Psychology 100K: Development of Thought and Language

/developed by Dr. Eugene Matusov/

Psychology 100K: Development of Thought and Language
-- UCSC, Winter 1997 --

Class Schedule

TIME OF CLASS: Mondays, Wednesdays 5:00-6:45 p.m. PLACE: Soc. Sci. I Room 161

Group I -- Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3:15-5:30 p.m.;
Group II - Wednesdays 2:15-4:30 p.m. and Fridays, 3:15-5:30 p.m.
Barrios Unidos (313 Front Street [nearby Laurel street]; bus stop "Bus Depo"); phone 457-8208

First class meeting: January 06 (Mon) Last class meeting: March 12 (Wed)

Info about Instructor, Teaching Assistants, & Office Hours

INSTRUCTOR: Eugene Matusov, Ph. D. (postdoctoral fellow in psychology)
For more info about the Instructor see Eugene Matusov's Home Web Page
Office: Soc. Sci. II, Room#305 Phone: x5180 e-mail:
Office hours:by appointment

TEACHING ASSISTANT: Pablo Chavajay, M.S. (graduate student in psychology)
Office: Soc. Sci. II, Room#419 e-mail:
Office hours: by appointment

TEACHING ASSISTANT: Jamy Stillman, B.A. (graduate student in education)
Office: to be announced e-mail:
Office hours: 3-5pm Wednesdays

Overview: The core 5 questions
In this seminar, we will draw upon psychological theory, empirical research, field experience, writing field notes, web discussions, and students' own beliefs about cognition and language to explore different modes and models of child development. This course involves a required 2-unit practicum where students work with children in an informal computer-learning lab at Barrios Unidos, a local community-based program for Spanish/English bilingual youth. The readings and projects of the seminar are designed to facilitate the integration of these experiences with academic knowledge. Discussion of readings will be based on small group discussions because we do not expect each student to read all assigned papers -- brief sharing of readings in small groups is critical for the class.

The seminar is organized around five core questions:

1. How do we know that there is cognitive and language development in children?

2. What could children learn from computers and computer games? How do the computers and games affect cognition and language?

3. How is informal learning similar/different from formal learning in contributing to cognitive and language development?

4. How does the bilingual multicultural Barrios Unidos community contribute to children's cognitive and language development?

5. How do you contribute to children's cognitive and language development at Barrios Unidos? How do the Barrios Unidos children contribute to your cognitive and language development?

Practicum: Visiting the Barrios Unidos site
Class will be divided into two groups, each of which will have its own Teaching Assistant throughout the class. Twice a week each group will work with children at Barrios Unidos for one and a half hours and then will have a 30-minute debriefing, during which you are going to share your impressions and concerns and will create a list of issues that your group will bring for the entire class. (see Purposes & Expectations: Participation in field observations, debriefing, and helping children at the site).

Here is your work schedule at the site:

3:15 p.m. your arrival at Barrios Unidos
3:15-3:30 p.m. organizational meeting with the Site Coordinator
3:30 p.m. children arrive
3:30-5:00 p.m. helping children with their activities
5:00-5:30 p.m. debriefing
5:30 p.m. you leave the site

Note: On Wednesdays, the site starts and ends its work one hour earlier.

First week's assignment

Description of your interests. (1 page, max.; DUE 01/10 Fri)

Describe the reasons why you are taking the course and what you would like to get out of it. The following questions may guide your writing. Everyone should include the first question in your response. However, you may chose whether you want to respond to the remaining questions listed or to include other issues as you wish.

  1. How does the course relate to your interests (e.g., personal, professional, political, etc.)?
  2. What are you expecting to learn from participating in the course ( e.g., in general, in contrast to other psychology courses you have taken, etc.)?
  3. How do you think you can make contributions to your own and others' learning in this course?
  4. How is the goal of the course, as you understand it now, related to your learning goals?

Please, list specific issues of your interest.

The purpose of the assignment is to facilitate your thinking about your expectations, learning needs, and demands for the course in order to make your own learning more meaningful and self-directive and to make the class more productive for everybody. The assignment also will help to make and design your final evaluation.

Please, use Post Discussion Message page for submitting your paper. Put "Description of my interests" in the subject of your message.

Participation in our class Web discussions

We expect you to read all the messages and contribute a minimum of five messages per week (which can involve messages on a subjected initiated by your or replies to somebody else's messages – class announcements and replies to them do NOT count). The Web discussion will be based on readings, class discussions, and my guiding questions for readings (provided in the reader collection of the assigned papers). Out of five required messages, one has to be a first draft of a fieldnote, one – feedback to somebody else's fieldnote, one – revision of your previous fieldnote, and one discussion message (or reply to somebody else's message). The other message can be flexibly distributed among the four types of postings. More than 5 postings are welcome.

Writing field notes

  1. First draft of a fieldnote
  2. At least 2 peer or TA feedbacks on the fieldnote
  3. Revision of the fieldnote

Within 48 hours of visiting the Barrios Unidos site, you will write and publish your FIRST DRAFT of a field note formatted by our template on our class Web. For more info about goals and expectations about writing field notes, please, visit the Purposes & Expectations: Participation in writing Field Notes page.

