Professor of Education

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Linda S. Gottfredson

Curriculum Vitae and Publications

Career Theory Corner

Syllabi for Current and Recent Courses:

Homo sapiens sapiens: What makes us "human"? (Educ 391, a Freshman Honors Colloquium)

Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection unsettled devoutly-held beliefs about what it means to be human: our origins, obligations, and special place among all living creatures. Evolutionary thinking still provokes strong opposition in some communities, but it has become the guiding paradigm in the biological sciences. What can evolutionary science teach us, however, about what it means to be human-not just a hairless ape with opposable thumbs and deadlier technology? The new field of evolutionary psychology is producing some intriguing answers-and even more interesting questions. It marshals many kinds of evidence, from prehistoric "bones and stones" to self-reported behavior in intimate relationships, to explain how humans evolved such big brains, and at what cost; why the sexes differ in size, perceptual skills, mating strategies and longevity; whether infanticide and ethnocentrism are the dark shadows of once-adaptive human behaviors; and if human innovation in the last 500,000 years has itself influenced the course of human evolution. Like philosophers over the ages, the field also seeks the hidden causal essences in human behavior-the human universals in love, sex, war, family, loyalty, hierarchy and reciprocity. Evolutionary research also provides insight into practical matters, such as why pregnant women get morning sickness and modern populations are getting so fat. In addition to probing the general assumptions, methods and findings of evolutionary psychology, this class will debate how likely it is to explain, undermine or enhance our humanity.

Ethics and the Human Genome (Educ 391, a Freshman Honors Colloquium)

By 2003, just 50 years after discovering of the double helix, scientists had mapped the entire human genome. This is one of the scientific triumphs of the Twentieth Century, yet it also poses some deeply unsettling political and moral challenges. Some people welcome its possible benefits to human health and well-being, but others fear that the new genetic knowledge and technologies will threaten our freedoms and degrade our humanity. This course will examine the wide range of ethical issues associated with genetic research and technologies. Students will first get a basic grounding in different ethical philosophies, from early Greece to modern times, as well as in the genetic science involved. From that foundation, they will then analyze specific questions often debated in the press, movies, literature, and Congress, such as privacy, discrimination, stigmatization, new medical therapies and reproductive technologies, genetic engineering, and cloning.

Intelligence in Everyday Life (EDUC 391, a Freshman Honors Colloquium)

Is intelligence just a narrow academic skill, as some critics claim, or does it provide practical advantages in everyday life? What is life like for people of low, average, or high intelligence? And just what is intelligence anyway, and why do people (even siblings) differ so much in intelligence level? This course examines old discoveries as well as new surprises in the scientific study of intelligence. We will also closely examine various IQ tests to help understand why the differences they measure have practical value in virtually all arenas of social life, but especially education and work. There is a wide dispersion in intelligence within all societies, and we will ponder the special challenges that such variation poses for democratic societies such as ours. Please visit the course syllabus.

Educational Assessment for Classroom Teachers (EDUC451)

Tests and assessments are a major part of a teacher's job. They are also major tools of educational reform today. We will examine the various aims and techniques of assessing student learning. You will learn how to create and evaluate different kinds of classroom assessments, as well as how to interpret standardized tests administered by the school district to all students or by school psychologists to individuals students. We will discuss the strengths and limitations of different kinds of tests, as well as the lively politics surrounding them. We will also discuss how to give feedback on student performance, including how to assign grades and conduct parent-teacher conferences. Please visit the course syllabus.

Educational Assessment for Classroom Teachers (EDUC 451-080, Honors Section)


School of Education
College of  Education and Human Development
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716
Phone: (302) 831-1650
Fax: (302) 831-6058