Education 368:  Cognitive Development


Spring Quarter, 2009


MW 11:00-12:30


Professor Kenji Hakuta

Office hours (Cubberley 228):  Tuesday 10:00-11:00 or by appointment





This course is a survey of the broad field of cognitive development from the perspective of education and the learning sciences.  Understanding cognitive development is essential for curriculum development, teacher preparation and professional development, effective instruction, and good education policy.  While the course will focus mainly on readings from basic topics in cognitive development, discussion will assume that the student is interested in its educational applications.  The course also expects students to have familiarity with basic concepts and issues in psychology and its related research methodologies.


Students are expected to actively engage in class discussions and in doing class projects around the readings.  For each week, students are expected to read at least one primary source research article beyond the assigned reading that is referenced in the readings.  Alternatively, they may identify a newer or different article, but still on the topic of the readings for the week.  Students should come to class with a quad chart of the article that describes the article’s (1) theory and methodology, (2) findings, and (3) a strength and weakness analysis. The fourth quad should have a graph or picture representing the key insight from the paper.  These assignments will be collected and will make up 50% of the final grade.  They will also be shared with the class through a webpage.


A final paper for the course should take a significant problem in education, and should address how our understanding of cognitive development sheds light on it (30% of the final grade).


Class participation will count toward 20% of the final grade.



Required Text:


Goswami, U.  Blackwell  Handbook of Childhood Cognitive Development.  Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004.


  Click for Quad Charts


April 1:  Introduction to cognitive development from a historical perspective.


April 6:  Piaget’s influence.


Piaget, J.  Origins of Intelligence in Children.  Introduction:  The Biological Problem of Intelligence.  New York : International Universities Press. .


Smith, L. Piaget’s model.  In Goswami.


April 8:  Vygotsky.


Rowe, S. & Wertsch, J.  Vygotsky’s model of cognitive development.  In Goswami.


Vygotsky, L. S.  Thought and Language.  Chapter 4:  The Genetic Roots of Thought and Speech.  MIT Press:  1986. .


April 13-15  No class:  AERA


April 20:  Chomskyan rationalism.


Pinker, S.  Language acquisition.


April 22:  Topical Approach:  Scientific Reasoning


Lehrer, R. & Schauble, L., Scientific thinking and science literacy.  In W. Damon (ed.)  Handbook of Child Psychology, vol. 4. .


April 27:  Topical Approach:  Mathematical Thinking


DeCorte, E. & Verschaffel, L.  Mathematical thinking and learning.  In W. Damon (ed.)  Handbook of Child Psychology, vol. 4. .


April 29:  Topical Approach:  Literacy and Bilingualism


Snow, C.  & Kang, J. Y.  Becoming bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural.  In W. Damon (ed.)  Handbook of Child Psychology, vol. 4. .



May 4:  Infancy:  the physical world and categorization.


Baillargeon, R.  The acquisition of physical knowledge in infancy: A summary in eight lessons.  In Goswami.


Quinn, P.  Early categorization: A new synthesis.  In Goswami.


May 6:  Early Language and Memory development.


Waxman, S.  Early word-learning and conceptual development: Everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought.  In Goswami.


Bauer, P.  Early memory development.  In Goswami.


May 11:  Emotions, self and agency.


Meltzoff, A.  Imitation as a mechanism of social cognition:  Origins of empathy, theory of mind, and the representation of action.  In Goswami.


Gergely, G.  The development of understanding self and agency.  In Goswami.


May 13:  Animate-inanimate distinction in early development.


Gelman, S. & Opfer, J.  Development of the animate-inanimate distinction.  In Goswami.


May 18:  Theory of mind.


Wellman, H. Understanding the psychological world: Developing a theory of mind.  In Goswami.


May 20:  Symbolism and memory.


DeLoache, J. Early development of the understanding and use of symbolic artifacts.  In Goswami.


Schneider, W. Memory development in childhood.  In Goswami.


May 27:  Reasoning


Koslowski, B. & Masnick, A.  The development of causal reasoning.  In Goswami.


Goswami, U.  Inductive and deductive reasoning.  In Goswami.


June 1:  Spatial development.


Liben, L.  Spatial development in childhood: Where are we now?  In Goswami.


June 6:  Return to Scientific Thinking


Wilkening, F. & Huber, S.  Children’s intuitive physics.  In Goswami.

Kuhn, D.  What is scientific thinking, and how does it develop?  In Goswami.