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Course Learning Outcomes

When you successfully complete this course, you will

  1. Acquire a base of knowledge of how family, peer, and media socialization affects the social development of children and adolescents
  2. Develop academic reading skills via frequent exposure to professional research articles
  3. Develop professional writing skills by working with me to produce a high-quality, brief review of research in a particular domain of social development and/or socialization research
  4. Develop the ability to translate empirical knowledge for a lay-audience by working with me to produce a high-quality lay-audience brochure/article
  5. Acquire in-depth knowledge on a topic that serves as the focus of your research and lay-audience papers
  6. Critically examine principles that are useful in caring for the children under your stewardship
  7. Critically evaluate central debates raging in child psychology (particularly regarding child socialization)

For more information about the learning outcomes for this course and others, please see the BYU Expected Learning Outcomes website.


SFL 210 (for all majors) and SFL 290 (for SFL majors) are necessary prerequisites to this course.

Course Materials

You will buy one textbook for this course: Shaffer, D. R. (2009). Social and personality development (6th Edition). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.

You will also buy (or rent, or otherwise watch) this DVD: Lost and Found: The Story of Romania's Forgotten Children, directed by Joshua Seftel. Documentary Educational Resources, 1991.

I have provided links to the additional articles and readings in each lesson.

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A Note about the Function of Writing in the Social Sciences

Similar to other fields of empirical inquiry, developmentalists depend on writing skill to (a) meaningfully summarize and evaluate current research and theory, (b) offer new insights or theories, and (c) inform public policy and cultural practices (by promoting standards underlying optimal child development). In short, effective writing is central to the ongoing progress of child development research and theory. Accordingly, this course is in part designed to help you learn to write better and consequently think better about the important issues of child development.

Learning to read and write in this field is crucial not only to your current academic success but also to whether or not you will benefit your family and others in the future. You must be an informed consumer of social science research, able to sort through a competitive marketplace of ideas. Conflicting and contradictory assertions of child development abound. You must be “fluent” in the language of the field to critically evaluate the arguments presented. Effective writing—summarizing and critically evaluating research and your own perspectives—is directly tied to your ability to understand the research you encounter. Furthermore, the effectiveness of your response to controversial theories and interpretations of research is largely dependent on your manner of expression. Writing is an exercise in that expression and evaluation process, an invaluable contributor to your efforts as a parent, family member, neighbor, bishop, home teacher, visiting teacher, etc., to meaningfully help others to deal with the complexities of child development.

Whether or not your major is specifically dedicated to child development (such as SFL and ECE), I would hope that you will emerge from this course thinking of yourself as a budding developmentalist, interested in the continued pursuit as well as application of knowledge which promises to improve the lives of children. Developing your writing skills is an essential part of this ongoing effort, especially for those of you who will go on to earn advanced degrees (for example, MS, MSW, PhD) in child development. The most influential researchers and theorists not only pursue provocative ideas but know how to express them effectively. You must learn to do the same if you intend to impact your family, others, or the field at large. Accordingly, this course will give you ample opportunity not only to read about the important issues in social development but also to write about them in a couple of formats. You will also note that a considerable amount of the class points are assigned to the various written assignments.


Reading Assignments

Reading assignments must be completed in conjunction with each lesson. Lessons are based on the assumption that you have read the assigned text and are ready to further elaborate on points given therein. These assignments will test your knowledge of what the readings have covered.

Lesson Assignments

For most lessons there will be an assignment which tests your knowledge of principles and concepts derived from the lesson or the accompanying readings (text or otherwise). Each of these 15 computer-graded assignments consists of 10 multiple-choice questions (.5 pts per question).

To help you prepare, I strongly recommend that you do not use your textbook and readings to answer these questions—consider them closed-book assignments. Remember that these include questions similar to those that will appear in each exam.

Research Paper

A two-page research paper (plus references and title page) will be required, based on a social development research topic of your choice. This paper is intentionally short: it will push you to develop a very succinct writing style as you summarize a fair amount of the relevant research in very little space.

You will first submit a finished draft. You will receive personalized feedback from me. I will not assign a grade for the paper at this time, but the rubric will show you how the paper stacks up across 5 different dimensions, on a scale of 1 to 10.

At that point, you will revise your work and submit the final version of your research paper. This is the version of your paper that I will grade and assign points for.

Lay-Audience Paper

As an extension of the research paper, you will also be required to essentially rewrite your paper for a different audience—the lay public—and experience the challenge of translating research findings into a format that is readily understood and applicable. More details are given in “Instructions for Research and Lay-Audience Papers.”

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There will be a midcourse exam and a final exam. I have provided a review sheet to guide your preparation for each exam. Be prepared for multiple-choice questions which will ask you to apply or identify concepts with real-life examples (these are the tougher type of multiple-choice questions, but certainly doable if you keep this mindset as you read). In addition, pay close attention to the lesson-assignment questions as you complete them, as similar questions will appear on each exam.

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Your cumulative grade will be based on a percentage of 396 possible points, which includes:

Lesson Assignments 15 at 5 points each 75 points
Midcourse Exam 100 points
Research Paper Research question: 10 points
Bibliography: 10 points
Finished Draft: 1 point
Final Draft: 50 points
71 points total
Lay Audience Paper 50 points
Final Exam 100 points

All exams and major assignments must be completed in order to earn better than a passing grade (C) in this course. In other words, I expect everyone to fully participate in every element of the class. In addition, you must pass the midcourse and final exams to earn credit for the course.

Grade Scale

Letter grades will be assigned on the basis of these percentages (I round final scores to the nearest percentage point):

A 93–100%
A– 90–92%
B+ 87–89%
B 83–86%
B– 80–82%
C+ 77–79%
C 73–76%
C– 70–72%
D+ 67–69%
D 63–66%
D– 60–62%
E 59%–0%

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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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University Policy - Title IX Statement

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 t9coordinator@byu.edu or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at https://titleix.byu.edu/report 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 http://titleix.byu.edu or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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