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Course Name: Developmental Psychology, 4 EAP (104 hours of work) / EXAM

Lecturer: Karmel Tall, MA (social work and social policy)
Gestalt psychotherapist

Course Period: 13.04-31.12.2020

  • In class lectures:
    April 13.-14. 2020 start Monday at 16.00 and finish Tuesday at 14.00
    September 6.-8. 2020 start Sunday at 16.00 and finish Tuesday at 16.00
  • Skype-lectures and discussions (if necessary)

Exam Period: Dec. 2020

Required text: Hutchison, E. D. (2016). Essentials of human behavior: Integrating person,
environment, and the life course. Los Angeles: Sage

Purchase options (paper or electronic): https://uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/essentials-of-human-


This foundation course is for working with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and
communities. Theories and concepts of human development throughout the life cycle are presented
and critiqued within the person-in-environment perspective. The framework is multidimensional,
considering the impact of ability, age, class, exploitation, ethnicity, gender, oppression, political
belief system, race, religion, sexual orientation, and the social environment on human behavior and
development. Students learn to identify multiple determinants of human behavior using examples
from different environmental backgrounds, in local, national, and international rural and small town

Course Objectives:

After completing, students will demonstrate:

  1. Understanding of the theories that pertain to human development.
  2. Knowledge of physical, emotional, cognitive, and social factors as they relate to human
  3. Knowledge about how family, peers, environment, and culture influence and are influenced by
    individual development.

This course covers:

  1. Human behavior: a multidimensional approach
  2. Theoretical perspectives on human behavior
  3. The biological person
  4. The Psychological person
  5. The spiritual person
  6. Culture and the physical environment
  7. Families
  8. Small groups, Formal organizations, and communities
  9. Social structure, social institutions and communities
  10. The human life journey: A life course
  11. The journey begins: Conception, pregnancy, childbirth and infancy
  12. Toddlerhood and early childhood
  13. Middle Childhood
  14. Adolescence
  15. Young and Middle Adulthood
  16. Late Adulthood

Requirements for credit:

  1. Completion of all required reading.
  2. Developmental Interview with adult person (pass/no pass). A 5 to 7 page paper covering one
    adult person and his/her physical, cognitive, social/emotional development.
  3. Final exam (Grade A-F). You can take the exam after completing all other requirements for credit
    (reading, participation in auditory meetings and developmental interview paper).

The exam will be held on-line. There will be 30 multiple-choice questions.

GRADING for the exam: grades are assigned according to the following scale:

Scale Definition Acquisition of knowledge from the course
A Excellent 91-100%
B Very Good 81-90%
C Good 71-80%
D Satisfactory 61-70%
E Sufficient 51-60%
F Fail 0-50%

Final Grading is based on the results from exam and from developmental interview.

After finishing the course, you will receive a Tartu University certificate stating that you have passed
Developmental Psychology course in Tartu University. It will also have supplement that lists all studied topics.


  • Nordic student: 270 EUR + accommodation 1 stay over at Orø and 1 stayover in Vihula.
  • Baltic student: 190 EUR + accommodation 1 stay over at Orø and 1 stayover in Vihula.

Guidelines for the Developmental Interview

General information

  • A 5 to 7-page paper covering one person and his/her physical, cognitive, social/emotional
    development. Assignment purpose is to learn to use the biographical method and practically
    assess client’s development, it’s status and developmental needs.
  • Deadline: before final exam. The interview paper is prerequisite for taking the final exam.
  • Size and format: 5-7 pages; ordinary font and shrift (for example: Arial 10 or 11, Times New
    Roman 12, Calibri 11, etc.).
  • Your work should show a reference list and the length of your interview(s).
  • Send to: Karmel.Tall@ut.ee; subject: developmental psychology

For an interview choose one adult person. Choose for an interview a person who in general is coping
with his/her life well, is active and who has no mental health or other disabling diseases. Try to open
the background of his/her coping in life (people, places, and events), the most important turning
points in life. Analyze the past and present risks. Pay attention to the family life cycle: birth,
childhood, separation from family of origin, family created by him/herself. Rely mainly on one theory
of development (e.g., E. Erikson psychosocial theory), complementing it with various other theories
that cover different aspects of development (e.g. moral development described by Kohlberg L, etc.).
The theory is just a skeleton around which the story evolves and structures. The written text should
be more expressive and vivid than rigidly following the theory.


  1. Avoid judgmental expressions (judgmental way of thinking).
  2. Aim to use correct, professional language (as you would use with your colleagues in
    psychotherapy field).
  3. Aim to achieve a logical whole. Imagine yourself as a reader who has no knowledge of
    developmental psychology and its theories, ask yourself, whether the result is believable and


  1. Personal information – to such an extent that identification is not possible.
  2. Developmental factors that are not under the influence of interviewee/client, independent
    developmental factors: ethnicity, place of birth, environment for development in childhood –
    the socio-economic status and family lifestyle, the terms of culture and education,
    psychological environment in the family – immediate and extended family and significant
    others, upbringing.
  3. Factors of development dependent on the person: health and physical training, personal
    (self-) development, lifestyle.
  4. Passed developmental stages (biological, cognitive, moral, personality, relational factors)
    whether according to Erikson, Havighurst or other or combined scheme.
  5. The current status of personal lifecycle and developmental trend (tendency, direction): coping, health, the balance between needs and opportunities-capacities, values, manifestation of learned helplessness.
  6. The need for an intervention by psychotherapist or other professional? Possible method for intervention?

Clearly distinguish where a statement comes from: the client said…, I think …, the course text states
that…, the relative or a family member of a client said… etc.


Your interview should not disturb your client’s sense of security. It is important to build a trusting
relationship before taking an interview! Complete anonymity of the client – use a pseudonym in your
writing. Explain to your client how he/she is protected. The less the client trusts the interviewer, the
less important information is provided. If the client has had experiences that he/she tries to avoid
talking about, it is important to use your knowledge from gestalt-studies and help the client to share
his/her experiences with you. If that does not work, your written paper should show what were the
periods of your client’s life that he/she did not want to talk about. The client has the right to see
written information about him/her.

Implementation of Theories of Development

Avoid the transfer of client’s emphasis and viewpoints to your writing. Your knowledge of theoretical
background helps you to focus on essential developmental factors that the client could not have
stated. Keep in mind that there are two parallel sets of data: first, your client’s developmental
process and secondly, the phases, characteristics and processes construed by the theory. Aim to
compare the two sets of data. For example, expression could be this way: “The manifestations in the
client history suggest the developmental phase (crisis, problem, etc.) according to this author”.