Cultural Influences on Development



Department: Human Development & Learning

Course: HDAL 4666

Course Title: Cultural Influences in Development

Semester Hours: Three (3)


Lives Across Cultures: Cross-Cultural Human Development (2/e) by Harry W. Gardiner, Jay D. Mutter, Corinne Kosmitzki

Supplemental Text:

The Intersection of Cultures by Joel Spring

Catalog Description:

Prerequisites: PSYC 1310 and HDAL 2310 or 2320. An intensive study of familial, societal, economic, and religious influences on psychological development. The emergence of the individual person across a broad spectrum of national, ethnic, linguistic, and religious subcultures is examined.

Additional Course Information:

The course investigates the changes which characterize human development within the ecological structure of differing cultures. It presents an overall perspective yet includes study in the areas of group conflict, race and ethnicity, nationalities, cultural practices, and ethnography.

Relationship of Course to College, Program, & Goals:

In order to meet the college goal of "understanding learners and learning processes" it is imperative that prospective educators understand the dynamics and dimensions of the cultural influences in development. Consistent with the college of education's philosophy of preparing "educators who are committed to serving a rapidly changing, expanding, and increasingly diverse society" this course examines the local, national, and global characteristics and changes in societies as they relate to human development and, additionally, knowledge of the impact these qualities have on human development with regard to environmental impact, education, personal and professional development, psychosocial problems, interpersonal relationships, and health issues.

Course Objectives:

I. To understand the sociological/anthropological influences upon psychology and contributions from the fields of cross-cultural psychology, sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, human ecology, social and developmental psychology, and related disciplines.

II. To examine the differences and similarities in human developmental processes between identifiable groups of people separated by such characteristics as geography, physical appearance, belief systems, ways of behaving, and similar cultural qualities.

III. To expand understanding of different cultural practices for an appreciation of diversity in the world.

IV. To apply cross-cultural concepts when dealing with psychosocial problems in an environment of diversity.

V. To develop individual competency in cultural relativism, minimizing discrimination from ethnocentrism and xenophobia.

VI. To address racial and ethnic issues and formulate strategies to facilitate effective communication and conflict resolution.

VII. To facilitate inclusion of diverse groups characterized by cognitive, social, and emotional uniqueness that can benefit from informed consideration.

VIII. To understand religious diversity correlative to culture and its effect upon ethical and moral development.

IX. To engage in ethnographic research and investigate some aspect of culture and development.

X. To generate a more comprehensive model of human growth and development in the context of historical changes and future possibilities from current perspectives.

Course Topics:

Acculturation and socialization; cross-cultural research; race and ethnicity; comparative patterns of behavior for developmental processes such as parenting, maturation, aging, cognitive changes, emotional growth, gender and sexuality; rites of passage; descriptions of developmental patterns from various cultures such as Latin, Asian, African, and European nations as well as subcultures diverse as LGBT, Appalachians, and youth gangs; developmental niche; ecological systems theory from Bronfenbrenner; sociocultural theory by Vygotsky; cognitive and socioemotional development by Piaget and Erikson; cultural contrasts in temperament and self-concept; traditional and expanded concepts and values of diversity and multiculturalism; vitality/mortality comparisons in health related issues; media, modernization, and the role of the popular culture; countercultures; the effects of culture shock and views of the future.

Cross-cultural Psychology:

A study of human biological and behavioral development in the context of cultural influences. This course also continues systematic use of scientifically based principles and procedures which are applicable to cross-cultural research. "Comprehension" level competence is sought. Consistent with the College of Education's goal of assisting students in acquiring an "understanding of learners and learning processes" this class provides the fundamental knowledge for this understanding. The class also provides "knowledge of professional, ethical and legal issues affecting educators." "Educating Leaders for the 21st Century" represents the College's thematic program model. The model has professional, content, and general knowledge as its core. Knowledge is enhanced by the following factors for best practice: caring, collaboration, life-long learning, reflective practice, critical thinking, and diversity.




Course Title: Cultural Influences on Development

Credit Hours: 3

Semester: offered every Spring semester

Instructor: Steve Cockerham

Office: Rm 301A Warf-Pickel College of Education

Telephone: 423/439-4189

Office Hours:

Rev 01/01 

Course Management and Evaluation Policies

Text: Lives Across Cultures: Cross-cultural Human Development  (2/e) by Harry W. Gardiner, Jay D. Mutter, & Corrinne Kosmitzki

Supplemental Text: The Intersection of Cultures by Joel Spring

Oral Communication and Writing Intensive: This course is designated oral and writing intensive. Instruction and required readings in oral communication and writing skills as well as consultation with the Writing and Communication Center are provided to enhance competency. Instructor and student evaluations are conducted to assess oral communication and writing skills as well as to improve levels of proficiency.

Examinations: There are four (4) exams given during the semester including the final exam...three (3) major tests and the final exam. The exams during the semester are scheduled in class to be completed toward the end of each month of school in session. The final exam must be taken at the date and time scheduled unless special arrangements are made in advance.

*Exam #1 - Lecture notes, Text (Chapters 1 & 2), selected readings Weeks 1,2,3,4,5. The exam is composed of 25 short- answer questions which assess knowledge of subject material and effective oral/written communication.

