Course Outline: Psychology 253

Course Information

  • Department: Psychology
  • Prepared By: Psychology Department
  • Prepared Date: Fall 2017
  • Course Title: Life Span Development
  • Course Code: PSY 253
  • Credits: 3
  • Contact Hours: 45

Catalog Description

This course provides a comprehensive overview of normal human development throughout the life span. It will apply a scientific and research perspective to understanding both age-related change and consistency. The course will examine physical, cognitive, social and emotional development at every stage of life, with an emphasis on continuity and discontinuity of development as we progress from one stage of life to the next. Additionally, students will learn about those theories and research methods which are most pertinent to the study of lifespan development.  Prerequisite(s): PSY 101. Credits: 3 (3,0)

  • Prerequisites: PSY 101, PSY 130, or PSY 131 or permission from Department Chairperson.
  • Required For: None
  • Elective For: All curricula with a social science elective
  • Required text: Lifespan Development, 1st Edition, Tara Kuther, Sage Publishing

Course Outline

Unit 1: Introduction to Life-Span Development

  • The Life-Span Perspective
  • The Nature of Development
  • Theories of Life-Span Development
  • Research in Life-Span Development

Unit 2: Biological Beginnings

  • The Evolutionary Perspective
  • Genetic Foundations
  • Heredity and Environment
  • Prenatal Influences

Unit 3: Physical Development

  • Body Growth and Change
  • The Brain
  • Longevity
  • Motor Development
  • Sensory and Perceptual Development

Unit 4: Cognitive Development

  • Piaget
  • Information Processing
  • Intelligence

Unit 5: Socioemotional Development

  • Temperament
  • Emotions
  • Personality
  • Identity
  • Gender and Sexuality

Unit 6: Moral Development

  • Domains of Moral Development
  • Religion and Values

Unit 7: The Social Contexts of Development

  • Families
  • Peers
  • Schools, Achievement and Work

Unit 8: Death and Grieving

  • Defining Death
  • Death and Mourning in a Cultural Context
  • Facing One’s Own Death
  • Coping with the Death of Someone Else

Course Objectives

After successfully completing this course students should be able to:

  • Describe the roles that genetics and experience play in development
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the research methods used in developmental psychology
  • Explain the major theories describing human development
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the growth processes in biological, cognitive, and psychosocial development from infancy to old age
  • Apply developmental theories and research to their own lives and the lives of people close to them

The following instructional methodologies will be used:

Lecture, Class Discussions, and Instructional Technologies


The original impetus for the development of this course was a request from the Nursing Department that we do so, but this course could be of interest to students in all curriculums and may be used as a social science elective. It would be of particular value for students pursuing studies/careers that require interaction with people across the age spectrum (of a wide variety of ages). Such fields include, but are not limited to, nursing, dental hygiene, social work, criminal justice (police, lawyers), and occupational and physical therapy.