Early Development: Chances and Risks
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleSOW-PSB3DH40E
Credits (ECTS)4
CategoryBA (Bachelor)
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Social Sciences; Psychology;
PreviousNext 5
dr. A.M. Altgassen
Other course modules lecturer
dr. R. Beijers
Other course modules lecturer
dr. W.E. Frankenhuis
Other course modules lecturer
dr. G.J.T. Haselager
Other course modules lecturer
prof. dr. S. Hunnius
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2018
PER3  (04/02/2019 to 14/04/2019)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesNo
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-

After completing this course the student will:

  1. Have knowledge and understanding of the effects of early experience on socio-emotional development, the (biological) processes underlying these effects, and the possibilities to prevent negative developmental outcomes by early caregiving and preventive interventions;
  2. Be able to critically analyze recent literature on the course subjects by reflecting on the literature, drawing his/her own conclusions, and commenting on them in writing and/or orally.  
The prenatal and early postnatal years are a time during which neurobiological and behavioral development proceeds at a breathtaking pace. Development in this period is also highly sensitive to environmental influence. There is increasing evidence that early experience shapes long-term developmental outcomes.
This course focuses on the effects of early experience on socioemotional development. Special attention is given to the development of self-regulation, which plays a key role in the development of resilience and the emergence of psychopathology.
The first part of the course focuses on psychobiological processes in prenatal and early postnatal development: genetic and epigenetic processes, effects of prenatal stress, and the development of neurobiological systems underlying self-regulation. The impact of infant temperament on the quality of parenting is also addressed, with special attention to the phenomenon of "colic" or excessive crying in infants. Next, we turn to the role of the early parent-infant interaction and attachment in the development of resilience and psychopathology. Questions to be addressed in this context include: How and by what processes do early parent-infant interactions and attachment affect later development? Which qualities of the parent-child interaction deserve special attention and how can they be assessed, also in clinical practice? What are the most important determinants of parenting (e.g., parental personality and psychopathology; parental stress and support; child characteristics)? Which early intervention programs have been shown to be effective in enhancing the quality of parenting and child development?
Because the majority of infants spend a substantial part of their lives in non-parental child care nowadays, infants' experiences in child care centers and the effects thereof on development is included as a final topic in this course.

  • Written examination consisting of open-ended questions
  • Questions/discussion points based on the relevant literature and handed in by students before each session. The questions/discussion points are evaluated by the lecture with regard to number and quality.
Additional comments
As room space is limited, a registration cap may apply for this course. Make sure to register at your earliest convenience.
In case of too many enrollments Psychology students have priority over students from other faculties or universities.

At least a full year (60 ects) of prior study in the field of psychology or educational theory/ pedagogics.

Required materials
Recent scientific articles.

Instructional modes

plenary meetings (4 x 45 min) with lectures, video’s, and discussions, organized around a specific topic
Led by questions/discussion points submitted by students before each meeting; discussion of further implications.

Multiple choice
Test weight1
Test typeMultiple choice
OpportunitiesBlock PER3, Block PER4