My Virtual Life Simulation Assignment
Overview: My Virtual Life is a simulation. The simulation allows you to raise a child from birth to age 18 and monitor the effects of your parenting decisions over time. Assignment Directions:
1. Specifically, in Appendix A, you will find the exact questions you are to answer after raising your child and a rubric for how your responses will be graded. You will see the assignment is divided into 4 parts: infants and toddlers, early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence. Each part is worth 25 points, equaling 100 total points.
2. Your responses to the questions in Appendix A should be typed in a word document. Use single space, Times New Roman 10-point font, and 1-inch margins.
My Virtual Life Simulation 1 Infants and Toddlers (23 points) – Appendix A General guidelines: A good answer will address every part of the question, and will describe the child’s behavior and provide 1 or 2 supporting examples. In addition, wherever possible, you should relate your descriptions and explanations of the child’s behavior to the concepts, theories and research covered in the book. Please avoid expressing an unfounded opinion – try to base your arguments on research studies and conclusions, or a theory that seems well supported by the research in the field. The questions are printed below along with a scoring rubric. 0-8 Months: 1. How does your baby’s eating, sleeping and motor development compare to the typical developmental patterns? 1 point for describing VC’s behavior in each of two domains and referring to what might be expected at these ages. (2 points) 2. At 8 months of age was your child an “easy”, “slow-to-warm-up”, or “difficult” baby in terms of Thomas and Chess’s classic temperamental categories? On what do you base this judgement? 1/2 point for explaining the category and half a point for a supporting observation on VC’s behavior (1 point) 3. How is your child’s attachment to you and your partner developing? What is happening at the 3-month and 8-month periods that might affect attachment security according to Bowlby and Ainsworth, and various research studies?
1 point each for describing two aspects of the child’s behavior that indicate attachment is developing at 3 or 8 months, and 1 point for describing one aspect of parental behavior that may affect attachment security. (3 points) 8–19 months: 1. Describe and give examples of changes in your child’s exploratory or problem solving behavior from 8 through 18 months and categorize them according to Piagetian and information processing theories. Note that 8 months is included, so you’ll need to use the time-line to look back at 8 months for examples. 1 point for describing an improvement or a qualitatively new behavior and one point for explaining it using a specific Piagetian or information processing concept to classify the child’s behavior (2 points) 2. Analyze your baby’s temperament in more detail at 18 months than you did at 8 months. How would you describe your baby in terms of the five aspects of temperament utilized by the Virtual Child program (activity, sociability, emotionality, aggressiveness vs. cooperativeness, and self- control)? Has your baby’s temperament been stable over the first 18 months? A blurb defining and providing examples of the five aspects of temperament is provided at 12 months, but you should seek out further explanations of temperament from your textbook. Explain how the concept of goodness of fit (also discussed in the blurb on infant temperament) applies to your interactions with your child. 1/2 point for giving a supporting example of each of the five aspects of temperament, ½ point for addressing the issue of stability and 1 point for discussing and giving an example of goodness of fit (4 points) 3. Were you surprised by anything in the developmental assessment at 19 months? That is, does your perception of your child’s physical, cognitive, language and social development differ from that of the developmental examiner? Give specific examples. If you were not surprised, write instead about some aspects of your child’s development that need the most work. 1 point for describing each area of development plus a description of why you were either surprised or not surprised by each, based on the textbook (3 points) 2 Years: 1. Have there been any environmental events in your child’s first 2 ½ years that you think might have influenced his or her behavior? On what do you base your hypotheses? 1 point for each of two environmental events – be sure to explain how you think they influenced your child (2 points) 2. How is your child progressing on the typical toddler issues, such as learning household rules, learning to follow routines, listening to you, developing self-control and learning to get along with other children? 1 point for each of three toddler issues (total of 3 points)
3. Analyze your own parenting philosophy and practices. What principles from social learning theory, Bowlby, Ainsworth, Piaget, Vygotsky, information processing theory, developmental neuroscience and other theories do you appear to have relied on in making your parenting choices or interpreting your child’s behavior? Include three principles/theorists from the above list in your answer. 1 point for discussing an example from your parenting that fits a concept or principle from each of three theories you select from the list above (3 points) Early Childhood (age 3-4 years) (17 points) 3 years: 1. What activities and experiences you and your child have engaged in might be promoting healthy behavioral practices and an interest in physical activity. 1 point for each of three activities or experiences (3 points) 2. Describe development of your child’s language and cognitive skills and discuss how these might be affecting his or her interactions with you and your responses. 1 point for each of two examples illustrating changes in cognitive or language skills and for explaining how they might affect your interactions with your child (2 points) 3. How well is your child adapting to social situations in the home and outside the home? Does your child have any behavior or emotional problems at this point? Why do you think these problems are occurring and what are you doing about them? 1 point for an instance of adaptation in the home and 1 point for an instance outside the home. 1 point for describing a problem (or an area in which the child needs improvement) and what the parent is doing or plans to do about it. (3 points) 4 years: 1. How would you characterize your parenting style? How have your specific parenting techniques changed since infancy? In what ways do you think your parenting style, or any other aspect of your parenting, has been influenced by your cultural background or other experiences? 1 point each for two examples describing your parenting style, and 1 point for illustrating how specific parenting techniques have changed since infancy (3 points) 2. Describe two specific examples of changes in your child’s behavior at age 4 that seem to stem from growth in cognitive and language ability since the period of infancy (e.g., improvements in symbolic thinking, reasoning, knowledge of the world, theory of mind). 1 point for each of two examples of changes in behavior; be sure to use one or more concepts from the course, including but not limited to those listed above (2 points)
3. How would you characterize your child’s personality? Would you say that your child is primarily overcontrolled, undercontrolled or resilient? Support your argument.
