Class Profile: Taber-Thomas psychology course focuses on application of material

Adolescent Development is a psychology class open for all majors to take. The class provides a focus on the development of identity, peer relationships and family relationships throughout adolescence. External implications on adolescent development such as culture, school and the media are also examined throughout the class. 

The developmental process is very complex and has lasting implications on the rest of an individual’s life. Adolescent Development mainly focuses on normal aspects of development, but some time is spent learning about abnormal development as well.

Visiting assistant professor Bradley Taber-Thomas is teaching the course this semester as well as in the spring, offering a hands-on learning approach to the material. 

Taber-Thomas is a developmental neuroscientist and incorporates a variety of material from his field into the class. 

“I am a developmental neuroscientist by trade,” Taber-Thomas said. “I intentionally try to bring in as many resources and materials that complement that from various areas of adolescent development which students are interested in.” 

When designing the curriculum for the class, Taber-Thomas aimed to incorporate material that students would truly enjoy. 

“The textbook I chose for the class has a very strong emphasis on social cultural factors that influence adolescent development … I have learned a lot more about social cultural factors which influence development by teaching this class, and hearing students’ comments, questions and experiences … which has led me to realize students enjoy talking about [it].” 

Taber-Thomas emphasized that Adolescent Development is a valuable class to take regardless of the student’s discipline. Students in all fields will interact with adolescents at some point in their career. 

“Regardless of what field you go into, if you’re interacting with other people, understanding who they and how they became who they are is relevant,” Taber-Thomas said. “Everyone has different experiences growing up that shape who we become. Material we examine throughout the course enables one to understand this. In so many fields you interact with adolescents whether it be education, social work, law, marketing, medicine, journalism … the list goes on and on.”

Senior history major Sarah Caulson is a student in Taber-Thomas’s class and finds the material to be useful for her future career in education. 

“I think the class will help me better understand the mindsets of my future students, which will hopefully make it easier for me to build rapport and meaningful relationships with each of them,” Caulson said. “I think this is key to getting young people excited and interested in not only learning about the subject being taught, but about life skills and values as well.” 

Sophomore psychology major Ariana Barone, also a student in Taber-Thomas’s class, finds Adolescent Development to be very engaging. 

“Dr. Taber-Thomas introduces overarching concepts while providing his students the freedom to take our work in the direction we find most interesting,” Barone said. “Personally, I like the emphasis that the class puts on education and its role in development. Dr. Taber-Thomas does a good job through the curriculum of expressing the importance to prioritize high standards for national education.”