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.


Upon successful completion of SOCW 3551, you will be able to:

  • 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 outline

The course is divided into the following eleven units:

  • 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

Students will receive the following:

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

Note: Discovering the Lifespan required text for this course is an eText. Students registering for the course will receive a Standalone Access Card with access to the eText and MyVirtualChild. MyVirtualChild is not required in this course however, it is used for additional learning activities. The ISBN for the standalone text (without MyVirtualChild) is 9780134830087.

  1. Anderson, K. (2011). Life stages and Native women: Memory, teachings and story medicine. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.
    ISBN: 9780887557262
  1. Optional: Wagamese, R. (2012). Indian Horse. Madeira Park, BC: Douglas & McIntyre Ltd.
    ISBN: 9781553654025

Additional requirements

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


In order to successfully complete this course, you must obtain at least 50% on the final examination and 50% overall. The following chart shows how the final grade is determined for this course.

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. Primary communication is by phone if you are taking the print version of the course and through the Learning Management System "Mail" tool if you are taking the web version. You will receive the necessary contact information when you start your course.

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