SOCW 3551: Human Development

Students are introduced to the aspects and models of how human behaviour is acquired, maintained and modified in a social environment. A perspective of bio-psycho-social- spiritual human development is used as a knowledge basefor practice with individuals, families and groups. Human development and behaviour is examined through the lens of various theoretical perspectives including Aboriginal, feminist and anti-oppressive approaches to practice.

Learning outcomes

  • Describe the major theories of human growth and development, focusing in particular on the impacts of social environment on development;
  • Apply and critique the major theories of human growth and development, emphasizing the concept of ongoing development throughout the life span;
  • Compare and contrast major theories on growth and development using Aboriginal, feminist and anti-oppressive critiques;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the range of normative human development that will serve as a knowledge base for social work practice with individuals, families and groups;
  • Outline how developmental stages may be impacted by the intersectionality of gender, sexual identity, culture, race, class, disability etc.;
  • Explore the influence of students' own gender, sexual identity, culture, race, class, language and developmental stage on their social work practice.

Course topics

  • Unit 1: Introduction to the Field of Human Development
  • Unit 2: Theoretical Frameworks and Research Methods
  • Unit 3: Biological Beginnings
  • Unit 4: Infancy
  • Unit 5: Early Childhood and Preschool Years
  • Unit 6: Middle Childhood
  • Unit 7: Adolescence
  • Unit 8: Early Adulthood
  • Unit 9: Middle Adulthood
  • Unit 10: Late Adulthood
  • Unit 11: Death and Dying

Required text and materials

The following materials are required for this course:

  1. Anderson, K. (2011). Life stages and Native women: Memory, teachings and story medicine. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.
    Type: Textbook. ISBN: 9780887557262

Students require the following e-textbook, which can be purchased directly from the TRU bookstore site at

  1. Feldman, R. S. & Landry, O. (2017). Revel for Discovering the lifespan (2nd Canadian ed.) – Access Card, Toronto: Pearson.
    Type: e-Text. ISBN: 978-0-13-456082-3

Optional materials:
Wagamese, R. (2012). Indian Horse. Madeira Park, BC: Douglas & McIntyre Ltd.
Type: Novel. ISBN: 9781553654025

Additional requirements

PRINT STUDENTS – will require access to a computer with high-speed internet for the e-Text and a computer to use a USB.


To successfully complete this course, students must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course, and 50% or higher on the final mandatory exam.

Assignment 1: Short Answers A (Chapters 1 to 5) 15%
Assignment 2: Reflection on Childhood Development 15%
Assignment 3: Short Answers B (Chapters 6 to 10) 15%
Assignment 4: Reflection on Social Issues and Development 15%
Final Essay (mandatory) 40%
Total 100%

Open Learning Faculty Member

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

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