Fall 2020 - PSYC 950 G100

Seminar in Developmental Psychology (3)

Class Number: 8233

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 8:30 AM – 11:20 AM



This course will be delivered remotely and synchronously. Students are expected to attend lectures and engage in discussion of the course topics. This course will provide you with a general introduction to major theories, perspectives, research developments and methods in the relatively young sub-field of cross-cultural developmental psychology. We will focus on early development (0-5yrs) and examine influences of socialization practices and experience on social and cognitive development. We will compare evidence from Western, urban societies to non-Western, small-scale societies to determine whether early developmental theories and empirical findings are generalizable to children across the globe. Special emphasis will be placed on parenting, however we will also examine ecological constraints on development. Emphasis will be placed on fostering critical analysis of current theories and methodology, as well as discussing underlying assumptions in the developmental psychological literature. The overall goal is to examine early child social and cognitive development from an interdisciplinary perspective.


1) To understand theoretical perspectives & debates in the field.
2) To know the details of empirical evidence and ethnographic reports.
3) To critically evaluate major theories (and assumptions) in developmental psychology in light of cross-cultural evidence.


  • Participation: 20%
  • Writing Assignments: 40%
  • Term Paper/Project: 40%


Readings will span the fields of developmental psychology as well as ethnographic reports and empirical investigations in anthropology. There is no textbook for the course and students are expected to attend class prepared to discuss the readings in depth. 

Students are expected to critically evaluate readings carefully in light of major theories in developmental psychology. Assignments and evaluation include weekly journal entries critiquing the readings (40%), a review paper examining one of the course topics (40%) and a short team presentation introducing one of the weekly topics and initiating class discussion (20%).

Early child development across cultures; Experience and social-cognitive development; Parenting; Socialization; Social learning.

Weekly seminar; there are no tutorials in this class.

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).