Ph.D. - Developmental Psychology
The concentration in developmental psychology addresses issues in human development extending from infancy to old age, and includes comprehensive coverage of the following primary facets of the developmental process: perceptual and cognitive growth; the acquisition of language and communication skills; personality and social-emotional development; and behavior genetics. There are three major clusters: (1) Basic Processes including cognitive and social development; (2) Quantitative Theory and Analysis in Development and (3) Diversity in Development with three subthemes: a) Development in ethnic minority and culturally diverse families; b) development in low income and special needs families and c) translation of developmental research for intervention and legal and social policy.
Research in specific developmental problem areas changes from year to year in response to changing interest of both faculty and students. Some specific areas of current research in perceptual and cognitive development are: Theory of mind; symbolic representation; the development of children's planning and problem-solving skills; aging and memory; and, cognitive performance over the lifespan. Recent investigations in the areas of language and communication development address aspects of language acquisition in both normal and language-disordered children, including the acquisition of sign language and how words and signs acquire meaning for deaf, autistic, and dysphasic children. The short- and long-term effects of normative and non-normative life transitions such as divorce, on children development are being studied, as well as questions of the role of attachment throughout the lifespan, especially in toddlers. Additional areas of personality and socio-emotional development being examined are children's friendships, family and peer relations, and child development, Native American, African American and lesbian and gay families. In other studies, the impact of early identification and intervention for developmentally delayed children and children at risk are being assessed, with special emphasis on issues related to race and family poverty. Also cross cultural studies of children in Brazil, Japan, India and the Philippines are underway. Finally, issues related to law and children, especially children's capacities in legal contexts, e.g., competence to stand trial, culpability, competence, youth violence, child custody after divorce and child abuse.
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
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