By the end of the module students will demonstrate:
1. A systematic understanding of the keyissues in the field oftypical and atypical language development, including (a) the mechanisms/processes underlying acquisition, (b) the major theoretical approaches/proposals, and the research methods used to test these approaches. All of this understanding will be informed by research which is at the forefront of the relevant field: The module coordinator and other lecturing staff are all leading experimental child language acquisition researchers and have based the course around two textbooks (one by Professor Rowland, one by Dr Ambridge) which summarise all of the cutting edge research, theories and methods in the discipline.
2. Conceptual understanding allowing them to devise and sustain arguments (i.e., to argue for one or other theoretical proposal in both exam answers and the practical report poster) and to solve problems (i.e., to obtain answers to a current theoretical question in the practical study). This understanding will be based on research at the forefront of the discipline conducted by the teaching staff, all of whom are world-leading researchers in child language acquisition. In doing so, students will acquire the ability to evaluate and assess theories, and to critically debate issues in child language acquisition research
3. Conceptual understanding allowing them to describe and comment upon particular aspects of current research (i.e., to critically evaluate both theoretical proposals and research methodologies) in the domain of typical and atypical language development. This conceptual understanding will also allow students to appreciate the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge in this domain: Since it is impossible to observe a child''s language acquisition mechanism directly, one can only make inferences with regard to the nature of this mechanism on the basis of observable behaviour.
4. The ability to accurately deploy established techniques of enquiry within a discipline to initiate and carry out projects. Specifically, students will participate in and report (via a poster) an empirical study addressing a current issue at the forefront of language acquisition research. In producing the poster, students will learn to communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to both a specialist and non-specialist audience: Students are told to report their findings in the form of a poster suitable for a non-specialist psychology conference, but in such a way that it will also be informative for experts in the area.
5. The ability to manage their own learning. Throughout the course, it is emphasised that the lecture material alone is NOT sufficient to write a good exam answer and that students must make use of scholarly reviews (including the module textbooks) and -- in particular -- refereed research articles. Students will appreciate the importance of drawing conclusions only on the basis of full peer-reviewed journal articles.
6. The following transferable skills necessary for employment: (a) exercising of initiative and personal responsibility (as detailed above, students will be required to run their own project, and to conduct their own research for both the poster and exam answers). (b) decision making in complex and unpredictable contexts (students will have to make a decision about how to analyse complex experimental data, which is often very different to that expected). (c) the learning ability needed to undertake further training of a professional or equivalent nature (students will learn to work independently, and to carry out independent research. With regard to the particular subject matter, students will acquire learning skills and knowledge directly relevant to professional careers such as speech therapy, educational psychology and teaching).