We exapect you to provide feedback on the first draft of your fieldnote. TAs, University Coordinators, and Instructor will also provide you feedback.

After recieving at least 2 feedbacks, you can revise your fieldnote and post it on our fieldnote database.


We expect you to read the minimal readings indicated in the parentheses in the reading list.

Because we do not expect you to read all assigned papers (although you are welcome to read all of them), we are going to discuss reading in the three following phases in class:

Two copies of each assigned paper are available at the Reserve Desk at the Science Library and two copies are available at the Reserve Desk at the McHenry Library (you can borrow a paper for 2 hours).

While reading the papers, we would like you to focus on how the readings relate to your and other students' experience at Barrios Unidos, your life experience, your interests, and future career.

Please, let us know if the order and the content of the topics meet your needs, so we can adjust them as we go and/or change for the next time we teach this class (see Purposes & Expectations: Reading the assigned literature).

Group project

Paper and class presentation. (2-3 single-spaced pages for each involved student in the group; the final written draft of the group project paper is DUE the day of your group presentation in class)

The idea of the group project is to learn together how to work on a project – this skill is very important for your future career. Also, by sharing frustration and problems together, we believe, you'll provide a lot of guidance for each other.

In this research paper your group will integrate fieldnote data with conceptual issues from readings and in-class discussions to answer a developmental research question about children's cognitive and language development. The process of developing group research interests will be ongoing throughout the course and, where appropriate, will be integrated into in-class activities. Groups can vary from 3 to 8 people (hopefully, groups will emerge "naturally" by mid-quarter through discussions of the assigned readings).

What needs to be considered in the paper:

Final paper

(Option I: add 2-3 single-spaced pages to the group project; Option II: write a new paper from scratch, 3-4 single-spaced pages; the final draft DUE 03/21 Fri. via the Publishing Web for Students' Final Papers at )

Option I involves integration and elaboration on some aspects of the group paper. You probably will change the title and abstract of the paper. Also it may require you to make changes throughout the paper (do not expect simple addition to the text). Add one new paper reference and two Internet web references. Include acknowledgments to your fellow students who contributed to the paper and describe your contribution (put all these in the abstract).

Option II involves selecting a new topic that is different from your group project. However, you can use references or some ideas from your (or another) group project. Add two more new paper references and two more Internet web references.

Note that the paper of Option II will be a bit longer because Option I involves an integration which may not be an easy task.

All other guidelines are the same as for group projects (see above, do not forget to include abstracts).

We want you to publish your final paper on the Internet because in this class you are going to learn to become more and more public in your work – this seems to be very valuable skill in your future career.

For further requirements and formats see Purposes & Expectations: Writing the final papers.

Last week's assignment (due 03/21, Fri, published on our class web)

The final evaluation will include an abstract from your individual final paper and 1-3 paragraphs on what you learned in the class that is what was interesting or relevant for your future career and what issues you'd like to explore in future.

Evaluation will be based on two research papers and each student's active participation in seminar and practicum activities.

There won't be a final exam.

The narrative format of the final class evaluation will be discussed in the class -- this discussion is considered to be a part of the course curriculum (see Purposes & Expectations: Participating in development of the class evaluation).

Feedback on the class
In addition to the traditional University evaluation at the end of the class, we really want your regular feedback on the class so we can improve it down the road. So we want to ask you to fill out biweekly feedback survey forms every even Saturday of the month. The reports of the feedback will be prepared timely and published on our class Web. We also plan to discuss them in the class. You are also welcome to send your questions, comments, and/or suggestions via e-mail or raise them during the class or office hours. We appreciate your help and partnership in running the class and making it comfortable and meaningful for every member (see Purposes & Expectations: Filling out the biweekly feedback surveys).

Estimated class workload per week
Below is our rough estimation of students' workload per week (in hours) (we averaged time if work does not occur every week):

Type of students' engagement Time

Working with children (twice a week)

Debriefing on the site (twice a week) 1.0
Transportation to and from the site* (twice a week) 1.0

Writing your own field notes (once a week plus revisions)

Reading and commenting on other students' field notes 1.0
Participating in Web discussions 2.0

Reading for the class (40-50 pages per week)

Preparing for the final papers (on "average") 1.0

Attending classes (twice a week)

Visiting Instructor and TA in their office hours (on "average") 1.0
Total: 18.0

* Note: this type should not be counted as coursework.

Your biweekly feedback will probably help us to correct some of these numbers.

According to the guidelines of UCSC CEP (Committee on Educational Policy), 5 credit hours represent 3-3.5 hours of classwork plus about 12 hours of preparation; 2 credit hours represent 2 hours of classwork and about 4 hours of preparation. This totals about 21.5.

For comments and questions contact the Instructor Eugene Matusov.
1996. Last changed: January 20, 1997