*Recall that the Virtual Child’s behavior at age 3 and 4 is designed to resemble one of three personality types. The personality types combine some of the temperamental traits with which you are already familiar. The overcontrolled category refers to a child who is cooperative and follows the rules, but is shy in social situations and anxious and clingy under pressure. The undercontrolled category refers to a child who is uncooperative or even aggressive, does not follow the rules, may or may not be shy in social situations, and has a tendency to become distracted and overly emotional, particularly when under stress. The resilient category refers to a child who is cooperative and follows the rules, is friendly, non-aggressive and outgoing, able to focus on tasks without being too distracted, has good regulation of his or her emotions, and is adaptable to new situations. Refer to the course reader and lecture.
4 points for a well-documented explanation, with two examples of behavior in different situations that support your argument (4 points) Middle Childhood (age 6-11 years) (30 points)
6 Years: 1. How well is your child adapting to social situations in the home and outside the home? Does your child have any behavior or emotional problems at this point? Why do you think these problems are occurring and what are you doing about them? 1 point each for providing an example to illustrate how well the child is adapting in the home and outside the home. 1 point for describing a problem or an area in which the child needs improvement and providing a hypothesized reason for the problem and 1 point for describing what you are doing about these problems. (4 points) 2. Do you notice any improvements in cognitive and language skills since age 4? Give specific examples. Does your child have any special needs with regard to cognitive or language development at this point and what do you plan to do? 1 point each for a description of a cognitive change and a language change. 1 point for description of special needs. (3 points) 3. Which aspects of your child’s behavior and personality reflect continuities from earlier behavior (e.g., at ages 3-4 years) and which seem to be novel for this age level? 1 point for an example of a continuity and 1 point for an example of a novel change. 2 points for discussing how any of these adaptive responses depend on your child’s personality vs. novel behavior evoked by the unique demands. (4 points total) 8 Years: 1. How smart is your child, and in what areas? Think back to the blurb on multiple intelligences that appeared at age 6. Find specific evidence regarding your child’s verbal, logical-
mathematical, spatial, musical and bodily-kinesthetic intelligence from your observations of your own child as well as the psychologist’s report at age 8 years, 11 months. 1 point for an example illustrating your child’s level in two of the five areas of intelligence (2 points) 2. Describe some examples of your child’s behavior or thinking that you think are due to typical American gender role socialization and explain why you think so. Several examples can be found at ages 6 and 8. How closely does your attitude toward gender roles correspond to typical American attitudes, and if there is a discrepancy, to what do you attribute this (e.g., cultural background, attitudes of your own parents, etc.)? 1 point for each of two examples illustrating gender role socialization and 1 point for discussing evidence from the book and lecture about gender roles, and comparing them to your own attitudes. One point for giving an example from the program of how you have put your attitudes into play (4 points) 3. How might your child’s development have been different if s/he was raised by people with a different socioeconomic, ethnic or cultural background? Base your answer on specific evidence of SES/cultural differences from the textbook and class lectures. 1 point each for two examples of how it would be different, each backed up by info from the text. (2 points) 10 Years: 1. Describe your child’s academic skills between ages 6 and 10 and assess how well these skills are developing. The 5th grade report card will be useful for this but you should also incorporate your own observations. What are you doing to help your child? 1 point each for describing two academic skills and how they have changed. 2 points for describing 2 ways you are helping your child (4 points) 2. How well is your child adapting to social situations in the home and outside the home? Does your child have any behavior or emotional problems at this point? Why do you think these problems are occurring and what are you doing about them? 1 point for providing an example to illustrate how well the child is adapting in the home and outside the home. 1 point for describing a problem or an area in which the child needs improvement and providing a hypothesized reason for the problem and 1 point for describing what you are doing about these problems. (3 points) 3. Has your parenting changed since the preschool period and if so, why do you think it has changed and what effect might this have on your child? Refer to your textbook or lecture notes for evidence on typical changes in parenting that occur in middle childhood. 1 point each for describing two ways in which your parenting has changed, 1 point for thinking about why it has changed and 1 point for hypothesizing about effects on the child. Be sure to
