PSYC 6215/ DPSY 8215: Lifespan Development

PSYC 6215/ DPSY 8215: Lifespan Development

Children are a valuable population in society that scientists research and observe. When conducting research on a vulnerable population like children and minors, investigators will need to include additional steps to ensure the safety and protection of the children (Society for Research in Child Development [SRCD], 2012). Standard ethical principles must still be followed based on the APA Code of Ethics (American Psychological Association [APA], 2010).

A child or minor’s guardian will be required to offer consent as children are often assumed to be unable to understand the context to which they are consenting (Fisher & Vacanti-Shova, 2012). However, according to the SRCD (2012), if a child is old enough to understand and comprehend what is being asked, they should also give their consent to participate. Additionally, when obtaining consent from a child, investigators should ensure that the language being used is comprehensible to the child based on age, perceived cognitive abilities, and developmental level (Fisher & Vacanti-Shova, 2012).


In addition to consent, scientists should also ensure that there is a developed sense of honesty and trustworthiness throughout the study to ensure the safety and protection of the child and minors (SRCD, 2012). If scientists find any potential risks or potential harm to the participants in the study, scientists are required to find alternative and safer ways to obtain the information (APA, 2010; SRCD, 2012) PSYC 6215/ DPSY 8215: Lifespan Development.


American Psychological Association. (2017, January 1). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct.

Fisher, C. B., & Vacanti-Shova, K. (2012). The responsible conduct of psychological research: An overview of ethical principles, APA

Ethics Code standards, and federal regulations. In APA handbook of ethics in psychology, Vol 2: Practice, teaching, and research. (pp.    335–369). American Psychological Association.

Society for Research in Child Development. (2021, March). Ethical principles and standards for developmental scientists.

Week 1: Introduction to Human Development and Research

Life is simply a matter of concentration: you are what you set out to be. You are a composite of things you say, the books you read, the thoughts you think, the company you keep, and the things you desire to become.

—B.C. Forbes (1880–1954)

Scottish journalist

Welcome to the first week of Lifespan Development. Forbes presents a compelling quote, but he left out one part—the impact of biology. Have you thought about to what degree human development is the product of biology and genetics or the result of environmental factors? This week, you begin to investigate the “nature and nurture” topic and examine other concepts that frame lifespan development. You learn how these concepts form the basis of many lines of research in lifespan development. You also explore how and why the populations typically studied in developmental research are considered vulnerable and require particular ethical protections PSYC 6215/ DPSY 8215: Lifespan Development.

learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Analyze the role of ethics in developmental psychology research related to vulnerable populations
  • Analyze developmental concepts as applied to the life of an individual (assessed in Week 10)

Learning Resources

Required Readings

Berk, L. E. (2018). Development through the lifespan (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

  • Chapter 1, “History, Theory, and Research Strategies” (beginning of chapter to “Scientific Beginnings”; and “Studying Development” to end of chapter)

American Psychological Association. (2020). Scholarly writing and publishing principles. In Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).

  • Read only (p. 10–23)

Required Media

Harris, N. B. (Producer). (2014). How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime [Video file]. Retrieved August 26, 2016, from


Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 16 minutes.

Discussion: Research and Ethics in Psychology

Developmental psychology attempts to understand cognitive, physical, and social-emotional development throughout the lifespan. In order to understand, for example, how maternal stress during pregnancy might impact the child later in life, pregnant women and children could be studied. Vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, newborns, children, cognitively impaired individuals, incarcerated individuals, or older adults, require additional consideration and protection when planning to conduct research with them.

When conducting research in the field of human development, particularly with vulnerable populations, it is important to keep in mind that a unique set of ethical considerations should be taken into account. These populations need extra care to ensure their rights because some individuals may lack the mental capacity to give informed consent, may have decreased free will, or may be vulnerable in terms of their physical or mental welfare. As you approach this Discussion, keep in mind how ethical considerations might have affected the type of research that could be conducted.

For this Discussion, you will examine the role of ethics in developmental psychology research as it relates to vulnerable populations PSYC 6215/ DPSY 8215: Lifespan Development.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Review the example of a Discussion post and response found in this week’s Learning Resources as well as the Discussion Rubric to understand the Discussion’s expectations.
  • Review the Learning Resources related to ethics and research in the field of developmental psychology
  • Choose a population from the following:
    • Children
    • Women who are pregnant
    • Geriatric individuals
    • Individuals with cognitive disabilities
    • Adolescents

By Day 4

Based on the population you selected, post an explanation of the role of ethics in developmental psychology research with attention to the characteristics of this vulnerable population. Be specific in your post and use the Learning Resources to support your post. Use proper APA format and citations to support your explanation.

By Day 6

Respond to a post from at least one of your colleagues who selected a population different from that of your Discussion post and add one additional ethical consideration.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting and respond to any questions. Note what you have learned and/or any insights that you have gained as a result of your colleagues’ comments.

Submission and Grading Information

Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:

Week 1 Discussion Rubric

Post by Day 4 and Respond by Day 6

To participate in this Discussion:

Week 1 Discussion

Assignment: Final Project Overview

The purpose of this Final Project Assignment is for you to recognize human development and outcomes (e.g., developmental constructs, processes, milestones, and stages) through the lifespan of an influential person. You will describe this person’s development through cognitive, physical, and social-emotional processes at various key periods, and how his or her development is influenced by nature (genetics), nurture (environment), or both PSYC 6215/ DPSY 8215: Lifespan Development.

For this Final Project Assignment, you will read a biography about an individual of your choosing. Think about leaders, artists, composers, researchers, professors, and otherwise influential people, etc. The person you choose should be someone who has had an impact (positive or negative) on others and/or on society.

This Final Project Assignment is a 6- to 8-page paper composed of three parts. These parts include: the Summary during Week 2, Part 1 during Week 7, and the Final Project submission during Week 10. Note: It is recommended that you begin reviewing the biography you chose starting at Week 2 and plan your time accordingly.

For this week, you will review the Final Project Assignment Overview document and consider an influential person you would like to learn more about.

To prepare for this Final Project Assignment:

  • Review the Final Project Assignment Overview document found in this week’s Learning Resources.
  • Select a biography, not an autobiography, of an influential person. Your selection must be one person and not a group of individuals.
  • The biography should be written for adults and not children and cover the entire life of the individual.
  • You must use an actual hardcover/paperback book or ebook (Note: Using or other websites as primary sources of information is not acceptable).
  • You must include at least two theories from this course in your Final Project Assignment and discuss at least two of the three developmental processes (cognitive, physical, and social-emotional).

No Assignment submission due this week.

Submit your Final Project Assignment in Week 10.

Week in Review

This week, you analyzed the role of ethics in developmental psychology research as it relates to vulnerable populations. Also, you reviewed the Final Project Assignment for this course and selected a biography of an influential person to begin analyzing developmental concepts as they would apply to the life of this individual.

To end this week, your Instructor may provide a brief summary. Be sure to access the Faculty Corner to review your Instructor’s summary, which will help you focus on the important aspects of this week’s learning.


Next week, you will examine cognitive, physical, and social-emotional developmental processes specific to a period of a character’s life. You also will determine the impact of diversity on those developmental processes. For your Final Project, you will provide a brief summary of the individual and the biography you selected PSYC 6215/ DPSY 8215: Lifespan Development.

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