Singapore University of Social Sciences

Perspectives on Child Study

Perspectives on Child Study (ECE262)


Throughout the past century, child development theories have become the dominant source of knowledge informing early childhood curricula and pedagogy. ECE262, provides a more detailed understanding of how we study and understand young children’s development and learning. While theories are helpful, they are not absolute. Students are introduced to research paradigms, assumptions and key methods used to study children, so as to appreciate and be prepared to work with human diversity in their classrooms. The course is largely chronological, beginning with early humanistic conceptions of early childhood education created by Pestalozzi and Froebel. This is followed by the origins of Hall’s child-study movement, the subsequent emergence of disparate bodies of research focusing on the behavioural, cognitive, moral, emotional or psychoanalytical factors, until the more recent ecological and socio-cultural views of human learning and sociology of childhood.

Level: 2
Credit Units: 5
Presentation Pattern: EVERY JULY
E-Learning: BLENDED - Learning is done ENTIRELY online using interactive study materials in Canvas. Students receive guidance and support from online instructors via discussion forums and emails. There are no face-to-face sessions. If the course has an exam component, this will be administered on-campus.


  • Early conceptions of early childhood curriculum and their underlying beliefs about young children.
  • 20th century Child Study Movement and the origins of developmental psychology
  • Norms and exceptions
  • Neuroscience research
  • Evolution of methods of studying child development
  • Assumptions underlying different methods of studying young children
  • Major child development theories in these key domains: Intelligence,Language development and learning, Creativity, Social and emotional development, Moral development, Self and identity
  • Influence of child development theories on early childhood policies and practices
  • Child observation techniques
  • Teaching as a relational, reflective and interactive endeavour
  • Equity issues
  • Communicating child development knowledge to families

Learning Outcome

  • Distinguish between the various historical perspectives on child development and learning
  • Explain theoretical views and assumptions about child development and learning
  • Interpret curricular and pedagogical practices and relate them to theoretical assumptions
  • Examine strategies commonly used to support young children’s learning and development
  • Compare strengths and limitations of theoretical views
  • Assess one’s teaching philosophy and classroom practices
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