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Accreditata MUR con D.M. 02/12/2005
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Scienze e tecniche dell’educazione e dei servizi per l’infanzia, classe L-19

Fundamentals of psychology from childhood to adulthood


Anno accademico: 2021/2022



Crediti: ECT: 6 CFU

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Sara Mori, cognitive-behavioural psychologist and psychotherapist, obtained her PhD in Evaluation of Educational Systems and Processes at the University of Genoa. She was an expert in Test Theory and Techniques at the University of Psychology in Florence, where she completed a second level master’s degree in School Psychology and Learning Disorders.

Since 2005, she has been working with groups both in training and self-help and clinical contexts, having worked as a co-teacher at the “Scuola Cognitiva” in Florence.

Since 2011, she has been working at Indire in school improvement projects and in the promotion and evaluation of innovation in class for the development of soft skills and inclusion. Since 2013, she has been collaborating with IUL, first as a didactic tutor in Postgraduate and Master courses on the Advisor figure for the improvement, then as a lecturer in Master and Degree courses in the field of psychology and evaluation.

Over the years she has carried out research into the cognitive and emotional variables involved in learning and school improvement.

She is the author of several contributions and articles in the fields of educational psychology, clinical psychology and experimental pedagogy.

The course is organised in two modules, that provide an overview of the main study topics of psychology in order to foster an holistic approach during the educators training, with particular attention to the intergenerational dimension. Particular attention will be paid to the matter of method, in order to develop the awareness of a scientific approach to psychological phenomena at the expense of an attitude more typical of a “naive psychology”.

Below the structure of the modules is detailed.


  • Module 1 – The Scientific Method in Psychology: The Brain and Emotions (Reference Manual chapters 1; 2;10;11; 13.3)

The topics covered are:

  • History of psychology: from its birth to the present day (I and II);
  • Research in psychology: methods;
  • Neuroscience and behaviour;
  • Emotions;
  • Motivation


Study materials will be made available online relating to: the fields of intervention of psychology; the lateralisation of the brain; psychology observation methods during childhood, adolescence and adulthood; the development of transversal competences with a focus on social-emotional competence and the monitoring of emotions in care relationships; and readings on the development of social-emotional competence and the concept of attachment.

In order to encourage active reflection on psychological issues based on one’s own experiences, the first module proposes a thematic forum: “Managing emotions from children to adults: comparing methods and experiences”.

1 Webinar with the lecturer: “Scientific psychology” . During the virtual meeting the course and the activities to be carried out in the two modules will be explained. The question of the scientific method in psychology and its application in different fields will be analysed.

1 Webinar with the tutor: during the lecture will be discussed and analysed the topics emerged in the first forum, collected the students’ needs and clarified potential doubts on the first e-tivity.

E-tivity: The study of phenomena: investigating a topic of interest. A guided analysis of a psychological topic of interest through scientific materials.  (The activity can also be carried out in groups).


  • Module 2 – From the Individual to the Group (reference book chapters 5; 6;3; 7.4; 8- 9)

The topics covered are:

  • Learning;
  • Memory;
  • Intelligence, thinking and creativity;
  • From group to team;
  • Communication: verbal and non-verbal language (I and II)


Study materials will be made available online relating to: the definition of group and team and the typical dynamics of helping relationships; materials on individual and group creative problem solving; parenting support; learning and memory; and neuroscience aspects.

An in-depth forum is planned on the theme: “Let’s share a film that deals with a topic of my interest related to psychology: what it is about and why I chose it. A guided analysis. “The activity is suggested as a synthesis of a group choice, discussed and reported through different points of view.

1 Webinar with the tutor: the aim of the webinar is to start from a reflection on the themes of the films that emerged in the forum and from the assignments proposed in the first e-tivity, in order to structure the second e-tivity.

E-tivity: a hypothesis and a study method for the observation of the chosen topic (The activity can be carried out individually and in group). (For details see section in itinere assessment methods).

