03079 - Developmental Psychology

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

No poverty Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

After having attended the course students will have acquired a good knowledge of: - the main theories of psychological development in its main aspects: motor, perceptual, communicative-linguistic, cognitive, emotional and relational; - the developmental phases of the above aspects from prenatal life to school age; - the methods and observational tools of children's behavior; - the strategies apt to cope with the complexity of relationships among children, teachers, and parents; -modalities to plan educational-didactic paths aiming at supporting children's psychological development taken into account the continuity between preschool and school age and the relevance of collaborating with the family; - the use of psychological references in order to cope with the issues raised by working in educational and school contexts.

Course contents

The course illustrates the development of motor, perceptual, communicative, linguistic, emotional, cognitive and learning competences, focusing on changes that occur during pre-and post-natal, infancy, preschool and school age till adolescence. The course explains the factors contributing to these changes and the processes underlying them. Classic theories, i.e. those of Piaget, Vygotskij, and Bowlby and criticisms and innovations made by some contemporary theoretical positions will be presented. Experimental and observational evidences, taken from different contexts (family, school, laboratory), regarding each of the theories presented will be discussed.


References for preparing the exam:

Santrock J. W. (2017). Psicologia dello Sviluppo (3rd ed). Milano: McGraw-Hill, chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 13.

Berti A. E., Bombi A. S. (2013). Corso di Psicologia dello Sviluppo. Bologna: Il Mulino, pp. 281-296.

A summary of the topics presented during the lectures will be available on the online platform that students regularly registered for this course can access with thei oown instittutional userid and password.

The Santrock volume is linked to its own online platform where the students can make exercises and practice multiple choice questions. The code to access this platform is inside the Santrock volume.

Optional work of in-depth study
Students have the possibility, if they are interested in it, to carry out a work of in-depth study of a topic by agreeing it with the professor. The professor will explain how to prepare this work at the beginning of the course.

Other texts of developmental psychology available for the understanding of the covered topics:

Barone L. (a cura di, 2009). Manuale di psicologia dello sviluppo. Roma: Carocci.

Belsky J. (2009). Psicologia dello sviluppo. Bologna: Zanichelli.

Berti A. E., Bombi A. S. (2001). Psicologia dello sviluppo. I. Storia, teorie e metodi. Bologna: Il Mulino.

Bruner, J. (1996). La cultura dell'educazione. Edizione it. 2004. Milano: Feltrinelli.

Butterworth, G., Harris, M. (1998). Fondamenti di psicologia dello sviluppo. Hove, Sussex: Psychology Press. Ed. italiana a cura di A. Sansavini, presso libreria Bonomo, Via Zamboni, Bologna.

Camaioni, L., Aureli, T., Perucchini, P. (2004). Osservare e valutare il comportamento infantile. Bologna: Il Mulino.

Camaioni, L., Di Blasio, P. (2002). Psicologia dello sviluppo. Bologna: Il Mulino.

Gillibrand R., Lam V., O'Donnel V.L., Tallandini M.A. (2013). Psicologia dello sviluppo. Milano: Pearson.

Miller, P. H. (2011). Teorie dello sviluppo psicologico (5th edition). Bologna: Il Mulino.

Schaffer, H. R. (1998). Lo sviluppo sociale. Milano: Cortina.

Teaching methods

Teaching takes place through frontal lessons, alternating with moments of discussion and reflection with students on the topics presented in the frontal lessons. In order to achieve terminological, conceptual and methodological mastery of the topics and its applications in the field of education, the frequency of lessons is highly recommended.

Assessment methods

The exam consists of a written test that lasts 1h20 and consists of: 2 open questions (1h) and 16 closed questions with four multiple choices each (20 minutes) on all the topics covered in the texts. 

The examination aims to assess:
- Organic knowledge of the subjects exposed in the texts and and during the lessons;
- Precise knowledge of the specific terminology used in the texts;
- Ability to make connections among the topics covered by the texts and the reference material under study;

- Ability to apply the acquired knowledge to observation and planning in educational and didactic contexts.

The final score will be max 30 out of 30. The answers to the 2 open questions can obtain a score of max 14 (max 7 for each answer). The 16 multiple choice questions can obtain a score of max 16 (1 for each correct answer, wrong and missing answers will not be penalized). The facultative work can obtain a score of max 2.

The deepened and complete knowledge of the topics of the program, expressive mastery with analytical and synthesis skills and specific language for the discipline, and the ability to reflect on the application of the acquired knowledge for observation and planning in educational and didactic contexts will be evaluated with excellent evaluation. The mnemonic knowledge of the topics of the program, a correct but not articulated expression of the concepts and / or a language not always specific for the discipline, and a mechanical reflection on the application of the acquired knowledge for observation and planning in educational and didactic contexts will lead to discrete evaluation; a not deepened knowledge of the topics of the program with some gaps and / or with a language not specific to the discipline and the lack of reflection on the application of the knowledge acquired for observation and planning in educational and didactic contexts will lead to a just sufficient evaluation. A very poor knowledge of the topics of the program with significant gaps, non-specific language for the discipline and lack of orientation and reflection with respect to the study materials and the transfer of this knowledge for observation and planning in educational and didactic contexts will lead to insufficient evaluation.

In case of failure, the student can repeat the exam but not twice sequentially in the same session of examination.

The student is required to complete the online registration (Almaesami) within the terms in order to be admitted to the exam. In case of technical problems the student is required to promptly contact the Segreteria Studenti and email prof. Sansavini (within the terms) who will consider the request and decide about the admission.


Teaching tools

Lessons will be accompanied by the use of a video-projector, a PC and a video-recorder (to share during the lessons texts, slides, videos).

Office hours

See the website of Alessandra Sansavini