Child Development 145 (01; 66-69) - Hembree
Controversial Issues in Child Development
Spring, 2012 


Exam Guide #1

The following represent terms and concepts you will need to know for the open-note/open-text exam scheduled for Wed, March 14th.  For your reference, I have included the text of the discussion questions presented in class as these are useful with respect to studying for essay questions. You will need to bring a blue book for the exam. For additional general information about exam format, please see the Exam handout.  Revised 3/7/12

1) Parenting and discipline

basic tasks of parenting

secure attachment/links to adjustment

parenting style (authoritative, authoritarian, permissive) and research supporting style

questions to ask in evaluating discipline techniques

different discipline techniques and research behind it

positive, negative reinforcement, punishment

distraction, induction, power assertion

physical punishment

factors associated with disciplinary practice (e.g., class, beliefs)

Factors influencing effectiveness of discipline

arguments and evidence related to physical punishment


See discussion #1 questions and the following in-class discussion questions

1)   What is your personal position about the use of physical punishment as a parent? Is it something you would or would not do? Under what conditions? Support your position with what you have read (or lecture material).

2)   Given what you know and your position on the issue, what advice would you give new parents about this issue?

3)   Do you think that physical/corporal punishment should be allowed in schools? If yes, under what conditions?  Support your position. 

4)   Some countries have made spanking illegal. Do you think that spanking or physical punishment should be against the law? Why or why not?



2) Child Care

major societal changes related to changes in child care arrangments (e.g., industrialization)

historical changes in form of child care (e.g., more formal care arrangements, licensing)

changes in research focus and questions over time

findings from early comparisons of children in nonmaternal care vs. maternal care

problems with early research

importance of child care quality, effects of quality, structural vs. process variables

factors influencing development that need to be considered in child care research (child characteristics, care characteristics, family characteristics)

NICHD study (how conducted, early results on attachment, results concerning quality and quantity of care), how an improvement over earlier research


See discussion #2 questions and the following in-class discussion questions:

1)      Discuss your own experience with child care. What sorts of nonparental care did you experience before age 5? Before age 10? Have you been a child care worker or sitter or had to choose child care? How does this experience inform your opinions about the effects of child care?

2)      From your readings, discuss the results of research on the effects of child care, and child care quality, on children’s development. How does this research inform your opinion?

3)      Given what you know, what advice would you give to parents considering and choosing child care? Support your answer.

4) Research documenting child care quality indicates that most US child care is of mediocre or poor quality. What does this mean for public policy? What can or should parents, professionals, and/or government do, if anything, about ensuring that children receive quality care?



3) Family diversity

ways in which the family has changed over the last 50 years

increased diversity in structure, values, practice

role of social science in addressing issues of diversity with respect to children's development

family process vs. structure in determining developmental outcome

elements of parenting practice that consistently predict development

challenges single parent families

research findings on single-parent families

factors that buffer the effects/protective factors in signle-parent families

divorce process/changes associated with divorce

research on consequences of divorce for children/factors that moderate or mediate the effects

importance of interparental conflict in explaining/reducing divorce effects

changes in lesbian and gay families

challenges for families headed by lesbian and gay parents

research on children of lesbian and gay parents

trends in adoption in US

challenges for adoptive families

research on adoption

See discussion #3 questions and the following in-class discussion questions:

  1. Lansford identifies several legal issues related to divorce (fault, custody, and child support). Discuss these issues. Given the results of studies on parental divorce, what can or should the legal community do to help children experiencing divorce? (Support your answer)

  2. Answer the question posed by Patterson: “How and in what ways should laws and policies regulate the family lives of lesbian and gay citizens” relative to supporting children’s well-being? Support your answer with empirical information from the article or lecture.

  3. In many cases, researchers have been able to identify stigmatization as a factor in children’s adjustment in diverse, non traditional families. For example, increased stigmatization is linked to poorer outcomes for children experiencing parental divorce, and Patterson identifies stigmatization is a challenge for children with Lesbian or Gay parents. Given that such stigmatization itself may pose adjustment difficulties for children, what, if anything, can or should be done to reduce the stigma attached to living in nontraditional families? 

