Developmental Autobiography

This assignment sets the stage for connecting personal experiences to psychological literature on human development. I do not intend for this assignment to be intrusive or to make students uncomfortable. I do hope, however, that the assignment will provoke students’ analysis of their own developmental process and help them to see the relevance of academic concepts for their own lives to then help build insight that is useful in their future careers. The following are the basic questions for students to read and consider in preparing their paper.

Students can choose to answer any of the questions in Part A (see note on Part A below, which offers alternative ways to complete this section of the assignment if so desired), and then answer all of Part B and Part C.

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Part A. Your Life (2- to 2 ½ pages)
Describe your family. How many people were in your family during your childhood years? Did your family structure change (e.g., divorce of parents, death of a family member, inclusion of grandparent in the home, addition of a sibling)?
Was there anything unusual about your birth (e.g., were you born early, you are a twin, longer stay in hospital, low birth weight)?
Were there any notable circumstances during your infancy (e.g., a sibling was born, move, parent job change)?
What do you remember about your early childhood, from about 2 to 6 years of age (e.g., did you go to preschool? Who did you play with? What kinds of fantasies and pretend play did you participate in? What scared you?)
What are your most vivid memories about middle childhood, from about 6 to 10 years of age (e.g., who were your friends? How did you do in school? What did you do in your free time? What kind of identity did you develop (as a boy or girl? as a member of an ethnic or cultural group)? What kind of chores did you have at home? How did your family make sense of the meaning of life?)
What was your adolescence like, from about 10 to 18 years of age (e.g., what do you rememberabout your search for an identity? What were your close friends like? What other kinds of peer interactions did you have? What were your romantic relationships (or desires) like? How did you find school? Did you participate in any extracurricular activities? What did you do to explore the boundaries of acceptable behavior—for example, trying risky behaviors?)
What accomplishments and struggles have you had as a young adult, from about 18 to 30 years of age (e.g., how have you negotiated your personal relationships? What kinds of jobs have you had? What personal changes have been most satisfying?)
What have been your experiences, if applicable, during middle adulthood, from about 30 to 60 years of age (e.g., What responsibilities have you had? How have your relationships changed in some ways and remained stable in others? How have you both changed and remained stable? In what areas in your life do you gain the most satisfaction?)
Note on Part A. If you prefer not to examine your own life, you may choose to write about another person or report on a published biography or autobiography. If you choose the former option, make sure that you give the person a pseudonym. If you choose the latter option, provide a full reference.

Part B. A Lifespan Framework (½ to 1 page)
Prior to completing this section, read Chapter 1 from the textbook; this is the section on Major Issues in Development. Choose three of the following issues and apply them to your life by answering the following questions: How have you demonstrated one or both of the ends of the continuum of dimensions (for those that are on a continuum)? How have these polar qualities interacted? For other dimensions, how have both qualities been influential?
Critical periods and brain plasticity (these are not opposing terms on a continuum but rather relatable terms)
Continuity and discontinuity
Cultural universality and cultural specificity
Qualitative and quantitative change
Actively constructing developmental change vs. passivity
Part C. Stress and Resiliency (½ to 1 page)
Please be specific when answering the following questions for this section. What characteristics of your nature and nurture resulted in stressors? What characteristics of your nature and nurture resulted in buffers and ultimately resiliency against those stressors?

Your paper should be double spaced, have 12-point font, and 1-inch margins. The 3-4 page paper will be assessed based on thoughtful inclusion of the above points (e.g., reasonable efforts to describe one’s own or another’s personal life in A, accurate application of concepts in B, and thoughtful analysis of C), clarity in writing, organized ideas, thoughtful analysis overall, and absence of spelling and grammar errors.

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