03079 - Developmental Psychology

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Alessandra Sansavini

  • Credits 8

  • SSD M-PSI/04

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme Single cycle degree programme (LMCU) in Primary Teacher Education (cod. 5711)

    Also valid for Single cycle degree programme (LMCU) in Primary teacher education (cod. 8540)


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

Good health and well-being Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities

Academic Year 2023/2024

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 revisions 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. (2021). Psicologia dello Sviluppo (4^ ed.). Milano: McGraw-Hill, capitoli 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 13 pp. 505-511 e pp. 519-522. The volume is availble also in the digital version at the publisher's website. 

Berti A. E., Bombi A. S. (2018). Corso di Psicologia dello Sviluppo (4^ ed.). Bologna: Il Mulino, chapter 6 pp. 177-183, chapter 8 pp.263-269, and chapter 10 pp. 323-339. The book and single chapters are available also in the digital version at the publisher's website.

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 their own institutional 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:

Aureli, T., Perrucchini, P. (2014). Osservare e valutare il comportamento del bambino. Bologna: Il Mulino.

Barone L. (a cura di, 2019). Manuale di psicologia dello sviluppo. Roma: Carocci.

Belsky J. (2020). Psicologia dello sviluppo (2^ ed.). Bologna: Zanichelli.

Berti A. E., Bombi A. S. (2018). Corso di Psicologia dello Sviluppo. 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., Di Blasio, P. (2002). Psicologia dello sviluppo. Bologna: Il Mulino.

Gillibrand R., Lam V., O'Donnel V.L., Tallandini M.A. (2019). Psicologia dello sviluppo (2^ ed.). Milano: Pearson.

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

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

Shaffer, D. R. (2015). Psicologia dello sviluppo. Infanzia e adolescenza. Padova: Piccin.

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.

To complete the teaching, the professor uses the online virtual teaching platform to which students regularly enrolled in the course will be able to access using their institutional userid and password.

Assessment methods

The exam consists of a written test with 3 open questions concerning the topics covered in the texts.

For Erasmus or international students only: possibility to arrange an oral exam in Italian or English Language.

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 3 open questions can obtain a score of max 30 (max 10 for each answer). 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.

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 and a PC (to share during the lessons texts, slides, videos).

In addition, students are invited to access the virtual platform associated with the course where the professor will insert materials relating to the lessons, useful for preparing for the exam.

Office hours

See the website of Alessandra Sansavini