*Exam #2 - Class presentations - Weeks 6,7,8,9,10,11 (self assessments)

Each student will orally present for at least 10 minutes on an assigned topic from ethnic groups in the US and around the world. A self assessment form is completed by each presenter to evaluate performance and due the week after presenting. This form is graded as Exam #2.

*Exam #3 - An essay test will assess comprehension of issues and content of the supplemental text by Spring, Intersection of Cultures.

Weeks 12,13,14 - Panel discussions and assessments - Students will be assigned to panels for presentations and discussions in class on topics related to development within diverse groups of the US. Each student will complete a panel assessment after the panel discussions are concluded that evaluates listening comprehension skills and knowledge of group facilitation.

*Final Exam – Notes from lectures and panel discussions plus Text (Chapters 3-10) – review Week 15. The final exam is composed of 20 short-answer and 5 essay questions that test knowledge of subject matter and relevant aspects of oral/written communication.

Class Participation:

Students are expected to actively express opinions and give differing perspectives in the spirit of open inquiry, accepting a wide variety of viewpoints and investigating often contentious issues.

Every student is required to complete a peer assessment form for each presentation and panel discussion to critically examine the content of material and the quality of oral communications skills. The peer assessments are summarized by the instructor to provide individual feedback on class presentations as well as panel discussions.

Class attendance is required. Those who are unable to reasonably attend have not fulfilled class expectations. Absences over the semester which exceed 10% of class time can result in a lower grade. Excessive absenteeism makes passing difficult.

Written Assignments:

Minimum 15 pages over the semester, inc. 5 page revision

Three (3) Papers - 5 to 7 pages in length

Paper #1 - Describe aspects of human development from a culture represented by international ethnicity.

Paper #2 - Describe aspects of human development from a subculture characterizing a type of diverse group found in the US.

Paper #3 - Elaborate on best practice for intercultural competence in a facility devoted to an aspect of human development.

The Fourth Edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association will be used as a guide to format the papers. Due dates fall at the ends of each succeeding full month during the semester (January, February, March).

Grade Analysis:

A 100 B 86 C 76 D 66

A- 93 B- 83 C- 73 D- 63

B+ 89 C+ 79 D+ 69 F below 60

Letter grades are computed at the equivalent numerical scores from the above scale when deriving grades.


Exam #1 Written questions ......10%

Exam #2 Self assessment ........10% GRADE

Exam #3 Essay questions ........10% PERCENTAGES

Final Exam Written questions ...10%

Presentation Grade ..............30%

Written Assignments (papers) ....30%




Name of Presenter: Topic:

What were the main points presented?




Use some adjectives to describe the kinesthetics.



Characterize the vocal quality.



Was the topic well-introduced and concluded?


Rate the examples/visual aids used to illustrate the topic.




What strengths in oral presentation were observed?




What suggestions could improve oral presentation skills?





_____________________________________________________________________________________Name of Presenter: Topic:

What were the main points presented?




Use some adjectives to describe the kinesthetics.



Characterize the vocal quality.



Was the topic well introduced and concluded.


Rate the examples/visual aids used to illustrate the topic.




What strengths in oral presentation were observed?




What suggestions could improve oral presentation skills?








TOPIC OF PANEL DISCUSSION:___________________________________________________________


________________________________________________________________________________________ Name of Presenter: Topic:

What were the main points presented?






What strengths in oral presentation were observed?






What suggestions could improve oral presentation skills?




Rate on a scale from 1 thru 4 with 1 being "Strongly agree",

2 - "moderately agree", 3 - "moderately disagree", 4 - "strongly disagree"


1. My presentation was effective in teaching the topic........._________

2. I would make the presentation this way again................_________

3. The class seemed interested in my presentation.............._________

4. The material had a high degree of complexity, making it

difficult for the audience to understand...................._________

5. Some people in the audience lost interest .................._________

6. I prefer to lecture more than do hands-on..................._________

7. I did not summarize the content well........................_________

8. The presentation was highly entertaining...................._________

9. My style encourages questions and participation............._________

10. I encouraged new viewpoints and opinions...................._________

11. Some important points in the topic were not presented......._________

12. I conveyed a thorough knowledge of the subject material....._________

13. I usually do better in presentations........................_________

14. I was very nervous before the presentation.................._________

15. The topic I presented was boring............................_________

16. I have learned several good teaching techniques............._________

17. I hate watching presentations..............................._________

18. Practice is important in learning to present to groups......_________

19. I had some significant problems that interfered with

the quality of our presentation............................._________

20. I prefer to receive a grade for my presentation rather than

the self-assessment......................................._________


GENERAL QUESTIONS (please use additional paper)


1. What specific skills did you learn during your preparation as well as presentation?

2. How did you generate the idea for the presentation?

3. What steps did you take in planning the session?

4. How did you estimate the time for the presentation?

5. In what specific ways do you deal with stress and anxiety related to

class presentations?

6. Derive a new and creative way you might present information in class.

7. List 3 field trips you [might] plan on taking with your students or clients.

8. Describe your best assets in oral communication skills.

9. Name 2 areas of possible improvement in your oral communication.

10. How can this course better facilitate your learning oral communication skills?



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