First cycle
degree courses
Second cycle
degree courses
Single cycle
degree courses
School of Psychology
Course unit
PSO2043582, A.A. 2019/20

Information concerning the students who enrolled in A.Y. 2019/20

Information on the course unit
Degree course Second cycle degree in
PS1090, Degree course structure A.Y. 2017/18, A.Y. 2019/20
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Number of ECTS credits allocated 9.0
Type of assessment Mark
Course unit English denomination COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
Department of reference Department of Developmental Psychology and Socialisation
E-Learning website
Mandatory attendance No
Language of instruction Italian
Single Course unit The Course unit can be attended under the option Single Course unit attendance
Optional Course unit The Course unit can be chosen as Optional Course unit

Teacher in charge FRANCESCA SIMION M-PSI/04

ECTS: details
Type Scientific-Disciplinary Sector Credits allocated
Core courses M-PSI/04 Psychology of Development and Psychology of Education 9.0

Course unit organization
Period First semester
Year 1st Year
Teaching method frontal

Type of hours Credits Teaching
Hours of
Individual study
Lecture 9.0 63 162.0 No turn

Start of activities 07/10/2019
End of activities 18/01/2020
Show course schedule 2019/20 Reg.2017 course timetable

Examination board
Board From To Members of the board
10 2019 01/10/2019 30/09/2020 SIMION FRANCESCA (Presidente)
DI GIORGIO ELISA (Membro Effettivo)
GERACI ALESSANDRA (Membro Effettivo)
LEO IRENE (Membro Effettivo)
VALENZA ELOISA (Membro Effettivo)

Prerequisites: The students should have already acquired during the courses of the previous three years for obtaining the Bachelor Degree, the following basic knowledge of Developmental Psychology concerning: sensory, perceptual, motor, cognitive and linguistic development.

In addition, the students should possess the basic knowledge of the following cognitive functions: Attention, memory, executive functions, and language derived from the Course of General Psychology.
Target skills and knowledge: The lessons will be aimed to explain the theories and the methods that have been recently proposed to study the development of the cognitive system. More specifically the different perspectives on the origin and development of the architecture of mind will be reviewed. The role of the genetic endowment, maturation, and individual experience will be examined to explain the relationship between genotype and phenotype.

Starting from the approach of Cognitive Science and Human Information Processing the course will review the evidence in favor of the Innatistic theory. The main emphasis will be devoted to the Neo-constructivism and Neuro-Constructivism.
Classic theories and the more recent approaches regarding cognitive development will be presented
Examination methods: The written examination administered to the students will include 4 open questions that are aimed at testing students knowledge about the main topics of the course.

90 minutes will be given to the students to answer the 4 questions.

The evaluation of the written examination will be integrated with the evaluation of the paper presentation only for those students that decided to present a paper.
Assessment criteria: The evaluation will take place on the basis of the following criteria :

1) accuracy in the comprehension of the contents;
2) mastery and ability to link different aspects of the topics presented in the course.
3) clarity, consistency and completeness of the arguments.
Course unit contents: 1) Domain-general and domain-specific theories of cognitive development. Deterministic and probabilistic epigenesis From classic theories of cognitive development to cognitive science models and Human Information Processing models.(13 hours)
2) Techniques and experimental paradigms for studying cognitive processing during development from birth to childhood (10)
3) Nativistic and modular theories of mind ( 10 hours)
3) The Developmental cognitive neuroscience approach to cognition
5) Neo and Neurourocostructivism (10 hours)
6) The origin and development of the social brain (10)
Planned learning activities and teaching methods: Slides and videos will be presented during the lessons.
All the videos and slides will be inserted in the MOODLE platform.
Students will be required to read " target papers" and to give an oral presentation followed by a general discussion that will involve all the other students in the class.

The students' presentation will be rendered available in MOODLE platform.

Students' oral presentations will integrate the final evaluation.
Additional notes about suggested reading: Students can integrate their preparation with all these materials
inserted in MOODLE platform:

1) The slides summarizing the contents of the lessons.

2 ) The target papers, the readings the ppt of the students presentations.

3 The videos presented during the lessons.
Textbooks (and optional supplementary readings)
  • 1) Macchi Cassia V., Valenza E., Simion F., Lo sviluppo della mente umana,. Bologna: Il Mulino, 2012. CHAPTERS : 4-5-6-7-8-9 Cerca nel catalogo
  • Bornstein,M.H. and Lamb M.H., Cognitive Development. New York: Psychology Press, 2011. Chapters 2 and 5. Chapter 2 Lerner et al. Concepts and Theories of human development; Chapter Johnson, M.H., Developmental Neuroscience Cerca nel catalogo
  • Karmiloff-Smith, Nativism vs Neuroconstructivism: Rethinking the study of developmental disorders. Developmental Psychology,: Wiley Library, 2009. Jan;45(1):56-63. doi: 10.1037/a0014506.
  • Johnson, S.P, Neocostructivism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Chapter 16 : Simion,F., Leo,I., A neocostructivistic approach to the emergence of a face processing system Cerca nel catalogo

Innovative teaching methods: Teaching and learning strategies
  • Lecturing
  • Laboratory
  • Interactive lecturing
  • Working in group
  • Questioning
  • Action learning
  • Work-integrated learning
  • Peer feedback
  • Active quizzes for Concept Verification Tests and class discussions
  • Use of online videos
  • Loading of files and pages (web pages, Moodle, ...)
  • Learning journal

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Good Health and Well-Being Quality Education Gender Equality Decent Work and Economic Growth Reduced Inequalities Partnerships for the Goals