A Life-Span Developmental Assessment course was created and is being offered to psychology graduate students this Fall 05. This course is designed to provide an overview of assessment techniques and instruments (cognitive, social-emotional, and adaptive functioning) using a life-span developmental perspective. The course is organized in a chronological format progressing through the stages of the life-span. Moving from infancy to older adulthood, students read literature on and review key assessment techniques and instruments, focusing on the uses and the general interpretation of the instruments. The course also focuses on discussion of related theories of development and current issues, trends, and applications of these assessment techniques and instruments across the life-span.
The specific course goals are as follows:
- Learn the uses and general interpretation of several key instruments assessing cognitive, social-emotional, and adaptive functioning at each stage of the life-span.
- Become a sophisticated consumer of the psychological information that can be derived from assessment reports and understand how to make the best use of that information.
- Link assessment techniques and instruments to normative developmental issues and theories at each stage of the life-span.
- Appreciate the role of developmental assessment in pinpointing areas of strength and challenges, identifying needs for services, and evaluating the success of interventions.
- Understand and explore the diversity of assessment approaches, especially in regard to infants and young children.
Assessment materials purchased through the grant funds have been presented and taught in the various lectures.
The course includes several applied activities that are designed to foster partnerships with community partners. For example, students can select an applied assignment with a young child in coordination with the VCU Child Development Center. We have also made connections with the Virginia Treatment Center for Children, the VCU Training and Technical Assistance Center, and the Gerontology Department on the Medical Campus. Our goal is to translate these connections and applied activities into more formal service learning opportunities. Some students have also made connections to various agencies focusing on an area of interest to them (e.g., through applied assignments).
Updated materials were purchased for the Stanford-Binet 5th edition and the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children-II. The course syllabus and course lectures were revised to include this updated material.
Nine psychology graduate students are currently enrolled in the Life-Span Developmental Assessment course including two Clinical Psychology students and seven Developmental Psychology students. This course meets the applied course requirement for the Developmental Psychology program. This course provides an additional assessment course option for psychology graduate students, the only one to include a focus on infants and toddlers. A long-term goal for the course is for it to count toward the applied assessment requirements for clinical and counseling students. This could reduce burden for faculty members teaching other child clinical assessment courses.
- It has provided me experience in collaborating with faculty across several graduate programs in psychology to develop a course that meets the needs of students from the developmental, counseling, and clinical departments.
- It has provided me experience in networking with faculty members from a several developmental psychology programs across the county (e.g., University of Maryland, College Park) who not only provided examples of developmental assessment courses from their universities but also gave great advice for shaping this course.
- It has provided me with hands on experience in developing a new course from the ground up.
- For developmental psychology, this course fulfills the applied course requirement. A long-term goal is for this course to also fulfill the applied assessment requirement for clinical and counseling students.
- This is a course that I have been excited about putting together and draws on my clinical and assessment experiences. I would like to continue to shape and develop this course which will hopefully be offered either yearly or on an every other year basis.
Although I do not anticipate any article or paper publications, I would like to pursue writing a text book based on the material covered in class. In Developmental Psychology, we have excellent Life-Span Development texts but none that we could find that focus on a Life-Span Approach to normative Developmental Assessment.
I would like to continue to develop the service learning aspect of the class and keep up with the latest assessment techniques and tools and could see applying for additional funding to build these areas.
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