Psych 60: Intro to Developmental Psychology

Fall 2015: 10:30 - 11:50 T, Th

Rm 420-040

Michael Frank (Instructor) - 420-278 - office hours


Send all class-related questions to:

Send in-class assignments to:

Teaching Assistants:

Natalie Colich - 420-169 - office hours

Kyle MacDonald - 420-290 - office hours

Kara Weisman - 420-290 - office hours

Course Goals                

Psych 60A: Early childhood observation. This is an optional – but highly recommended – 2-unit course that can be taken concurrently with Psychology 60. Students in Psychology 60A will spend a total of about 30 hours during the quarter observing, thinking about, and writing short papers about preschool children at Bing Nursery School. Psych 60A is a great opportunity to see firsthand some of the phenomena we will be talking about in class and to deepen your understanding of human development.

Psych 60B: 3-unit version of the course with reduced writing requirements. Psych 60 is a Writing in the Major (WIM) course for psychology. Students in Psych 60B will only complete the midterm and final assignments. They will not write the final paper or be required to attend sections.



Sections are mandatory for students in 60 (not 60B). Please sign up on axess.

Week 2 (9/28): Reading a scientific paper - read this before section.

Week 3 (10/5): Summarizing and citing empirical evidence - read this before section.

Week 4 (10/12): Writing an abstract - read this before section.

Week 5 (10/19): Developing an outline for your argument

Week 6 (10/26): Writing a critical assessment, part 1

Week 7 (11/1): Writing a critical assessment, part 2 - read this before section

Week 8 (11/9): Composing a well-structured paragraph - read this before section

Week 9 (11/16): Writing a good sentence

There are no makeups for missed sections, but handouts are available at the links above.

Materials. Lecture attendance is mandatory. Lectures will cover the bulk of the course material, presenting lots of information not found in the papers. Lecture slides will be posted after class each day, but reading lecture slides is only a partial substitute for attendance – they will often be terse and difficult to interpret without having listened to the actual lecture. Each lecture is accompanied by a primary scientific paper (linked below). Please read this in time for the lecture – we will be discussing it and it will be very helpful for you to have read it beforehand.


Bing Nursery School Tour. All students are required to take a tour of Stanford’s Bing Nursery School during the second or third week of class. Please sign up for a tour by 9/28. Attendance will be taken and counted towards the participation grade.



Psych 60 breakdown: in-class assignments + bing tour (10%), section (15%), midterm (15%), final (20%), paper outline (5%), paper draft (10%), final paper (25%)

Psych 60B breakdown: in-class assignments + bing tour (20%), midterm (35%), final (45%)


  1. In-class / section activities – There will be in-class assignments given out from in lecture and section. They are not quizzes: They are intended to get you thinking, rather than to evaluate your knowledge. We won’t be grading them but it is critical that you turn something in to get credit. You can’t make these up, but we will forgive one missing assignment. Bing tour attendance is included in this section of the course.
  2. Midterm exam – The midterm exam will be on 11/5 and will consist of multiple choice and short answer questions covering the material (lectures and readings) up to the Morality lecture on 10/29. A review session will be held 11/4 from 7 - 8:30 pm in 380-380Y.
  3. Final exam – The final exam will cover all the material in the course (including both lectures and readings), and will be similar in format to the midterm. A sample final from a previous year is available here, with an answer key here. A review session will be held Tuesday, 12/8 from 6 - 8 pm in 380-380Y.
  4. Final paper - 1 page outline due 11:59pm Sunday, 10/25; initial submission due 11:59pm Sunday, 11/15; final revised submission due 11:59pm Sunday, 12/6. Source papers here. An example of a short paper with good argumentation and use of evidence (for a substantively different assignment from a previous year) is here, annotated with some comments on writing style.

Course Schedule

All readings available here, slides are available here, our youtube playlist is here. If you want to take notes on a decent version of the slides, you can see last year’s slides here.

