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Teaching Human Development to Early Childhood Education Students: A Cultural-Contextual Perspective

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2021, 12:14 by Judith K. Bernhard, Howard A. Smith
The focus of a cultural-contextual approach to development is to recognize the fact that considerable differences exist among human individuals, especially in terms of their diverse sociocultural backgrounds. This paper examines how a group of early childhood education students responded to the presentation of a cultural-contextual approach during a human development course. A variety of data were gathered on the reactions of 81 students enrolled in the course during their first year of a four-year undergraduate degree program in early childhood education. The data reflected a number of course-related issues, and the investigation looked for signs that the cultural approach was salient for the students. There appeared to be evidence for only a small degree of success in conveying the approach in terms of students actually mentioning such issues. In analyzing the findings we propose that to reach a larger number of students, it may be necessary to address in a deliberate way the explicit and implicit messages concerning what is important to know about human development. The underlying assumptions of the wider course of study may need to be addressed as well, both at the program level and within the individual courses themselves. Implications for teaching are presented.

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