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Tufts OpenCourseware


  • To acquaint the student with major current theories of intellectual development
  • To foster the ability to think theoretically
  • To apply good theory in professional and personal ways
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1. General Information

The course consists of

  • weekly meetings to discuss reading material

  • a mid-term quiz; a final examination

  • a project

The project is discussed in more detail below. Students are expected to attend classes and participate in discussions.

2. Metahobby Project

Each student is asked to begin a hobby that she or he will pursue through the semester on a systematic basis. In most instances, the hobby should be something that the student is interested in and has wanted to do. The course gives a good reason to finally take the time to try that something new or return to an activity after leaving it for a period of time. The activity should be something that you are not already good at, although one need not be an absolute novice. The project should include instruction of some kind, preferably formal instruction such as a course or regular lessons.

All metahobby selections must be discussed with and approved by the instructor before proceeding with the activity.

As part of the metahobby assignment, students are required to keep a log and journal, recording their experiences with the project, as well as keep a portfolio of their work. These experiences should include both intellectual as well as emotional responses to the learning process. This journal will become the "data" upon which the final paper is based.

It is vital that entries be regular and be sufficiently detailed to use as data for an analysis of your learning experiences. The journal will be part of the documentation of the metahobby proves and turned in with the paper.

2.1. Some Suggested Metahobby Projects

Dance, drawing, calligraphy, sign language, tennis or other sport, poker, bridge, backgammon, wine tasting, photography, yoga, kickboxing, musical instrument or voice training, computer programming, juggling, magic, acting, directing, chess, billiards, pottery, cooking, basket weaving, foreign language (requires special permission), Tai Kwan Do or other marital art (but not a self defense course), weight training, bell dancing, auto body repair, ...

3. Final Paper

The final paper is an analysis, theoretical and empirical, of the metahobby experience. In particular, it is an analysis of the changes in skill level and accompanying emotions experienced while involved in metahobby.

The paper should be about 12 to 15 pages of double-space type plus a journal with regular entries. Keep systematic backups of all entries and turn in tow copies of your final paper and journal (one paper, one electronic).

Unless you elect not to participate, your metahobby data (anonymous) may be used in research.

4. Assessment

Performance in the course is evaluated using an absolute scale. There is no curve. The standard is set high, but achievable. For example, an "A" grade requires an average of 95%.

There are a total of 250 points possible:
Quiz: 50 points

Final: 100 points

Paper: 100 points

Class attendance is expected and class participation is encouraged; in exceptional cases or where a student's grade on the borderline, these other factors may be part of the student's overall evaluation.

Cooperative learning is strongly encouraged. Students are urged to participate in study groups.

5. Required Books and Readings

  1. Bringuier, J-C. (1980) Conversations with Jean Piaget. University of Chicago Press.

  2. Feldman,D.H. (1994). Beyond universals in cognitive development.2nd ed. Greenwood/Ablex.

  3. Gopnik, A., Meltzoff, A., & Kuhl, P. (1999). The scientist in the crib. Perennial.

  4. Richardson, Ken (1998). Models of cognitive development. Psychology Press.

  5. Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society. Harvard University Press.

  6. Course Readings Packet

6. Session Assignments

Session 1

Overview : Models of the Mind and its Development. Introduction to Metahobby. Richardson, K., Models of Cognitive Development (MOCD), Preface.

Video: "Project Spectrum"

Session 2

IQ and Psychometrics: Gardner, Kornhaber, & Wake. Intelligence: Multiple Perspectives: Preface, Ch. 2* (pp 31, 41-57 only), Ch. 3*(* indicates reading or reading set is from course readings packet).
Newspaper articles on IQ : "Smarter than the average cop"*, "CEO finds fault..."*; "Broader, varied SAT advocated"*; "The unwilling made barren"*; "A shameful little secret"*; "Nonprofit test company pays 6-figure bonuses"*; "The SAT tests*"; Sternberg, R. "Culture and intelligence" (2004).*

