Development Grant Brings New Child Development Class into Honors College Curriculum

During the spring semester, students in the Honors College were offered a brand-new psychology class, Honors Social Development in Childhood. The class, taught by Jennifer Bohanek of the Psychology Department, is a smaller, honors version of a non-Honors class of the same name.

The class was realized when Bohanek was awarded a course development grant after the Honors College put out a call for small, honors-specific sections of larger classes. Bohanek was one of two professors to receive such an award. Bohanek and her department also received a monetary reward alongside the grant.

“It’s really a great opportunity for the students,” Bohanek says. “Like a lot of psychology classes, it attracts lots of people across campus.”

The class curriculum focuses on relationships and the influence of family on child development, psychology, and temperament.

The coursework is largely interactive and student-led. Students analyze and discuss research articles during class and host guest speakers, including statistical geneticists and other industry professionals. They also take several observation tours at the Child Development Lab, including one hosted by Dr. Jordan Booker.

“I integrate lots of research in terms of conversations and narration, conversation with peers and siblings, and storytelling,” Dr. Booker says. Much of Booker’s hands-on research has to do with parents and children within Columbia, and how environment, race, and family relationships play into childrens’ relationships and agency.

Within Bohanek’s Honors class, students get an in-depth look at childhood development, psychology, and social relationships, and how these play a part in their community and the children within it.

“What surprises the students most is how capable children are, from a young age,” Bohanek says. “Even as infants.”

“Without the development grant, [the Honors section of the class] wouldn’t have ever happened,” Bohanek says.

Bohanek will teach the class again in Spring 2022.