Life-Span Developmental Systems: Meta-theory, Methodology and the Study of Applied Problems, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Life-Span Developmental Systems

Meta-theory, Methodology and the Study of Applied Problems, 1st Edition

By Ellen A. Skinner, Thomas Kindermann, Andrew Mashburn


450 pages | 12 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9781138316652
pub: 2019-05-10
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Everything you always wanted to know about theories, meta-theories, methods, and interventions but didn't realize you needed to ask

This innovative textbook takes advanced undergraduate and graduate students "behind the curtain" of standard developmental science, so they can begin to appreciate the generative value and methodological challenges of a lifespan developmental systems perspective.

With the aid of extensive online supplementary materials, it envisions applied developmental science as focused on ways to use knowledge about human development to help solve societal problems in real-life contexts, and considers applied developmental research as purpose-driven, field-based, community-engaged, and oriented toward efforts to optimize development. Based on the authors’ teaching for over 25 years, this text is designed to help researchers and their students intentionally create a cooperative learning community, full of arguments, doubts, and insights, that can facilitate their own internal paradigm shifts, one student at a time.

Students of developmental psychology as well as students in other psychological sub-disciplines (such as industrial-organizational, social, and community psychology), and applied professions that rely on developmental training (such as education, social work, counseling, nursing, health care, and business) will find this to be an invaluable guidebook and toolbox for conceptualizing and studying applied problems from a lifespan developmental systems perspective.

Table of Contents

Welcome to the Journey

1. Overview of the Textbook and Course

2. Getting Straight on the Goals of Developmental Science

Section I. How Are Unexamined Assumptions Shaping Developmental Science?

3. Understanding Theories: Why It’s Important and How to Do It

A. Project Step 1: Identifying a Configuration

4. Dueling Theories of Attachment and Why They Are Fighting

5. Uncovering Assumptions We Hold about Development

6. Is Human Development a Tree, a Machine, a Butterfly, or a Dance?

7. Contrasting Meta-Theories: Friends or Enemies?

B. Project Step 2. Developmentally Systematizing a Phenomenon

Section II: How Can Contextual Approaches Enrich our Understanding of Development?

8. Lifespan Developmental Paradigm Shift: Developing People in Changing Contexts

9. Ecological Revolutions: Alive and Well and Living in Multi-Level Partially Nested Contexts

10. Bioecological Models Reinvented: Proximal Processes as the Engines of Development

11. Dialectic Transactional Advice: Qualitative Shifts and the Ice Cream Cone in a Can

Section III: Get Title from Ellen

12. Relational Developmental Systems Meta-Theories: Walking with Complementarities

13. Nonlinear Dynamic Systems Meta-Theories: Much Convergence but Still Feuding?

14. Putting It All Together I: The Big Developmental Systems Ideas of Levels and Engines

15. Putting It All Together II: The Big Developmental Systems Idea of Dynamics

C. Project Step 3. The Field Observation: Going to Visit your Target Phenomenon Where It Lives

Section IV. What Tools Can We Use to Study Developmental Systems? Description

16. The Assumptions in your Hammer: How Meta-Theories Shape Methods and Vice Versa

D. Project Step 4. Generating a Research Program: More Ideas than you can Possibly Imagine

17. Adding Development to Designs I: Cross-Sectional, Longitudinal, and Cross-Sequential Designs

18. Adding Development to Designs II: Time-Lag and More Sequential Designs

19. Crossing Developmental Boundaries I: Sampling Equivalence and Selection

20. Crossing Developmental Boundaries II: Measurement Equivalence and "Developmentally Friendly" Conceptualizations

Section V. What Tools Can We Use to Study Developmental Systems? Explanation

21. Chapter 21. Building a Time Machine I: Lab and Field Experimental Designs

22. Building a Time Machine II: Naturalistic Designs and Causal Inferences

23. Looking under the Hood I: Proximal Processes and Sequential Observations

24. Looking under the Hood II: Intra-individual Time Series, Trajectories, and Episodes

25. Whole Persons in Complex Contexts: Person-Centered Approaches

Section VI. What Tools Can We Use to Study Developmental Systems? Optimization

26. Developing Contexts: Weather, Co-adaptation, and Attunement

27. Developing Brains: Experience and Neuroplasticity

28. Developing Individuals: Transformation and Branching Cascades

29. Multiple Lines of Sight: Converging Operations and Open Minds

The Journey Continues

About the Authors

Ellen Skinner, trained as a lifespan developmentalist, is a leading expert on the development of children’s motivation, coping, and academic identity in school. She is a Professor of Human Development and Chair of the Psychology Department at Portland State University.

Thomas Kindermann is a life-span developmental psychologist and Professor in the Psychology Department at Portland State University. He is a leading expert on children's peer affiliations in school and how they may foster or undermine children's academic development.

Andrew Mashburn, a Professor of Developmental Psychology at Portland State University, is a leading expert on the transition to Kindergarten. He conducts research to describe, explain, and promote young children’s school readiness and long-term academic success.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Developmental / General