Developmental Psychology Paper

Imagine you are a Developmental Psychologist and you are reviewing new information about a developmental topic (e.g., delay of gratification, corporal punishment, gender-typed behavior, racial inequalities).  In this paper, you will review empirical evidence about that topic and relate the evidence to concepts discussed in class.  The purpose of this paper is for you to apply developmental concepts to empirical literature and practice reading/summarizing the developmental literature.


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This paper is to be written as a formal review of the evidence and should be approximately 3 to 4 pages.  You may either write this paper as a review of a topic (e.g., the research on spanking claims) or write it as an argumentative paper using the evidence to support your claim (e.g., spanking is not the best because…).  If you do choose to write an argumentative paper, remember that not all topics will have a correct yes/no answer and the goal of the paper is to use the evidence to support your claim.


Review the articles provided in Blackboard under the Developmental Paper tab.  Pick one article to summarize in your paper.  Thoroughly read the article and then write your paper including the information below.  It will also be helpful to review information we have covered in class, particularly Chapter 1.

Section 1: Introduction and Explanation of Importance (1 – 1 ½ pages)

  • In your own words and in several sentences, explain and/or define developmental psychology. Provide more than just the textbook definition.  What is the purpose of studying something using the developmental perspective?
  • In several sentences (i.e., 3 minimum), explain how your topic/question relates to developmental psychology. If you are writing an argumentative paper, clearly define your stance on the issue.  In other words, are you going to support or refute the claim?  Why is this topic important to study in developmental psychology?  Hint, review the information provided in your textbook regarding your overall topic and include some of that information in your paper.
  • Explain how your topic is related to at least one of Paul Baltes’ life-span perspective components (i.e., lifelong; multidimensional; multidirectional; plastic; multidisciplinary; contextual; growth, maintenance, regulation of loss; and/or co-construction of biological, culture, and the individual) or a developmental issue (i.e., nature-nurture, stability-change, continuity-discontinuity). Define the components/issue and make sure to explain how and why your topic is related to it in several sentences.  Simply mentioning the component/issue will not be sufficient to earn full credit.  Provide specific examples if possible.
  • Throughout section 1 (i.e., you should cite your source multiple times), use and cite an appropriate source (i.e., your textbook/powerpoint or a peer reviewed academic journal article found through the Wake Tech library website). Wikipedia, Psychology Today, and Simply Psychology are not examples of academic sources.  Points will be lost for using non-academic sources.

Section 2: Summary of Article (1 ½ pages – 2 pages)

  • Introduce the article (using in-text citations) and provide the following information:
    • Background information to help the reader understand the research. For instance, why was (were) the researcher(s) interested in this topic?
    • What is a specific example of results/conclusions from previous research?
    • What were the hypotheses or goals/aims of the research? Be direct in your wording (e.g., the hypotheses were or the aims of this research were).
    • Hint: This information is found in the introduction section of the article.
  • Summarize the method of the article, including, but not limited to:
    • Describe the participants (i.e., number of participants, ages, how they were recruited, and other important information for this research), design (i.e., descriptive, correlational, or an experiment), and time span (i.e., cross-sectional, longitudinal, or cross-sequential approach).
    • Describe the method/procedure: How did the researchers collect their data?
    • Describe the measures and/or manipulation: Include a description of surveys/questions if they were used or the treatment versus control group for an experiment.
      • You should mention every measurement used (e.g., Big 5 Survey, attachment procedure). However, if the researcher(s) used more than 3 measurements, you should only describe in detail 3 of the measurements and mention others were included in the study.
    • Summarize the results as pertains to your topic, including, but not limited to:
      • Were the hypotheses supported and/or were the goals/aims met?
      • In several sentences, what were the main findings of the study?
      • You do not have to summarize the statistics, but you should be able to provide a brief summary of what the statistics indicate [Hint, refer to the discussion section of the paper].
    • Describe any limitations that were either identified by the researcher(s) or that you identified (e.g., did the authors suggest causation from correlational data? Was the sample limited to only one ethnicity, age, or gender?).  Why does this matter?  How does this influence the results of your study?  Specify how these limitations might limit/support your argument (e.g., due to these limitations, we cannot concluded that…).  Make sure to clearly label the limitations in your paper (e.g., “The limitations of this study were…”).

Section 3: Conclusion and Integration (½ page)

  • Provide a concluding remark. In other words, if you were going to give this article a two sentence conclusion, what would that be?  What do the results broadly tell us?  Were the conclusions from the empirical study strong enough to make a definitive claim about this topic?  Or, were there too many limitations to make a strong claim, meaning that more research is needed?  Be careful not to use the word prove in this section.  Findings from one article cannot prove anything!
  • Make sure to relate the conclusions to developmental psychology. How do the results (not just the topic in general as discussed before) impact/relate to the field of developmental psychology?  A suggestion here is to bring in new (i.e., not discussed in your introduction) specific topics, key terms, experiments, etc. from the chapter material.

The Fine Print (APA Formatting and Writing/Page Length):

  • APA formatting is expected in this paper, including but not limited to the following. Please review the sample paper in Blackboard for additional information:
    • Page numbers (upper right corner).
    • Text should be double spaced, Times New Roman size 12 font, and aligned to the left side of the page.
    • Paper should have 1 inch margins and no extra space between paragraphs. Hint, review the paragraph “spacing” under the “page layout” settings.
    • In-text citations are required and must be in APA format.
    • A reference page is required and must be in APA format.
      • Reference page does not count towards 1 of the 3 to 4 pages.
      • Only include the citation on the reference page if you also cite the information in the text.
      • Hint, citation in Part 3 of your syllabus is sufficient for your textbook.
    • Title page and abstract are not required for this paper.
  • Writing/Page Length
    • Avoid including your opinion in this paper. Instead, use the evidence and research to describe your topic.
    • Sentences and paragraphs should flow throughout the paper and be appropriate for college level writing.
    • Given that the research has already been conducted, you should summarize the article in past tense.
    • Paper should be approximately 3 to 4 pages. Shorter/longer papers will have point deductions (see rubric).

Grammar and Spelling:

Given that this is a college level course, it is expected that you will proofread your paper for spelling, basic grammar mistakes, typographical errors, and complete sentences.  Additionally, your paper should not include contractions per APA guidelines for formal papers (e.g., can’t; it’s; they’re).  I will not take off points for the first mistake found.  Thereafter, however, I may deduct points from your final grade per mistake found.

Other Important Information:

  • Plagiarism will not be tolerated! Refer to the information in your syllabus regarding the penalties and definitions of plagiarism.  APA guidelines should be followed for in-text citations and references.  Failure to reference ideas that are the intellectual property of another constitutes plagiarism.  Students can also not turn in work submitted for a grade in another class.  Work that is not original for this class, even if it is your own work, will also be considered (self) plagiarism.
  • I have posted numerous helpful resources in Blackboard that can be accessed through the “Developmental Paper” and “Course Resources” tabs. Take advantage of these resources and let me know if you have any questions.
  • Wake Tech has resources such as the ILC and SSRC to help with your writing!
  • Not reviewing an article posted in Blackboard will result in zero points for sections 2 and 3 of the paper.
  • When I state to use several sentences, my general expectation is that at least 3 sentences are needed in order to earn full credit. I will not count exact sentences in the paper since students have different writing styles and sentences can dramatically vary in length, but that is a good ‘rule of thumb’ to go by.

How to Turn In Paper:

You are required to submit this paper in Blackboard in Word format.  Papers not matching these guidelines will not be accepted.  Refer to your syllabus for the paper deadline.

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