Suggested final e-activity: Concept maps (see details in Modalities of ongoing assessment).

The course of General Psychology aims to illustrate the basic principles, problems and methods of the science of psychology. In particular it deepens the study of the mind, along with such aspects of mind as perception, cognition, emotion, and behavior. Particular attention is given to the aspect of the methodology in psychological research.

The course is organised in two modules that aim to develop the awareness of a scientific approach to psychological phenomena. They address the topics of the cognitive and emotional aspects in human behaviour and the typical dynamics from the individual to the group.

The e-tivities and forum proposed aim to develop the ability to analyse the typical situations in childcare (nurseries, child communities, centers for parenting support, play centers, etc.), adolescence and adulthood.

The course contributes to developing the student’s competences in the ‘Area of psychological disciplines’.


Knowledge and understanding”

The course aims to train the student’s ability to place psychological issues within the broader context of the human sciences, investigating typical situations in childcare (nursery schools, children’s communities, parenting support centres, play centres, etc.), adolescence and adulthood. It also provides the tools to understand the training and educational processes with particular attention to early and late childhood.


With regard to ‘Ability to apply knowledge and understanding’, particular attention will be paid to the development of a conscious and critical attitude towards the observation of the cognitive and emotional variables that characterise psychological phenomena throughout life, from early childhood to adulthood.


The student, through the activities proposed in the course, will be able to develop the ability to develop educational paths, methods of observation of human behaviour and educational activities in the main services aimed at children and other ages of life with respect to one or more psychological models of reference. The aim is also to develop organisational skills in continuous education processes, also through the use of media and multimedia technologies.


Competences related to the “Area of didactic disciplines and integration of the disabled” will also be deepened.  With regard to “Knowledge and Understanding” the typical dynamics of the care relationship, that characterises the educational relationship, will be deepened. Furthermore, skills useful for the “Ability to apply knowledge and understanding” will be developed through the analysis of transversal skills, with particular attention to the socio-emotional and problem solving ones, in order to foster the ability to work in groups in an effective and proactive way.

A.Knowledge and understanding

  • Knowledge of the main psychological theories.
  • Knowledge of the main scientific methods for observing psychological phenomena.
  • Knowledge of the main studies on emotional and cognitive psychological variables.
  • Understanding the functionality of the mind with a focus on early and late childhood and continuity across the life span.
  • Understanding of group dynamics.
  • Understanding of the dynamics of helping relationships.


B. Applied knowledge and understanding

  • Ability to create a method of observation to investigate psychological phenomena of interest from early childhood to adulthood.
  • Ability to use films to read psychological phenomena.


C.Autonomy of judgement

  • Ability to choose methods and tools useful for the study of basic psychological phenomena according to the peculiarities of the context.
  • Ability to choose appropriate sources for the study of phenomena of interest.

D. Communication skills

  • Ability to expound on the main scientific-methodological issues affecting psychology using the specialist language of the field, also including group work.


E. Learning capacity

Ability to independently investigate the main scientific-methodological issues concerning psychology through both the use of traditional tools and those offered by new technologies.

Both individual and group learning will be promoted.

  • Use of advanced textbooks, knowledge of topics of major interest in the field of psychology.

Students will be guided to the use of bibliographic resources not only in the traditional sense (paper), but through a critical analysis of online resources and materials made available on the platform.


  • Professional approach to one’s own work and possession of greater competence in situations requiring a psychological interpretation in typical contexts of the educator and youth worker, from early childhood to adulthood. Ability to collect and interpret data useful to determine autonomous judgements.

Case studies and practical examples from everyday life will be presented in order to highlight psychological dynamics and the reading of phenomena through a scientific approach.


  • Ability to collect and interpret data useful for making independent judgements in the context of articles and researches on psychological issues and to communicate information and solutions to specialist and non-specialist interlocutors.    Students will be provided with guidance and methodologies useful for organising scientific research on topics of psychological interest.


  • Ability to undertake further study in the field of psychology with a high degree of autonomy, having acquired a general background in the subject. As it is a General Psychology course, basic topics useful for developing more specific knowledge of psychology, education, clinical psychology and social psychology will be covered.    Students will be helped to organise their study in a fruitful way by tools and methods fostering the ‘learning to learn’.


  • 12 recorded video lessons of about ½ hour each, available on the platform.
  • 3 synchronous platform meetings.
  • Podcasts of all the above mentioned video lessons.



  • 1 course orientation forum;
  • 2 thematic follow-up forums (1 per module);
  • Possibility to carry out assignments in groups.
  • 2 structured e-activities and a suggested final e-tivity (as described in the section “in itinere assessment methods).



Teaching materials are provided for each module: in-depth thematic studies, articles and slides by the lecturer, open access readings, online resources, reference bibliography, etc.

The course includes the study of the chapters of the General Psychology Handbook recommended as a basic textbook for the course: each topic is described in detail in the slides explained during the lectures, which refer to the handbook and are considered as study materials. In addition to these, each module will include in-depth study materials that will be considered as part of the course of study and discussion of the final examination.


Recommended reference manual for the course:

  • Psicologia generale – by Robert S. Feldman – McGraw-Hill (Italian edition edited by G. F. Amoretti and M.R. Ciceri), Milan, Italy, 3rd updated edition (2017) ISBN: 9788838615580).
    The handbook also gives access to online self-assessment tests on the publisher’s platform.

E-books dealing with the most up-to-date psychological approaches in different fields of everyday life:

  • Qui ed ora: strategie quotidiane di mindfulness by R. Siegel, 2016, Erickson.
  • A pensar bene si vive meglio by R.A Harper and A. Ellis 2017, Erickson.


Books of interest for the study dedicated to the training of educators in early and late childhood:

  • Lo sviluppo della competenza emotiva nella prima infanzia. Il ruolo della comunicazione affettiva e delle pratiche educative by D. Scarzello, 2012, Unicopli.

Attaccamento ed inserimento by S. Mantovani, L.Restuccia Saitta, C.Bove, 2016, Franco Angeli.

Access to the final examination is subject to the following e-activities:

Each of the activities will be assessed individually, even where there is a group exercise, in which the role of each participant must be specified (e.g. in which phases they actively participated).

The overall aim of the activities is to develop the student’s competence to observe and reflect on psychological phenomena from an analytical and scientific point of view.


In this case, the assessment criteria refer to: relevance of the topic; accuracy of the reflection; content expounded; collaboration in all phases of the activity.


  • For Module 1 (in itinere activity):

WebQuest/bibliography on a topic that the student finds particularly interesting, related to psychology. This activity leads students to carry out research on the Web, with the aim of finding out more information on a particular topic. Through this activity, students acquire the skills to search for information on the web and select the most relevant ones, explaining the reasons for their choice.


  • For module 2 (in itinere activity):

The application of the scientific method: the student is asked to illustrate a research hypothesis and a method of observation of the topic explored in the first module. In this way it will be possible to apply in a concrete way what has been learnt in the first module of  the course, preparing for what will be done for the research thesis. The activity can also be carried out in groups.


Final activity, for self-assessment and exam preparation (which is highly recommended given the complexity of the topics discussed): students are asked to create a mindmap (with the tool they consider appropriate) of the topics covered in the course. Maps are an important tool to develop the competence of “learning to learn”: in this case, students are asked to create it as the final result of their study course and to illustrate it during the exam.

The assessment of learning will take place through an oral interview on the course contents and on the paper(s) presented. The grade (min 18, max 30 with possible honours) is determined by the level of performance for each of the following dimensions of the oral interview: mastery of content, appropriateness of definitions and theoretical references, clarity of argument, command of specialist language.