Course Exam—PSYC 228

PSYC 228 (Introduction to Human Development) is a three-credit introductory psychology course that has students studying the basic concepts and mechanisms inherent in the process of human development from birth to old age, with an emphasis on the physical, cognitive, and socioemotional changes associated with each life stage. PSYC 228 has two precluded courses, which includes PSYC 257 and PSYC 323. This means that PSYC 228 may not be taken for credit by students if credit has already been obtained for PSYC 257 or PSYC 323. There are no prerequisites for this course and there is a Challenge for Credit option if you are interested.

Introduction to Human Development is made up of eight units, and requires eight quizzes worth five percent each, a critical review assignment weighing fifteen percent (three percent for the approval and twelve percent for the assignment), a research participation assignment for another five percent, and the final examination worth the remaining forty percent. The eight units discussed in this course cover the process of human development, which includes infancy, early childhood, middle and late childhood, adolescence, emerging and young adulthood, middle adulthood, and late adulthood.  To receive credit for PSYC 228, students must successfully complete all quizzes and the assignment and must achieve a composite course grade of at least a “D,” which is equivalent to fifty percent and a grade of at least fifty percent on the final examination.

Dr. Bob Heller joined Athabasca University as a tutor in 1989 and joined the faculty in 2001. He has been the coordinator for PSYC 228 since 2001 and he explains that “during that time, PSYC 228 has evolved from a child development course to a lifespan course covering cradle to grave change.” Alongside PSYC 228, Dr. Heller also coordinates PSYC 381 (Psychology of Adult Development), PSYC 375 (History of Psychology), and he coordinates and tutors PSYC 355 (Cognitive Psychology).

I gave Dr. Heller the opportunity to introduce himself to students and he stated “I obtained my Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology in 1992 at the University of Alberta and held a Post-Doctorate Research Fellowship, from 1992-94, in the Centre of Excellence on Aging Research Network where I conducted research on driving, dementia, and aging. I joined the Centre for Psychology at Athabasca University in 2001 as an associate professor and became interested in conversational agents and their role in distance education. This research has evolved into an investigation of animated historical figures as pedagogical agents and their place in immersive worlds. See http://psychology.athabascau.ca/faculty/bheller/.”

When asked to describe PSYC 228 to students, he explains that “Psychology 228 covers development from birth to death and the preparations before and after. Given the scope of coverage, it is easier to divide the lifespan into seven stages or epochs Infancy, early childhood, late childhood, adolescence, emerging adult, middle adulthood, and old age. In this course we spend a couple of chapters on each epoch covering the physical and mental change that occur along the way. There are a number of theoretical approaches to explain and understand the changes that we also cover.”

As for the structure of the course, he states that “There are eight units in the course, one for each epoch plus an introductory unit to describe some theories and methodology. There is one online quiz for each unit consisting of a combination of multiple-choice questions and some long answer question and each quiz counts 5% towards the final grade. There is also a paper worth 15% where students investigate a topic of their choosing by identifying and summarizing an instructor-approved review article. A review article is a special type of scholarly article that summarizes other research on a focused topic. There is also a research participation component worth 5% that offers students an opportunity to participate in an online research study conducting by faculty at the psychology department. Finally, the final exam is worth 40% and structured much like the quizzes with a combination of multiple-choice questions and long answer questions.”

He explains that “Based on the feedback provided so far, PSYC 228 is seen as average or fair in terms of the workload.” Furthermore, despite there being very little participation for PSYC 228 on the AUSU Course Evaluation website, the reviews from the students are very positive.

When asked if he had any advice for students who are considering enrolling, he states “Make the course work for you. Have some aging parents? Are you a first-time parent? Are you emerging into adulthood? Use the issues that face you today to guide your choices when it comes to the review paper.”

As for who he recommends this course to, he explains “Quite honestly, I do not think there is a single student that would not benefit from a course like PSYC 228. It is like an owner’s manual for life.”

When asked what he believes students will take away from this course, Dr. Bob Heller believes that it is “The paper. Most students remember the papers they write in the courses they take. I hope that students take the advice mentioned above and use the assignment to investigate something of personal interest.”

Though the paper is also what he believes students struggle with the most, stating “Sometimes structure is very helpful, especially in new situations. Having too much freedom can be daunting.”

Whether PSYC 228 is a degree or program requirement of yours, or the topics discussed above are of interest to you, this course will have you learning a lot of interesting material surrounding the topic of human development.

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