Major Principles of Human Development


It is possible to list hundreds of principles of human development. This book will settle for four:

  1. Development is relatively orderly. Therefore, by understanding how characteristics develop, we can make relatively accurate and useful predictions about learners and design effective instructional strategies based on our knowledge of development.

  2. While the pattern of development is likely to be similar, the outcomes of developmental processes and the rate of development are likely to vary among individuals. Since development is a result of the interaction between heredity and environment, and since heredity and environment are different for different people, it seems obvious that individuals will encounter factors that make them different from other individuals. As a result, we can expect individual differences in developmental characteristics and variation in the ages when people will experience events that will influence their development.

  3. Development takes place gradually. While some changes occur in a flash of insight, more often it takes weeks, months, or years for the person to undergo the changes that result in the display of developmental characteristics.

  4. There are many different and sometimes conflicting ways to explain human development, and each is valid to some extent. Some theories are undoubtedly better than others; but no theory should be regarded as the absolute truth. When two theories are in conflict regarding some aspect of human development, they are simply two approaches to explain the same set of phenomena; and we can derive valid insights from both. Indeed, it is often the conflict between two theories that leads to more valid insights. For example, conflict between behaviorist and constructivist approaches to motivation led to the development of attribution theory as a way to explain and predict motivation. While it is not true that "one theory is as good as the next," educators can profit from understanding several approaches to development and applying them to educational problems.

Online Links:

Human Development


Child Development Basics

This web site is designed to help parents know what to expect from their children as they mature. The information is useful and clear.



Click on a topic from the following list, or use your web browser to go where you want to go: