Developmental and educational psychology (2019/2020)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Manuela Lavelli
Manuela Lavelli
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Sem. 1A, Sem. 1B

Lesson timetable

Go to lesson schedule

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding
1. Having a basic knowledge and understanding of developmental and learning processes in the different psychological domains (motor-perceptual, cognitive, communicative-linguistic, emotional, socio-relational) from neonatal life to adolescence.
2. Having a basic knowledge and understanding of the main theories explaining these processes, and related research methods.
3. Having a basic knowledge and understanding of factors, which can promote or, on the contrary, hinder individual developmental trajectories.

Applying knowledge and understanding
1. Being able to observe and interpret child behavior (the behavior of a given child in a given context) in the light of the acquired knowledge.
2. Being able to consider the relationship between child characteristics (individual factors and skills) and contextual characteristics (family, social and cultural factors) in order to understand individual differences in developmental trajectories, and to identify specific promotion factors.
3. Being able to apply the acquired knowledge to identify possible difficulties or disorders in different developmental domains (emotional-relational, cognitive, linguistic, motor) and develop targeted educational interventions.


After an introduction to fundamental concepts of Developmental Psychology, the course of the lessons will follow the child developmental process. Specifically, the following topics will be addressed:
- Introduction to Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Brain plasticity and the nature-nurture relationship in human development
- Neonatal period: continuity between prenatal and neonatal behaviors; newborn behavioral states; expressive and perceptual skills; infant pre-adapted to interact with human beings
- Infancy: emotional expression; early development of intersubjectivity and emotional regulation
- Infancy: milestones of motor development and cognition about the physical word: Piaget’s constructivist theory, and beyond: results from more recent studies
- Infancy: development of attachment and patterns of attachment: Bowlby-Ainsworth’s theory and current issues; patterns of attachment and emotional regulation styles
- Infancy: theories on language acquisition and development: Vygotskij and Bruner’s socio-cultural interactionist theory; comparison with other theories; Piaget-Vygotskij comparison
- Infancy: scripts, concepts and words; continuity between prelinguistic and linguistic communication; lexical and syntactic development
- Infancy and early childhood: development of conceptual self and complex emotions; social competence with peers and adults in nursery school and preschool contexts
- Early childhood: cognitive development: classic piagetian theory and following concerns; studies on the Theory of Mind and its development
- Early childhood: development of narrative thought/language and autobiographical memory
- Early childhood: development of graphic representation
- Childhood: entrance to primary school; cognitive development: classic piagetian theory, post-piagetians and human information processing (HIP) approach; neuroconstructivist approach
- Childhood: memory and working memory
- Childhood: development of executive functions and monitoring of cognitive processes
- Childhood: social and emotional development: executive functions and emotional regulation, behavioral difficulties; self-esteem; peer relationships
- Childhood and early adolescence: moral cognition, prosocial and aggressive behaviors; bullying
- Early adolescence: puberty: effects on development; role of monosexual groups of peers
- Adolescence: development tasks and current characteristics; functional and dysfunctional mentalization of sexuated body; psychological detachment from parents; role of peer group
- Adolescence: development of new representations of oneself; current concerns to the traditionl theories of identity formation; migrations and ethnic identity
- Adolescence: cognitive development: classic piagetian theory, following concerns, and theories of multiple intelligences
- Individual developmental trajectories: resilience vs. vulnerability; individual and environmental factors affecting the development of resilience vs. vulnerability

Didactic methods
During lessons, explanations supported by visual devises will be alternated with moments in which students will be actively engaged in discussions and analyses of research videos illustrative of concepts and issues addressed.

Exam texts
The preparation of the exam includes the study of (1) an handbook of Developmental Psychology, (2) a monograph, in order to deepen the study of a specific developmental period (infancy, school age, adolescence), and (3) a volume on resilience in individual developmental trajectories:
1) Caravita, S., Milani, L., & Traficante, D. (Eds.) (2018). Psicologia dello sviluppo e dell’educazione. Bologna: Il Mulino (esclusi i capitoli X, XIII, XV).
2) One of the following volumes (and other volumes that will be probably added), according to the personal interest:
A) Infancy
Lavelli, M. (2015, III reprint). Intersoggettività. Origini e primi sviluppi. Milano: Raffaello Cortina (only the introduction and the second part).
B) Childhood
Aureli, T., Bascelli, E., Camodeca, M., Di Sano, S. (2016, VII reprint). Il bambino in classe. Aspetti teorici e strumenti di valutazione. Roma: Carocci (no recurrent paragraphs ‘Evaluation tools’ and ‘Intervention tools’ in chapter 2).
C) Adolescence
Albiero P. (a cura di) (2015, II reprint). Il benessere psicosociale in adolescenza. Prospettive multidisciplinari. Roma: Carocci (no chapters 6 and 10).
3) Inguglia, C., Lo Coco, A. (2013). Resilienza e vulnerabilità psicologica nel corso dello sviluppo. Bologna: Il Mulino (no chapters 3 and 5).

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
2B) Aureli, T., Bascelli, E., Camodeca, M., Di Sano, S. Il bambino in classe. Aspetti teorici e strumenti di valutazione Roma: Carocci 2016 In alternativa ai volumi 2A e 2C. Paragrafi 'Strumenti di valutazione' e 'Strategie di intervento' ricorrenti nel capitolo 2: solo da leggere
2C) Albiero, P. (a cura di) Il benessere psicosociale in adolescenza. Prospettive multidisciplinari Roma: Carocci 2015 In alternativa ai volumi 2A e 2B. Capitoli 6 e 10 solo da leggere
2A) Lavelli, M. Intersoggettività. Origini e primi sviluppi Milano: Raffaello Cortina 2015 In alternativa ai volumi 2B e 2C. Capitoli 1 e 2 solo da leggere
1) Caravita, S., Milani, L., Traficante, D. (a cura di) Psicologia dello sviluppo e dell'educazione Bologna: Il Mulino 2018 Esclusi i capitoli X, XIII, XV
3) Inguglia, C., Lo Coco, A. Resilienza e vulnerabilità psicologica nel corso dello sviluppo Bologna: Il Mulino 2013 Capitoli 3 e 5 solo da leggere

Assessment methods and criteria

Written exam: the student will have two hours to answer to 4 open questions on topics illustrated in the three exam texts.
IMPORTANT! Because of the situation deriving from the Covid-19 emergency, the above examination modalities are modified for the summer (and probably autumn) 2020 sessions, in accordance with indications provided by UniVR, as follows:

The exam will be conducted in ORAL FORM, remotely, via Zoom connection. Registered students must therefore ensure that they have downloaded and activated access to the "Zoom client for meetings" software through their University credentials (by connecting to
The exam will consist of 4 brief, separate parts:
Part I: 1st question about the Handbook of Developmental and Educational Psychology;
Part II: 2nd question about the Handbook of Developmental and Educational Psychology;
Part III: 1 question about the volume of your choice according to the age group of interest;
Part IV: 1 question about the volume on psychological resilience.

Evaluation criteria
The students will have to demonstrate that they:
- have a basic knowledge and understanding of both developmental processes in different psychological domains, and main theories explaining these processes;
- are able to relate and process the acquired knowledge;
- are able to apply the acquired knowledge to to interpret a child’s behavior (a brief case);
- ability to communicate in a clear and effective way, by using adequate terminology and correct syntax.
Each part of the oral interview will be given a rating score out of 30; the final score will be the average of the four partial scores.

Teaching aids

  • pdf   Lez 10   (pdf, it, 407 KB, 14/10/19)
  • pdf   Lez 11-12   (pdf, it, 590 KB, 21/10/19)
  • pdf   Lez 1-2   (pdf, it, 298 KB, 26/09/19)
  • pdf   Lez 13   (pdf, it, 424 KB, 21/10/19)
  • pdf   Lez 14   (pdf, it, 258 KB, 28/10/19)
  • pdf   Lez 15-16   (pdf, it, 1238 KB, 28/10/19)
  • pdf   Lez 17   (pdf, it, 1405 KB, 11/11/19)
  • pdf   Lez 18   (pdf, it, 686 KB, 12/11/19)
  • pdf   Lez 19   (pdf, it, 304 KB, 13/11/19)
  • pdf   Lez 20   (pdf, it, 514 KB, 18/11/19)
  • pdf   Lez 21   (pdf, it, 329 KB, 18/11/19)
  • pdf   Lez 22   (pdf, it, 229 KB, 18/11/19)
  • pdf   Lez 23-24   (pdf, it, 735 KB, 24/11/19)
  • pdf   Lez 25   (pdf, it, 520 KB, 24/11/19)
  • pdf   Lez 26   (pdf, it, 211 KB, 02/12/19)
  • pdf   Lez 27   (pdf, it, 364 KB, 02/12/19)
  • pdf   Lez 3   (pdf, it, 448 KB, 30/09/19)
  • pdf   Lez 4-5   (pdf, it, 934 KB, 30/09/19)
  • pdf   Lez 6   (pdf, it, 249 KB, 06/10/19)
  • pdf   Lez 7   (pdf, it, 488 KB, 06/10/19)
  • pdf   Lez 8-9   (pdf, it, 491 KB, 14/10/19)