Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2023

Course Description

Developmental Theories in Education addresses the relationship between psychology and education through a broad study of theories of teaching and learning. While traditional educational psychology courses focus on theories of development and learning, as well as applications of these theories to educational spaces, this course will explore the broader context out of which such theories emerged and the critical implications of such theories for the political, social, and cultural nature of education today. We will spend some time grappling with the tradition of developmental theory, but more time will be spent unpacking that tradition and studying more contemporary theories of knowledge and experience that offer critical interpretations and additions to that tradition. In the process, each student will complete four field experiences through which these varied theories can be differently studied. As a core introductory course in Education Studies, this course is also guided by the department’s mission and goals of cultivating critical educators, transformative intellectuals, and public pedagogues. We will work together to more deeply understand these concepts as they implicate the very possibility of learning, teaching, and growing as subjects who are always a part of education.

Student Outcomes

In spending time within the field of developmental studies and psychology, and in critically challenging the dominant stories it tells about education, students who take this course will be able to: - Describe the differences between the so-called “tradition” of developmental theory as a discipline and Critical Educational Psychology; - Explain the context out of which these theories emerged historically and culturally; - Analyze the strengths and weakness of these theories for understanding and addressing the political, social, and cultural tensions inherent to education, both informal and formal, in the United States today, and; - Develop/expand theoretical tools and historical understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of teaching, learning, and participating in education.