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SPE1052 : Brain and Behaviour Across the Lifespan I: Developmental and Social Psychology

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Faye Smith
  • Lecturer: Mrs Linda Jose, Dr Nick Riches
  • Owning School: Education, Communication & Language Sci
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 20.0


•       To give an overview of psychological and sociological factors affecting communication across the lifespan, through 3 strands:

Introduction to Psychology:
•       To introduce foundation concepts from cognitive and developmental psychology
•       To explore and evaluate different psychological theories relating to development
•       To understand important cognitive changes across the lifespan
•       To develop reporting skills and practice through writing essays, observational reports and logs, and giving presentations.

Social Interaction, Contexts and the Sociology of Communication Impairment:
•       To provide a practical introduction to the theories of how we perceive ourselves and others and how this influences our interpretation of behaviour and situations, particularly in relation to clinical practice.
•       To consider the influence of social contexts on behaviour and the role of demographic and cultural factors.
•       To consider cognitive and psychosocial consequences of ageing and disability.
•       To provide students with the opportunity to observe, analyse and evaluate interactions between individuals and groups, considering the importance of the environmental context and the respective roles of the individuals.

Child Development and Speech Language Acquisition:
•       To outline the stages and processes in the development of the child, exploring both cognitive and social factors that influence the course of development.
•       To provide an introduction to children’s speech and language development.
•       To provide an opportunity to observe and interact with typically developing children and evaluate children’s language, social, cognitive and motor development through a Child Study.
•       To develop awareness of developmental norms in early childhood and of methods for comparing an individual child to those norms.
•       To apply appropriate methods for recording, transcribing and analysing children’s speech and language.

In addition, students develop their academic skills through this module, including essay writing, critical appraisal oral presentations, debating and report writing.

For students studying the clinical programmes (BSc Speech & Language Therapy and Masters of Speech & Language Sciences), the HCPC Standards of Proficiency are of relevance. This module addresses aspects of the following standards but is not the only module to do so:
2.6 understand the importance of and be able to obtain informed consent
13.8 understand linguistics and phonetics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics and all levels of typical processing
13.10 understand psychology as relevant to lifespan development and change, normal and impaired communication and psychological and social wellbeing
13.11 understand sociology in relation to the practice of speech and language therapy, including its application to educational, health and workplace settings and within multi-cultural contexts
14.4 be able to gather appropriate information
14.5 be able to select and use appropriate assessment techniques
14.6 be able to undertake and record a thorough, sensitive and detailed assessment, using appropriate techniques and equipment
14.9 be able to analyse and critically evaluate information collected
14.13 be aware of a range of research methodologies
14.14 be able to evaluate research and other evidence to inform their own practice

Outline Of Syllabus

Introduction to Psychology:
•       Theories of development
•       Perception, attention and memory
•       Changes across the lifespan
•       Nature-nurture debate
•       Psychology of language
•       Workshops on academic writing, critical appraisal and referencing

Social Interaction, Contexts and the Sociology of Communication Impairment:
•       Sense of self and personality
•       Intuition and social cognitive biases
•       Social and professional interactions
•       Group formation, structure and decision making
•       Influence of social contexts
•       Psychosocial consequences of ageing and disability
•       Discrimination and prejudice

Child Development and Speech Language Acquisition:
•       Overview of stages and aspects of development, focussing on first five years of life
•       Stages and sequences of first language and speech development in children from infancy through to adolescence
•       Overview of bilingual language acquisition
•       Development of social skills and importance of play
•       Psychology of learning
•       Introduction to methods used to study children’s development
•       Introduction to techniques to identify phonetic and phonological patterns in child speech, both typical and disordered.
•       Introduction to methods to collect, transcribe and analyse spontaneous language samples
•       Introduction to child language observations and related professional issues in preparation for the Child Study, which is based around observations of a young child (1;6 – 4;6), usually made in their home.

In relation to the RCSLT curriculum guidance, this module provides opportunities for students to develop a sound understanding of psychology covering many aspects related to 4.4.2, including: theoretical frameworks in psychology, psychological development and change and applications of social and cultural factors to speech and language therapy practice. It also incorporates sociolinguistics (4.4.1) and genetics (4.4.3). Within the child development part of the module, aspects related to phonetics and linguistics (4.4.1) with a specific focus on phonetics and clinical applications, general linguistics and clinical applications and speech and language acquisition and change over the lifespan and aspects related to psychological and social sciences (4.4.2), there is a focus on psychological development and change and social development are taught.
This module contributes to the key graduate capabilities around advanced communication skills (4.2.1A) and supports the development of partnerships with service users, families and carers (4.2.2B).

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture281:0028:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion220:0040:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture152:0030:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion160:0060:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical141:0014:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading156:0056:00N/A
Guided Independent StudySkills practice42:008:00Preparation for presentations and debate
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops21:002:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork128:0028:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1134:00134:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Knowledge outcomes are primarily addressed through lecture materials and guided reading/independent study.
Skills outcomes are addressed through workshops, fieldwork and class activities e.g. presentations and debates. Teaching involves a range of practical elements e.g. observing interaction sessions and conducting a practical project (Child Study). Fieldwork enables application of practical skills and theoretical knowledge learned in the classroom and in private study.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A25Psychology: 2000 words on key debate in field of psychology
Report2M20Observational Report: Evaluation of a video-recorded clinical interaction. Up to 3 A4 pages double-spaced.
Reflective log2A5ReflectiveLog:5 exercises encourage reflection on lecture content using clinical scenarios. Reports have a page limit one A4 sheet
Report2A50Child Study Report: 3500 words. includes phonetic/phonological and linguistic analysis.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay1MPsychology formative assignment
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Knowledge outcomes are assessed through the essays. Skills outcomes are promoted by setting a formative essay mid-term in semester 1 and providing timely feedback for students to apply this in their summative essay. The reflective log exercises encourage students to reflect on main knowledge outcomes from certain sessions and reflect on clinical applications. Each exercise is essentially a question for the students to answer that help them to reflect on some of the lecture content and put the techniques into practice e.g. short report on group therapy observation, completing and reflecting on self-perception inventory. Observational report assesses one of the main skill outcomes.

The child study report is a substantial, integrated piece of work feeding into both theoretical and clinical skills important for speech and language scientists. The fieldwork itself and the self-directed study required to complete the fieldwork and analyse a present the resulting data ensure students are using both practical skills and theoretical knowledge, and are synthesising across a range of fields of enquiry and data sources.

The majority of the teaching and assessment preparation for the child study report takes place in Semester 1, although the final report is submitted in Semester 2. For this reason, the assignment credits are balanced equally between Semester 1 and Semester 2.

Reading Lists