The CRITICAL THINKING PROJECTS from which you may choose are:
1. A case study. Deborah Shore, aged 45, works for a small corporation in the Research and Development department. When she first became a member of the department 15 years ago, Deborah was an unusually creative and productive researcher; her efforts quickly resulted in raises and promotions within the department and earned her the respect of her colleagues. Now, Deborah finds herself less interested in doing research; she is no longer making creative contributions to her department, although she is making contributions to its administration. She is still respected by the coworkers who have known her since she joined the firm, but not by her younger coworkers.
Analyze the case study from the psychoanalytic, learning, and contextual perspectives: how would a theorist from each perspective explain Deborah’s development? Which perspective do you believe provides the most adequate explanation, and why?
2. Interview your mother (and grandmothers, if possible), asking about experiences with childbirth. Include your own experiences if you have had children. Write a paper summarizing these childbirth experiences and comparing them with the contemporary experiences described in the text.
3. Identify a “type” of parent (e.g., single parent, teenage parent, low-income parent, dual-career couple) who is most likely to be distressed because an infant has a “difficult” temperament. Explain why you believe that this type of parent would have particular problems with a difficult infant. Write an informational brochure for the selected type of parent. The brochure should include an explanation of temperament in general and of the difficult temperament in particular, and give suggestions for parents of difficult infants.
4. Plan an educational unit covering nutrition, health, and safety for use with preschoolers and kindergartners. Take into account young children’s cognitive and linguistic characteristics. The project should include (1) an outline of the content of the unit; and (2) a description of how the content would be presented, given the intellectual abilities of preschoolers. For example, how long would each lesson be? What kinds of pictures or other audiovisual materials would be used? How would this content be integrated with the children’s other activities in preschool or kindergarten?
5. Visit two day care centers and evaluate each center using the information from the text as a guide. Request a fee schedule from each center. Write a paper summarizing your evaluation of each center. Note: Unless you are an actual potential client of the center, contact the director beforehand to explain the actual purpose of the visit, obtain permission to visit, and schedule your visit so as to minimize disruption to the center’s schedule.
6. Watch some children’s television programs and advertising, examine some children’s toys and their packaging, read some children’s books, and listen to some children’s recordings, looking for evidence of sex-role socialization. Write a paper comparing these contemporary influences with those you remember from your own childhood, and discuss the implications of the differences and similarities you find.
7. Write a paper describing things your parents did to help you in school and anything your parents did that hindered you in school. If you have young brothers and/or sisters, include your parents’ influences on their education. Analyze your parents’ actions from the standpoint of the characteristics discussed in the text.
8. Write a paper summarizing the theoretical perspectives on identity presented in the textbook. Identify the perspective you find most acceptable, and justify your choice. Evaluate the information in light of your own development in adolescence.
9. A case study. Julie is a 40-year-old homemaker. Besides chauffeuring her very active 13-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter to school activities, maintaining the household, and providing emotional support to her husband (who is facing a stressful job situation), Julie cares for her 70-year-old widowed father. Her father had a stroke last year. After her father’s stroke, Julie dropped the two college courses she had been taking, so that she could visit him regularly in the hospital and help with his rehabilitation there. When he was released from the hospital, he moved into her home for an indefinite period. That seemed to be the only option other than a nursing home. Julie’s brother and sister live out of town and are unable to provide physical care for their father. It has now been several months since Julie’s father moved into her home. Julie is feeling overwhelmed as she tries to meet the needs of her father, her husband, and her children.
Write a paper discussing steps that could be taken to solve or prevent problems for Julie and possible pitfalls in taking these steps. Dimensions of the situation that you will want to consider include (1) finances, (2) health, (3) emotional functioning of individuals, and (4) relationships between family members.
10. Many colleges and universities allow older people to audit courses tuition-free. But–perhaps because the arrangement does not generate tuition–most institutions do not actively promote this option or encourage people to take advantage of it; the number of older people who actually enroll in such courses tends to be fairly low. Suppose that your college began taking aggressive and effective measures to encourage elderly people to enroll in courses, with the eventual result that around half of the students in most classes were 65 or older. Write a paper discussing two issues. First, how should instructors modify their teaching and their evaluation and testing procedures in response to this change in the student population, given the material in the text describing older adults’ cognitive performance and abilities? Second, how would classes be enriched by an increase in the proportion of older students, and how would classes suffer through such an increase?
11. Although most older people prefer to live independently in the community, and most are successful in doing so, institutional care is an essential option for an aging population. Some facilities are excellent, providing high-quality care, comfort, and intellectual and social stimulation. However, even in these excellent settings, there is probably some room for improvement. Develop a description of an ideal nursing home. Your description should include the approximate number of residents, the approximate number of staff members, the qualifications of the staff, the physical design of the facility, provisions for promoting contact between residents and the community, and activities offered within the facility.
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