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PSYC 3451: Adolescent Development

Continuing from PSYC 3151: Developmental Psychology of Children, students examine the adolescent years, In addition to the general theoretical issues and methods of studying development, the course presents the physical, cognitive, personality and social development during adolescence, in the contexts of family, peer group, school, work, and culture. Specific in-depth topics include identity, autonomy, sexuality, and moral development. Although students focus on normal development, there is discussion of behavioural and emotional problems such as delinquency, substance abuse, depression, suicide, and eating disorders. This course has been designed to highlight cross-cultural research.

Learning outcomes

After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Understand the historical emergence of the period of adolescence and how this period has changed over generations.
  • Understand the lifespan view of development and contrast it to other traditional theories.
  • Know the methods by which adolescent development is studied.
  • Understand the ways in which physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and personality development interact in producing whole, complex individuals.
  • Understand the roles of various contexts — including family, peers, schools, and culture — in influencing adolescent development, and have some ideas about how to maximize their positive contributions and how strengths in one context can compensate for weaknesses in others.
  • Understand the importance for theory and for educational practices of recognizing and studying cross-cultural differences in socialization, learning style, and values.
  • Understand the various aspects of personality development, particularly as they develop in the adolescent years: identity, autonomy, gender roles, sexuality, moral principles, and behaviour.
  • Understand the complex, longitudinal ways in which most problems develop, including our current understanding of how biological and environmental factors interact in creating various types of problems.

Course topics

PSYC 3451: Adolescent Development is divided into four modules of study. The modules are divided into topics as follows:

Module 1: The Fundamental Changes of Adolescence

  • 1.1—A Perspective on Adolescence and the Changes of Puberty
  • 1.2—Cognitive Transitions
  • 1.3—Society and the Adolescent

Module 2: The Contexts of Adolescence

  • 2.1—The Influence of the Family on the Adolescent
  • 2.2—Peer Groups
  • 2.3—Adolescents and Schooling

Module 3: Psychosocial Development during Adolescence

  • 3.1—Identity
  • 3.2—Autonomy
  • 3.3—Achievement

Module 4: The Adolescent and the Emerging Adult

  • 4.1—Intimacy
  • 4.2—Sexuality
  • 4.3—Psychosocial Problems in Adolescence

Required text and materials

Students will receive the following:

  1. Steinberg, L. (2020) Adolescence (12th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
    Type: Textbook. ISBN: 978-1-260-56567-6

Additional requirements

A computer with internet access. Print students need to access some TRU library journal articles.


Please be aware that should your course have a final exam, you are responsible for the fee to the online proctoring service, ProctorU, or to the in-person approved Testing Centre. Please contact with any questions about this.

To complete this course successfully, you must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course and 50% or higher on the mandatory Final Exam. The following table illustrates how your final grade will be determined for this course.

Assignment 1: The Fundamental Changes of Adolescence 10%
Assignment 2: The Contexts of Adolescence 10%
Assignment 3: Psychosocial Development During Adolescence 10%
Assignment 4: The Adolescent and the Emerging Adult 10%
Reflection Questions 10%
Final Exam (mandatory) 50%

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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