Science in the Service of Children

May 10, 2022

How did you become who you are today? Have you ever wondered about how childhood experiences affect who people are as adults? Do children and adults think in different ways? How do children form and keep close, lasting friendships? What role do parents play in children’s development? Are you interested in later life outcomes of early life stress? Are you curious about how each of us develops a unique, personal identity? In Developmental Psychology, you will explore the scientific answers to such questions. 

Developmental Psychology (PSY 233) brings together hands-on learning with reading and classroom discussion to study how children’s growing brains, minds, emotions, and behavior from the earliest point of life through adolescence interact with their experiences to make us who we are today. Course processes celebrate human diversity and show how we are all similar and what makes each of us unique. 

Children play at the preschool playground

The distinctive Grinnell College Preschool provides the lab space for the course, where you will observe and directly interact with children from the greater Grinnell community. At the preschool, you will work in groups and individually to ask and answer questions about children’s development. Our preschool is one of a very few programs in the country where psychology students gain research skills in a college-supported preschool, providing unique learning opportunities for all students.

Early approaches in developmental psychology focused “ages and stages” to explain “what” children are capable of at different ages. Today, developmental psychologists explain “how” and “why” our thinking, emotions, temperaments, and social relationships change and remain the same over childhood and into adulthood. 

The methods of inquiry you learn in Developmental Psychology will allow you to ask questions and seek answers about children and child development in systematic ways. On your course journey, you will learn that psychological development is full of complexity and contradiction. You also will learn about the ethics of asking scientific questions about children and how research in developmental psychology is used to support the lives of children. 

The skills you will learn in Developmental Psychology create opportunities for you to explore the field in greater depth and apply to diverse careers including medicine, social work, public health, education, economic policy, and even computer science. While at Grinnell, you could take advantage of internships in psychology or social services and work in on- or off-campus psychology research labs.  

The understanding you gain about psychological development in Developmental Psychology equips you to be a full citizen of the world, providing you with tools to support some of the world’s most vulnerable people. The course prepares you to understand your role in the world, where you came from, what shaped you, and who you can become. 

Learn more about studying psychology at Grinnell

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