Video: "Secrets of the SATs"
"Secrets of the SATs: an update" (2001).*

Session 3

Earliest cognitive development: brain and mind : The Scientist in the Crib (SITC), Chs. Preface, 1,6; "
Solving for XX"*; "The Myth of the first three years"*; "Your baby's brain"* (2005); "What makes teens tick?"*;
"A scientific flip flop?" (2005)*; "Another nine inch nail..." (2006); "Developmental science and the media," (2001)*;
Gunkel correspondence (5pp)*; "Scientists in and out of the crib", (2003).*
Optional : "Functional brain development in infants: elements of an interactive specialization framework," Child Development, 71, February 2000, p. 75-81.*

Video: "The Secret Life of the Brain"

Session 4

Piaget I: MOCD, 26-29, 169-181; SITC Ch.3; Bringuier (Preface, Chs. 1,3); "Piaget's stages of cognitive development" (Table*; "The time 100" (1999)*; "Special Insert" (pp. 5-7 only)*; GKW, Ch. 4, pp 97-114*; "Essay Review of Figurative/operative processes in the artistic development of children."*

Video: "Anne Catherine at 1 day, 4 mos., 3 years, 6 years"

Session 5

Piaget II: OCD, pp. 94-142; Bringuier (Ch.4); D. "Table 4-1: PreOperational to concrete operational stages"*; "Piaget and Montessori"*; "Betsy: invented marble game"*; "The child as nonegocentric art critic"(Child Development, 1984).*

Session 6

Piaget III: Bringuier (5,6); "16 Binary Operations"; "INRC Group"*; "Critiquing and reconstructing Piaget's stage theory" (2002)*; "Table 4: Summary of the revised stages"*; "Piaget's legacy."*

Video: "Piaget on Piaget"

Session 7


Session 8

Session 8

Neo Piagetian, Microdevelopment, Dynamic Systems Theories: MOCD: pp.172-180; 185-190. "New theory on development could usurp ...: (1997)*; Beyond the immaculate transition "(SRCD Newsletter, 1993)*; "The process of stage transition"*; Summary of the theory"*; "The promise of dynamics systems approaches", (2000). "Tufts University presents..." (2003)*; "Always Under Construction..." (2002).*

"Child development and public policy: toward a dynamic systems perspective." Child Development, 72, 1887-1903.*

Session 9

Vygotsky I: Mind in Society, Preface, Intro., Chs.1, 4. "Remembering Father"*; "Comments on thought & language".*

Video:"Vygotsky's Theory of Development: An Introduction"

("Davidson Films" outline in course packet*)

Session 10

Vygotsky II, Human Culture and Uniqueness: MOCD, pp. 154-168; Mind in Society, (Chs.6,7); "The inspiration of Vygotsky"*; "Gorilla breast fetish women sue..."* (2005); "Chimp cognition as the millennium looms"*; "Fuzzy math"*; "The cultural origins of human cognition," Chs.1,2 (to p. 36 only).*

Video: "A Conversation with Koko"

Session 11

Nonuniversal Theory: GKW,Ch.4(pp.122-125*); MOCD 170-171; Beyond universals, Intro, Prefaces, Chs.1,2,3,4,5); "Sideways: no going up"*; "Seventh heaven"*; "The maverick" Boston Globe Magazine*; "Beyond modularity" Ch.1(Preface, pp 1-17)*; "Nonuniversal terms"*; "Table 5.1: "Five stages of skill acquisition"*; "Novice to master"*;"Nonuniversal developmental domains"*; "Transitions phases, and emotions patterns."*

Session 12

Multiple Intelligences: "Frames of mind, Ch. 1"*; "How teachers interpret MI theory*; "Multiple Intelligence disorder"*; GKW, Ch.7 (pp.202-214 *); "Seven kinds of smart" (Time Magazine)*;"MI catalogue materials"*; "You're smart"(Sassy Magazine (1992)*. "Project spectrum: An innovative assessment alternative"(Educational Leadership).*

Video: "MI Millenium"

Session 13

Last Class: "Child development and the PITS." (Child Development (2000)*; SITC. Ch.7.

Session 14

Final Examination

Session 15

Papers Due