The present teaching resource is suggested in the context of the Developmental Psychology course. The aim of this course is to provide students with knowledge of the main theories of human development as well as current research in this area; also the course aims to enable students to critically discuss and practically apply the acquired knowledge in the specific Albanian context. The present teaching resource has been designed precisely for this purpose, i.e., allow students to put in to practice what they are learning during the course within the specific socio-cultural context.
This teaching resource is a combination of two methods: Focus Group and Field Work. It has been conceptualized as a group project; hence students are randomly divided into groups (approximately 4 members each). All groups are provided with three different handouts. Handout 1 consists of Broad Topics referring to the major life developmental stages e.g., Childhood, adolescence, adulthood, middle age, old age. Handout 2 consists of Specific Topics, related in some way to the developmental stages; examples include substance abuse, chronic illness, career choice, quality of life, bullying, depression, love, friendship etc. Finally Handout 3 is divided in two parts 1. Mini-research study (discussions on methodology,instruments, participants etc. and Part 2: Practical activity (discussions on the type and setting of the activity,difficulties they might face, etc)
Groups are asked to choose (by providing 3 reasons for their choice) a broad topic (Handout 1) and a specific topic (Handout 2) and come up with a title for their projects (e.g., Depression in old age). Phases 1 and 2 are usually completed in 2 teaching hours, in order to provide enough time for discussion. In Phase 3 groups are asked to discuss the methodology (instruments, participants) they think is most appropriate to investigate the specific topic (e.g., organize interviews or distribute questionnaires into a sample of elderly). In Phase 4 groups are asked to come up with a practical activity concerning their topic (e.g., in the case of the topic ‘Depression the old age’, contact nursery homes and do voluntary work, such as reading to the elderly, taking them for a walk etc.). Students are told that they might either combine the mini-study + practical activity (e.g., measure the depression level of the elderly in the nursery home, twice: before and after the practical activity) or carry them out separately (in cases the topic makes it difficult to combine).
The time till completion of the projects is 10 weeks; The first 4 weeks are usually used to define the topic, decide on the methodology,and the practical application; the following 3 weeks students report on their progress and/or difficulties they are facing. Weeks 8, 9, 10 are used for project presentations of the final work (Project Report Form)
Each project is evaluated on the basos of the following indicators (Project Evaluation Form) 1. The scientific research part: Sound methodology, proper use of measuring instruments; correctness of the analysis and quality of critical discussion 2. The practical activity: Access difficulty (E.g., in institutions where several relevant permissions are required), Extent of the impact (how many people?), New Connections formed, and Reflections on theoretical and empirical knowledge.