PSYC 328: Current Research in Early Childhood

Early childhood is widely seen as a time when the environment exerts particularly strong influences on individuals, with large effects on children's risk or resilience for healthy developmental outcomes. Research in this area provides a way to consider and evaluate claims about this developmental period. What knowledge does society need about this period to promote healthy development for all children? Where do children learn social skills? Why do children play with some toys but not others? How does timing affect the impact of early interventions? What foundational skills help all children learn to read? By what mechanisms does economic poverty affect development?
This advanced seminar will explore current research in early childhood. We will focus on the period from birth to five years, drawing on empirical work in developmental psychology, cognitive science, and education to discuss major topics and debates. These include cognitive and academic foundations for later schooling; emotional development and social skills; social identity and sense of self; self-regulation and executive functions; play; adverse factors in development; risk, resilience, and vulnerability; culture, socioeconomic status, and poverty; developmental neuroscience; early childhood education; and public policy. Guest visits by experts in some of the areas will complement our readings and discussions.