  4. Discuss Brodzinsky’s guidelines for discussing adoption with children. Do you agree with them? Why or why not?  Why do you think that adoption remains relatively rare in the US?

  5. Discuss the core common parenting practices associated with positive outcomes for children identified by Amato and Fowler. How do their findings contribute to the idea that “process is more important than structure” in predicting children’s development?


4) Gender and equity

gender stereotypes vs. actual psychological sex differences

cautions in interpreting psychological sex differences

elements of gender development - development of stereotyoing, sex-typed behavior, gender concept,

influences on gender development, biology, social factors, interactions (Maccoby, Halpern)


See in-class discussion questions:

1)      Chesley (2011) found that Breadwinner mother/At-home father families have the potential to “undo gender”. Discuss the positive and negative consequences of this family structure for both individuals and families. What consequences might these changes in family structure have for children?

2)   Chesley (2011) alludes to the possibility that increases in these Breadwinner mother/At-home father families have the potential to, in effect, change society. How do you feel about the possibility that with increases in these families, we might experience changes in our views of roles of men in women in family and work contexts?

3)   Discuss 3-4 of the gender gaps identified in the Buchmann et al. review. What explanations are offered for these gaps? Can you think of alternate explanations? Why is it do difficult to “tease apart the biological and social factors” explaining gender differences in education?

4)   Using Buchmann et al. (2008) and Mead (2006) articles, argue for or against the following statement:

     “Boys (or girls) are at a disadvantage in the US educational system


5) Early Childhood Education and School readiness

historical changes in need and form of preschool

changes in attitudes and purpose of child care

preschool vs. child care (similarities and differences)

theoretical views of school readiness

issues in school readiness - conceptualization, measurement, assessment, implementation

predictors of school readiness

Graue's model of readiness

Ladd - entry task perspective - behavioral and relational tasks (social factors)

what future research and implementation of school readiness should look like


See discussion #4 questions and the following in-class discussion questions

1) Barnett argues for the need to provide high quality preschool programs provided by public schools. He lists the Benchmarks for such programs. Given the research on child care quality, what is missing from this list?

2) Many have argued for Universal preschool – preschool for all children. Others have argues for preschool programs targeted to particular groups (e.g., low income or at-risk groups). What approach do you think is best? Support your position.

3) Preschool is often touted as an effective preparation for formal schooling, and as a effective intervention for at-risk children. Are there other experiences children should have to prepare for Kindergarten? Should preschool become the “new Kindergarten”? Why or why not?

4) Given what you have read, what sorts of recommendations or advice might you give to a parent about developing readiness in his/her child? What advice might you give about holding a child back from Kindergarten?


6) High Stakes testing

What is standardized testing?

Advantages, disadvantages of standardized tests

Reliability and validity of measures

Interpretation of scores

Measurement error

Norm referenced versus criterion referenced tests:

Problem with using ranks and percentiles as measures of actual improvement

Is assessment the same thing as intervention?

How will scores be used?

methodological difficulties in assessing young children

testing and anxiety

developmental appropriateness of testing with young children

how testing conveys our values

Purpose and mission of the No Child Left Behind Act  

NCLB Requirements

Has NCLB worked to accomplish mission?

Porter & Polikoff conclusions and suggestions

See In-class discussion questions:

1)   Use your readings to discuss some of the potential consequences for students, families and communities for the use of high stakes standardized tests to assess (a) school readiness (b) qualification for graduation (c) need for remediation for individual students, (d) school performance.

2)   What role should standardized testing play in the education system? What would have to change about how we use tests currently to make such tests useful?

3)   Discuss some of the embedded values of No Child Left Behind listed by Duffy et al.

4)   Outline a letter to a legislator about what changes you think should be made to NCLB.


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Send problems, comments or suggestions to:

California State University, Sacramento
College of Education
Department of Child Development

Updated: January, 2012

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