include evidence from the text or lecture about typical changes in parenting in middle childhood. (4 points) Adolescence (12-18 years) (30 Points) 12 Years: 1. Describe any physical or behavioral signs of incipient puberty. 1 point each for two examples of physical and/or behavioral (which can include cognitive, social or emotional) signs of puberty and a citation of the text or lecture as a source indicating why these types of changes are important (2 points). 2. How would you characterize your child at this point in terms of the under-controlled, over- controlled or resilient categories? Have there been any changes since the preschool period and why might they have occurred? 1 point each for describing 3 changes and why you think each occurred. (3 points) 3. Using the 7th grade report card and your own observations, summarize your child’s academic skills at this point. What specific activities might promote some of these skills? 1 point each for describing and giving two examples of your child’s academic skills. Make sure not to rely solely on the report cards, i.e., cite your own observations. 2 points for describing some activities that might facilitate growth in these 2 academic skills (4 points) 15 Years: 1. What activities and experiences at ages 12 and 14 has your teen been involved in that might promote healthy behavioral practices, physical fitness and skill in sports? 1 point each for examples of two activities that promote physical health and/or sports skill and 1 point for citing arguments from the course or the readings as to why these activities are beneficial (3 points) 2. Have there been any changes in your teen’s behavior toward you or your partner? Why are these occurring and how are you responding? 2 points for describing 2 changes and why you think each has occurred (2 points) 3. Do you see any examples of how cognitive and physical changes in early adolescence (ages 12-14) that relate to your teen’s social or emotional behavior? 1 point each for describing one cognitive and one physical change and how each may affect the teen’s social or emotional life. (2 points)
16 Years: 1. Think about your teen’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses and how they are reflected in his or her school grades and activities from 14-16 years of age. What careers or courses of study might be best suited to your teen’s abilities and interests? 1 point each for describing a strength and a weakness and relating those to a career they would suit and explaining why they would suit someone in that career (2 points) 2. How important have your teen’s relationships with peers been to his/her social development, emotional well-being and school achievement from 14-16 years of age? 1 point for each of three examples of a possible connection between peer and romantic relationships to the child’s social, emotional or academic development and citing points from the course that support the importance of these types of peer relationships to later behavior (3 points) 3. How has your teen adjusted at 14-16 years of age to typical adolescent issues such as risk- taking, drugs, alcohol, and sexual interests, and how have you responded to your teen? 1 point for each of two examples of an issue your teen has encountered from this list, and 1/2 point for describing how you responded to that specific issue and ½ point for describing why it is important to long-term adolescence adjustment (according to the text and lecture). (3 points) 18 Years: 1. As the program ends, what pathways does your child appear to be on in terms of physical, cognitive, social, emotional and moral development? To what extent could you have predicted these pathways based on what you knew of your child’s earlier development? Describe some specific ways in which you think your parenting mattered for your child’s development, based on evidence from the course regarding the contributions of parents to child development. 1 point for discussing each of two pathways and for providing supporting documentation (2 points) 2. Describe some specific ways in which your child developed that appeared to be influenced by factors outside your control, such as genes, random environmental events or the general influence of contemporary middle-class American culture. 1 point each for 2 influences (2 points) 3. Bonus Question: Are there any issues you had with your parents, your school work, your friends, or your romantic involvements in the last year of high school that continued to be issues for you in college? Reflect on your own personality, interests and cognitive abilities at the time you graduated high school. How did these personality characteristics and abilities manifest themselves in subsequent years? How have they changed since your high school days, if at all? 1 point each for 2 issues and how each affected you in college. (2 points)
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