Developmental Psychology

PSYC 251/3.0

Introduction to the scientific study of human development, with an emphasis on social, cognitive, and neurobiological processes underlying perceptual, cognitive, and emotional development from infancy to adolescence.


Welcome to Psychology 251/3.0, a course designed to give you a general introduction to the field of Developmental Psychology. This course will cover both theories and research concerning infancy, childhood, and adolescence. It has three major learning objectives. First, by the end of the course you are expected to be able to describe the onset and changes in various behaviors. This is the "what" question in developmental research. Second, you are expected to examine and critically evaluate theories that have been developed to explain children’s behavior and age-related changes in that behavior. This is the "why" question in developmental research. Third, you are expected to learn how developmental psychologists actually conduct experiments as they attempt to describe developmental trends and assess developmental theories. This is the "how" question of developmental research.

Most developmental psychologists study infants, children, or adolescents. Our course reflects this bias. It also reflects the influence of biology, anthropology, computer science, sociology, and medicine in the field of developmental psychology. This will become apparent as you work your way through the textbook. I hope that you will find the course intellectually fascinating as well as useful to examine both your own assumptions and those of our culture about children and their development.


2 Midterm Tests20%
Science Report20%
Final Exam40%

You must write and pass the final exam in order to pass the course.


Topic 1Introduction and Biological Foundations of Development
Topic 2Theories of Cognitive Development
Topic 3Infancy
Topic 4Language and Symbolic Development
Topic 5Conceptual Development
Topic 6Intelligence
Topic 7Theories of Social Development
Topic 8Attachment Theory
Topic 9The Family
Topic 10The Influence of Peers
Topic 11Moral Development
Topic 12Gender Development


Dr. Fitneva received a magna cum laude bachelor's degree from Smith College in Cognitive Science and earned a doctoral degree in Psychology from Cornell University. Her work is in the areas of cognitive development and psycholinguistics. She is also interested in the relation between language, thought, and culture.

Time Commitment

A course such as this on campus would have three lecture hours per week. Students can expect to spend, on average, about 10 - 12 hours per week on the course.

Course Resources


SOLUS is Queen’s Student On-Line University System. You’ll have access to a SOLUS account once you become a Queen’s student. You’ll use SOLUS to register for courses, add and drop courses, update your contact information, view financial and academic information, and pay your tuition.


Moodle is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into Moodle to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the Moodle site.

About Credit Units

Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a good-quality computer (Windows XP/Vista/7, Pentium III, or Mac OS X 10.5, G4 or G5 processor, 256 MB RAM) with a high-speed internet connection, soundcard, speakers, and microphone, and up-to-date versions of free software (Explorer/Firefox, Java, Flash, Adobe Reader). See also Preparing For Your Course.


The deadlines for new applications to Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are in our Dates and Deadlines section.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for 2014-15 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Canadian students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $605.31; for a 6.0-unit course, $1210.62. See also Tuition and Payment.

Grading Scheme

The information below is intended for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Academic Regulations in other Faculties may differ.

Letter Grade Grade Point

GPA Calculators
Have your SOLUS grade report handy and then follow the link to the Arts and Science GPA calculators.

How does this affect my academics?
See the GPA and Academic Standing page.

Follow the link above for an explanation of how the GPA system affects such things as the Dean’s Honour List, requirements to graduate, and academic progression.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Grading Scheme
Please follow this link to the FAQ's

Campus Bookstore

All textbooks can be purchased at Queen’s Campus Bookstore.

Non-Queen’s Students

All Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are open to students at other universities. Before applying as a visiting student, request a Letter of Permission from your home university that states that you have permission to take the course and apply it to your degree. See also Apply.

Academic Integrity

Please see Queen’s policy statement on academic integrity for information on how to complete an online course honestly.