure to review them carefully.

Research Paper

A culminating activity for this course will be the development of a narrowly focused research paper on a topic related specifically to development during infancy. The main objective for this assignment is to provide you an opportunity to critically evaluate and review empirical research related to development during the infancy period.

See the research-paper instructions after lesson 14 for more details, including the requirements and expectations for this assignment. I have also included a breakdown of the grading criteria that you may find instructive in preparing for this paper, as well as hints for successful completion.

The Family Sciences Subject Guide is your key to all the online resources available to you through BYU’s Harold B. Lee Library. Use it to locate the sources for your research paper.

Note: To encourage you to fully utilize the information in the instructions for the research paper, you will need to pass the Research Paper Instructions Quiz with 100% before you can submit your research paper. This is a precaution to make sure you have a good understanding of the paper requirements.

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There are two exams, a midcourse and final. Both exams cover materials from the textbook and articles as well as the lesson modules. The midcourse exam covers materials from lessons 1–7, and the final exam covers materials only from lessons 8–14.

Each exam includes 75 objective items (worth two points each) made up primarily of multiple-choice, true/false, and matching questions. Questions are derived largely from the reading assignments and quizzes. In addition, each exam will include three essays, asking you to respond to questions related to the material.

Hint: You are encouraged to prepare for the exam by completing each of the reflection assignments and quizzes prior to taking the exam and then reflecting on the items highlighted in the review section of the lessons.

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There is certainly no perfect way for assigning grades and that is why I favor an approach that includes a rather diverse range of assignments (writing, quizzes, exams, and papers) so that I may see your strengths across a broad spectrum of abilities. The points are somewhat arbitrary, but reflect to some degree the weight of the assignments in determining your final course grade. The following is the relative weight of each assignment.

7 Reflection Assignments 25% (approx. 3.5% each)
14 Quizzes 25% (approx. 2% each)
Research Paper 14%
Midcourse Exam 18%
Final Exam 18%

Grade Scale

I will use a traditional percentage breakdown with grades assigned on the following scale.

A 95–100%
A– 90–94%
B+ 87–89%
B 84–86%
B– 80–83%
C+ 77–79%
C 74–76%
C– 70–73%
D+ 67–69%
D 64–66%
D– 60–63%
E 59 and below

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Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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