Great topic! This pandemic is certainly at the forefront of everyone's minds and I think we would be remiss to not address it on some level in our teaching and mentoring. As a professor in the field of public health, my colleagues and I are using it as a key vehicle to convey key concepts and theories that we want students to learn. Here are some examples of things we have done, which may be adapted to be more suitable for students in child development:
Clearly, some of these assignments and activities are less readily translatable to child development. I do think it is important, though, to gauge the extent to which our students feel comfortable discussing and reflecting on the current pandemic. Some students may see their classes as an escape from the constant barrage of troubling news and, thus, expecting them to confront this issue in their classes could be stressful. Conversely, a nice feature of online teaching is that it affords different opportunities for students' collective and individual reflection. Thus, we can still create a space for students who wish to engage in discussion of this issue while respecting the feelings of those who do not. Just some thoughts. I would love to hear what others are doing! Note: I would like to thank my colleagues in the MSU Division of Public Health (in particular, John Clements, Mark Valacak, Frances Downes, and Lydia Merritt) for their feedback in preparing this post.
RobeyRobey B. Champine, PhD, MS, MPHAssistant Professor of Public HealthMichigan State University | College of Human Medicine | Division of Public HealthWebsite
Hi Robey and Matt,
Robey, thanks for sharing this nice list of activities to consider. I could really see using the first part of the list the next time I teach Lifespan Development. I have been using your last point in my Child Development course and have an extra credit discussion board each week. I've enjoyed hearing about how students are responding to the pandemic and to the pivot to online learning. I have seen on another forum that instructors are surprised that students are still working. I am finding that many of my students are still working, some even working more hours now. That is helpful for understanding that the pandemic does not necessarily mean that students now have increased time to juggle these new demands. I do wish I was hearing from more of my students though. I made the discussions extra credit, not mandatory, because I didn't think it fair to add something to their grading rubric that wasn't there before.Matt, I think that thinking about how to support youth emotionally at times like these is incredibly important. I had already covered the social/emotional topics in my child development course when we stopped face to face teaching. Now that we are in the cognitive section of the course, I have been focusing on children's cognitive abilities at different ages. There is a resource I had already been using when covering Piaget that talks about how young children interpret the news. For example, young children who have difficulty with abstract concepts may not understand probabilities (e.g., that a tornado or violent event is unlikely to happen to them). However, the pandemic is so very different as it is affecting all of us. I think that understanding how children might think about and process these events can help with the emotional support we provide them.