Essay Outline

The Theory Application Project offers you the opportunity to creatively apply your understanding of the theories and developmental stages covered in this course to a movie character of your choice. You will watch one of the movies listed below from the perspective of a developmental theorist. This gives you an opportunity to dig deeper into one of the major theories/theorist we studied this semester and apply that theory in a more concrete manner. Please choose only ONE theory or theorist to focus on. You may reference other theories/theorists, but you must focus on ONE overall theory or theorist for the paper. Make sure that you state which theory and movie character you will be using in your introduction paragraph. You will also include a solid description of the theory in the first few paragraphs to give the rest of the paper context. Choose only one character to focus on. Pretend you are writing a case study on the character from the perspective of the theory that you choose. Below are some examples of movies broken down by developmental stage.


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Boyhood (2014) – R

My Girls (1991) – PG

We the Animals (2018) – R

Parenthood (1989) – PG13

Akeelah and the Bee (2006) – PG

Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood:

Lady Bird (2017) – R

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) – PG13

Our Song (2000) – R

Real Women Have Curves (2002) – PG13

The Notebook (2004) – PG13

Raising Victor Vargas (2002) – R

Beautiful Boy (2018) – R

Early and Middle Adulthood:

Parenthood (1989) – PG13

Eat, Pray, Love (2010) – PG13

Dan in Real Life (2007) – PG13

The Pursuit of Happiness (2006) – PG13

The Squid and the Whale (2005) – R

Soul Food (1997) – R

The Father of the Bride (1991) – PG

Stand and Deliver (1988) – PG

Late Adulthood:

It’s Complicated (2009) – R

The Notebook (2004) – PG13

The Bucket List (2007) – PG13

Driving Miss Daisy (1989) – PG

Up (2009) – PG

Hope Springs (2012) – PG13

Examples of developmental theories/theorist include the following: Erikson’s Psychological Theory (Stages); Learning Theories (Behaviorism/Skinner); Social-Cognitive Theory (Bandura); Cognitive Theories (Piaget); Socialcultural Theory (Vygotsky); Information Processing Theory; Ethology and Evolutionary Biological Psychology; and Ecological Systems Theory (Bronfenbrenner).

It is strongly recommended that you choose your theory/theorist before watching the movie and do enough research to feel comfortable with the theory/theorist. You will have to use outside sources beyond the textbook to get a more comprehensive understanding to the theory/theorist. You will then be able to find solid examples of the observed developmental stages that fit the theory. You can choose to watch a movie other than those listed above, but you must get approval from your instructor. If you do not get approval, you will not earn credit for the project. Please know that some of these movies have offensive language, graphic scenes, and so on. It is fully your responsibility to do research into the film content before viewing it if you are concerned about these issues. I accept no responsibility for any negative impacts these movies may have on you, because it is up to you to make an informed decision about which movie to watch.

Your paper should have a strong integration of both theory and movie excerpts throughout the paper. I do not want a summary of the movie. I want an explanation of the observed developmental stages presented in the movie and examples to support them. For each example you provide, please say how or why that example fits the theory. If a particular example does not fit the model, please include a few sentences about how it does not fit. There will likely be some parts of the movie or the characters that do not fit the model well. In this case, feel free to talk a bit about another theory/theorist that might better explain the developmental stage.

Cite your source throughout the paper and provide a reference page, all of which MUST be in correct APA format. Please use, The Purdue OWL, or your home college writing lab if you are not familiar with APA. As part of APA style, you will include a cover page, reference page, headers with page numbers, 12-point Times New Roman font, 1-ince margins, double spaced, and so forth. There is no need to include an abstract.

Similar to your academic essays, The Theory Application Project is run through TurnItIn after it is submitted to the assignment folder. TurnItIn alerts instructors to the possibility of plagiarism, but also provides you with a similarity score. You may not have a similarity score of more than 20%. If you have a similarity score above 20%, please correct this by doing more paraphrasing (you must still cite when paraphrasing) in your essay and resubmitting it prior to the due date listed in the Course Schedule.

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