Student Learning Outcome

This assignment is designed to assess the following student learning outcome (SLO):

  • Compare and contrast various theoretical frameworks that relate to the study of human development.

Developing Your Personal Philosophy

The Philosophy Statement assignment provides an opportunity to review the theoretical perspectives discussed throughout this semester. In a 3-5 page paper (excluding title page, abstract, and references) you will argue which theories you believe best explain how children think, learn, grow, and develop.

A philosophy is a set of beliefs about how children develop and learn. This is an individualized statement that is based on core values and beliefs. These are related to your beliefs about the nature and purpose of life, your role and calling in life, and your relationship and responsibilities to others. A philosophy is more than an opinion; it is based on theoretical frameworks, as well as empirical data. Understanding and applying this information is valuable, but ultimately you have to decide what you personally believe and why you believe that. Moment by moment, day by day, what you believe impacts what you will teach and how you will teach it.

  1. Review: Review the five theoretical perspectives discussed throughout the text. Re-read chapter two, then review the concepts in other chapters that discuss development in terms of the theories. For example, Berger (the author) comes back to Piaget and Vygotsky in the chapters on cognitive development (especially in chapters 9 and 12), and comes back to Erikson (and sometimes Freud) in the chapters on psychosocial development. She reviews theories when she discusses language learning (chapter 6), infant development (chapter 7), and gender roles (chapter 10). The theories are woven throughout the text. Also review the lecture and PowerPoint slides posted in the Chapter 2 learning unit folder. In addition, the “Additional Resources” section of chapter two lists numerous videos and websites that will help you better understand the theories
  1. Reflect and Select: Spend time thinking and talking about the various theories and brainstorm points you want to make in your philosophy statement. Write an outline or web to help you organize your ideas before you start writing your actual essay. You do not need to use every part of every theory in your paper. Some students are eclectic and use some aspect of each theory. Some students select several theories and focus on specific aspects of those theories. For this assignment you are required to use a minimum of three theories (can be parts of a theory – such as social learning from behaviorism, information processing from cognitive, and Freud from psychoanalytic). The possibilities are endless within the five major theories, but here are some aspects of the theories that previous students have incorporated into their philosophy statements:
  1. Psychoanalytic Theory
  1. Freud’s concepts (unconscious motivations, id, ego superego, etc.)
  2. Freud’s psychosexual stages (oral, anal, phallic, latency, genital)
  3. Erikson’s psychosocial stages (trust vs. mistrust, autonomy vs. shame and doubt, initiative vs. guilt, industry vs. inferiority, identity vs. role confusion, intimacy vs. isolation, generativity vs. stagnation, integrity vs. despair)
  1. Behaviorism Theory
  1. Classical conditioning (Pavlov)
  2. Operant conditioning (Skinner)
  3. Social learning theory and self-efficacy (Bandura)
  1. Cognitive Theory
  1. Piaget’s concepts (equilibrium/disequilibrium, schemas, assimilation, accommodation)
  2. Piaget’s periods (sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, formal operational)
  3. Information processing
  4. Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences
  1. Sociocultural Theory
  1. Vygotsky’s concepts (guided participation, zone of proximal development, scaffolding, apprenticeship in learning)
  2. Ethnotheories and parenting styles
  3. Vygotsky’s emphasis on the role of language in mediating (fostering) learning the connection between Vygotsky’s theory and the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education
  4. Vygotsky and the role of the teacher
  1. The Universal Perspective
  1. Humanism (Maslow and Rogers)
  2. Evolutionary theory
  3. Epigenetic theory (nature and nurture)
Helpful tip: Make an appointment with the Writing Center or the Tutoring Center (760-795-6682) before you start writing your paper. They will help you organize your thoughts and help you brainstorm the main issues you want to cover. (Online appointments are available too!)
  1. Write: Write a philosophy statement arguing which theories you believe best explain how children think, learn, grow and develop. Think about your audience (the general public) and do not assume the reader has an understanding of the theories. Be specific enough in discussing each theory that someone not familiar with the theories would understand your paper. Demonstrate an understanding of the theories, but make the philosophy statement personal and interesting. Most of all, enjoy the process of pulling together what you have learned about the theories!
  1. Note: Be sure to use your own words. Credit will not be given for copying sections of the text. This is plagiarism (see Course Guide). Read the section you want to include, then close the book and restate the concepts in your own words. If you want to use a quote from the text be sure to use quotation marks and cite the source using APA format. Review all aspects of the theories and synthesize what you have learned from a variety of chapters.
  1. Evaluate: After you have written your philosophy, evaluate it with the following questions:
  1. Does my philosophy accurately relate my beliefs about how children learn, grow, think, and develop, as well as how that is best supported?
  2. Have I been honest with myself?
  3. Is it understandable to me and others?
  4. Are my ideas consistent with one another?
  5. Have I included at least three credible citations?

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