In this course, we dive into the topic of child development. You will learn that child development is complex and is influenced by a surprisingly rich number of factors at many different levels of organization. You will see that development can be studied in various domains and at various levels of understanding, from different angles and disciplines. Importantly, you will come to understand that processes within and between the various domains and levels of organization continuously interact to shape development. This implies that understanding development requires taking an interdisciplinary approach.
In order to help you organize your thinking about this complexity you will learn more about the developmental systems approach and theories related to that. We will look, amongst other things, at the brain and motor development, cognitive, language and social-emotional development and all the factors that have an influence on development.
To illustrate how an interdisciplinary approach helps to understand child development you will see how researchers from various disciplines and backgrounds study child development at Utrecht University. These scientists will give a look in their field of knowledge and their collaboration with colleagues, to illustrate how the theory you will learn translates to practice.
In sum, we invite you to follow us on a journey to understand child development from synapse to society!
Introduction to Dynamics of Youth
After a general introduction to this MOOC, this week focuses on the developmental systems approach to understand development. We will illustrate how such an approach can be facilitated by introducing you to Dynamics of Youth, a strategic research theme of Utrecht University set up to foster interdisciplinary research on child and adolescent development.
Brain and motor development
In the first week of this course, we explained the developmental systems approach and introduced you to Dynamics of Youth as an example of how this approach can be adopted in practice. Now it is time to dive into child development itself. This week, we will be focusing on two domains of development: the brain and motor control.
This week we will focus on cognitive development and how this affects how children think and act. You will see that information from the previous week, in which we discussed the development of the brain and motor skills, can be used to understand cognitive development.
This week’s focus is on communication. As you will see, language development is tightly interwoven with cognitive development and as such is also closely related to brain and motor development.
In this fifth week of the course, we will pay attention to social-emotional development.
The big picture
In this final week of this course, you will be challenged to fit it all together and see the big picture.