Sept 22 - Introduction - Saffran, Aslin, & Newport (1996) - Nativism/Empiricism (Bing visit)


Sept 24 - Perceptual and motor development - Adolph (2000) - Manipulation and measure (HWC visit)

Sept 29 - Perceiving the physical world - Wynn (1992) - Habituation

Oct 1 - Bonding with people - Johnson, Dweck, & Chen (2007) - Attachment

Oct 6 - Perceiving the social world - Gergely et al. (2002) - Core Knowledge        

Oct 8 - Foundations of language - Kuhl (2004) - Perceptual narrowing - Baby visit

Early Childhood

Oct 13 - Causality - Gweon & Schulz (2011) - Causal learning

Oct 15 - Exploration and play - Gopnik (2012) - Learning From Play

Oct 20 - Word learning - Markson & Bloom (1997) - Production vs. comprehension

Oct 22 - Grammar, symbols, and communication - Deloache (1987) - Syntactic Structure

        Outline due 10/25

Oct 27 - Theory of mind - Southgate et al. (2007) - Theory of Mind - Preschooler visit

Oct 29 - Morality - Warneken & Tomasello (2006) - Morality vs. conventionality

Later Childhood and Adolescence

Nov 3 - Brain development - Johnson (2001) - Maturation/plasticity

Nov 4 - Review Session, 7PM, 380-380Y        

Nov 5 - Midterm Exam - 420-040 (same room as the class)

Nov 10 - Self-control - Diamond & Lee (2011) - Executive Function

Nov 12 - Race, gender, and social groups - Baron & Banaji (2006) - Implicit/explicit bias

        Paper first submission due 11/15

Nov 17 - Friendship and bullying - Asher & Paquette (2003) - Social network - Toddler visit

Nov 19 - Education (visit from Jenni Martin, Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose) - Lillard & Else-Quest (2006) - Cognitive prerequisites

Dec 1 - Developmental disorders - Jones & Klin (2013) - Randomized controlled trial

Dec 3 - How development shapes who we are - Nelson et al. (2007) - Developmental cascade

        Paper final submission due 12/6

Review Session, Tuesday Dec 8th, 6 - 8 PM in 380-380Y (Math Corner)

Final Exam: Thursday December 10th, 12:15 – 3:15 PM in 420-040 (our normal classroom)

Other Policies.

Late Policy: All assignment are due by 11:59pm on Sunday nights. One-half of one letter grade will be subtracted from the assigned grade for each day any assignment is submitted late. So if an assignment is turned in on Monday and would have received an A, it will receive an A-. Extensions for emergencies will only be given with documentation from a residence dean.

Honor Code: Please familiarize yourself with Stanford’s honor code, available on the judicial affairs website. We will adhere to it and follow through on its penalty guidelines.

Students with Documented Disabilities: Students who may need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a disability must initiate the request with the Office of Accessible Education (OAE). Professional staff will evaluate the request with required documentation, recommend reasonable accommodations, and prepare an Accommodation Letter for faculty for the quarter in which the request is made. Students should contact the OAE as soon as possible since timely notice is needed to coordinate accommodations.

Writing: Philosophy, Feedback, and Getting Help.

Goal of Writing in the Major: We want to help students improve their expository writing, especially the kinds of writing we do as working psychologists. To that end, our paper assignment focuses on the summary, analysis, and synthesis of empirical articles. One part of the writing process is learning to respond to feedback. Your paper will be submitted first in outline and then twice as a full manuscript. Your TA will return your outline and initial submission to you with comments that you should address in your revision. Even if the initial submission fulfills the basic assignment criteria, work to address your comments. Everyone can write better, and you are no exception.                

Help with Writing: The Hume Writing Center (HWC) works with Stanford students taking WIM classes. In free one-to-one sessions, trained HWC writing consultants help students brainstorm and get started on assignments; learn strategies for revising, editing, and proofreading; and improve organization, flow, and argumentation. Students can make an appointment with a lecturer or advanced graduate student consultant or drop in to meet with an undergraduate peer tutor. For further information, to see hours and locations, or to schedule an appointment, visit the HWC website.

License. Feel free to use these materials in other contexts, as long as you give proper attribution. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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