Child and Adolescent Development for Medical Learners: Context of Development

Publication ID Published Volume
9184 July 2, 2012 8


This module (Familial, Extrafamilial, and Cultural Influences on Development) focuses on the “context” of human development, recognizing that the historical and cultural stage on which a human life unfolds is more than just a “backdrop” against which an individual’s biological growth and psychological development occur. The social milieu, which includes the influences of family, peers, media, school, racial/ethnic membership, etc., interacts reciprocally with the individual and is integrally related to developmental outcome.

This submission is one of six modules (Developmental Framework and Early Development, Developmental Neurobiology, Developmental Lines, Adolescent Identity Development, Context of Development, and Developmental Perspectives of Emotion and Illness) which can be used together as a complete course (Child and Adolescent Development for Medical Learners) or independently by topic. Each module uses teaching tools which include (for each lecture or teaching session) written objectives, lecture outline lecture text, clinical correlation (s) or case vignette (s), sample test questions, recent related research, after-class exercises or activities, audiovisual aids including some dedicated teaching clips or transcripts, bibliography, and PowerPoint. The Instructor’s Guide describes how this curriculum has been crafted, improved, updated, and evaluated over more than 15 years at one medical school and adopted/adapted for use at several other medical schools.

It is not unusual for medical learners to devalue course material deemed "soft science" even when the learner is psychologically sophisticated, particularly when taught concurrent with challenging and volume intensive courses requiring memorization of many details. Such was the case when this course was instituted at a large medical school 15 or more years ago. Because educational leaders felt the material to be essential to the learner's integration of the "biopsychosocial" approach to patient care, and also supported one of the course tenets (that improved self-understanding and self-reflection supports physician self-care and the doctor-patient relationship), course leaders undertook a process of course examination and improvement which is ongoing. Included in this submission are assessment samples from in-house course evaluations and also from other institutions exposed to the materials that support the success of the curriculum. The authors of this submission believe that the comprehensive course format utilizing a multi-media approach, lectures as well as after-class activities, case correlations, etc. appeals to almost learners. This submission is one module which can stand alone as a topic or be linked with the five other modules being submitted to form a complete "Child and Adolescent Development for Medical Learners" Curriculum.

Editor’s Note
This publication includes large downloadable files. If you experience difficulty downloading these files, please contact to receive a free DVD version via mail.


Eddins-Folensbee F, Harris T, Klein J, Martinez S, Folensbee R. Child and adolescent development for medical learners: context of development. MedEdPORTAL Publications. 2012;8:9184.

Educational Objectives

Familial Influences on Development

  1. Categorize social changes in recent years which have affected family systems.

  2. Identify the developmental stages of a family and be aware of key vulnerabilities of each stage.

  3. Identify the two major dimensions of parenting found to be most influential in a child’s overall development.

  4. Compare and contrast the four parenting styles that researchers have identified and know the developmental outcomes that have been associated with each of these parenting styles.

  5. Give examples of social class, ethnic and cultural differences in parenting styles.

  6. Broaden knowledge about the influence of siblings on development.

  7. Be aware of the immediate and long-term impact of family conflict/divorce on children, focusing on the factors that can influence the effects.

  8. Name some characteristics in parents and children that may increase the likelihood that they will abuse/be abused.

  9. Give examples of clinical situations where knowledge regarding familial influences on development will increase your effectiveness as a physician.

Extrafamilial Development

  1. Become familiar with statistics related to children’s use of media.

  2. Define TV literacy and recognize that children of young ages may be unable to draw accurate inferences about program content.

  3. Identify potential effects of televised violence on children including an increase in aggressive tendencies, an increase in “mean world beliefs”, and desensitization to “real life” violence.

  4. Critique the potential of media as a source for transmitting both positive and negative stereotypes.

  5. Learn effective strategies for limiting potential harmful effects of media.

  6. Give examples of evidence linking educational programs to increased prosocial conduct in children and increased cognitive gains in children.

  7. Compare and contrast Harlow’s findings to those reported for the 6 three year-old children found in 1945 abandoned in a concentration camp.

  8. Differentiate the social classifications of children using Terry’s sociometric techniques.

  9. Name the sociometric classification predicting deviant and  antisocial behavior later in life.

  10. Be aware of the contributors to a child’s acceptance, neglect, or rejection by peers.

  11. Compare and contrast friendship qualifications for different age children.

  12. Give examples of ways friends contribute to a child’s security, social support, and development of problem solving skills.

  13. Compare and contrast peers and parents in terms of exertion of influence on adolescents.

  14. Be familiar with the development of Harlow’s rhesus monkeys raised in “mother-only” contact and “peer-only” contact.

  15. Use knowledge of statistics related to schooling of children to “construct” an ideal elementary school classroom.

  16. Define the meaning of a school’s “informal curriculum."

  17. Identify risks associated with intensive academic curricula in preschools.

  18. Become familiar with the presented research data determining effective schooling.

  19. Identify potential risks for children making transitions to middle and/or high school.

  20. Recognize the impact of ethnic issues on schooling.

  21. Give examples of ways extrafamilial influences on children may impact medical care.

Cultural Development

  1. Give examples of the interplay of “culture” in the context of child development.

  2. Be able to place the continuous care and contact model of social development  in a cultural context.

  3. Be able to place the strategic model of social development in a cultural context.

  4. Using the examples given (including academic performance attitudes, children’s play differences, kibbutz children), compare and contrast cultural variations in child rearing.

  5. Illustrate with example  several cultural variations in parenting style.

  6. Identify contributions from studies of ethnic minority children in the United States on personal identity and self-esteem.

  7. Describe the effects of acculturation on personality.

  8. Recognize and discuss the interplay between biological and cultural contributors to personality development.


  • Developmental Context, Familial, Extra-Familial, Childhood


  1. 2003 "Teaching Child Development-Where to Start?", presented at the annual meeting, American Association of Directors of Psychiatry Residency Training
  2. 2006 "Teaching Development in Undergraduate and Graduate Medical Education", presented at the annual meeting, American Association of Directors of Psychiatry Residency Training
  3. 2006 "Integrating Neurobiology and Psychotherapy", presented at the annual meeting, American Association of Directors of Psychiatry Residency Training

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ISSN 2374-8265