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Kevin Ferreira van Leer, PhD

Associate Professor
California State University Sacramento

As an instructor, I attempt to build course content that provides students with the foundational knowledge necessary while engaging them in current debates in the literature. Creating opportunities for active learning, I seek to push students to apply course material to their own experiences in addition to educational, local and/or policy contexts. Teaching in this way allows me to critically examine current assumptions in the field, co-construct knowledge with students, and prepare students to critically examine their own contexts in hopes of positively transforming them. I aim to integrate service-learning and other experiential learning experiences that provide applied experiences to engender meaningful reflection and discussion on the connections between theory and practice. 

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Courses Taught

Fieldwork in Child Development 

Instructor, B.A. level course, California State University, Sacramento


Directed field experiences in settings selected to meet students' experience and needs. Students are required to work at the selected setting and attend an on-campus seminar to explore developmental content and issues. Discussion will also focus on attention to professional development and ethics in community and educational settings working with children and families.


Qualitative Research Methods

Instructor, M.A. level course, California State University, Sacramento

Introduction to qualitative research methods for the study of learning and development. Includes: a) discussions of theoretical perspectives underlying this methodological approach; b) techniques for and issues in gathering, analyzing, and recording qualitative data; and c) strategies for using and reporting qualitative data. Students will write initial thesis/project design and human subjects proposal for formal approval.

Qualitative Methods in Human Development 

Instructor, B.A. level course, California State University, Sacramento

Introduction to qualitative research methods and their philosophical underpinnings. The focus will be on theoretical, methodological, and ethical issues in studying human learning and developmental processes from interpretive and social constructivist perspectives. Attention given to methodological strategies used to document and analyze learning and development in context. Strategies include participant-observation field notes, interviews, audio/video recordings, documents, and artifacts, with implications for theory, policy, and practice. APA style will be introduced to support the development of scholarly communication and writing.

Child & Adolescent Development in Context

Instructor, B.A. level course, California State University, Sacramento

Investigation of the dynamic nature of child and adolescent development in the context of families, schools, and community. Students will gain an understanding of how issues in these contexts influence development and explore the dynamic relationships between contexts in promoting development. Attention will be paid to socioeconomic status as a context as well as the role of gender, race and ethnicity within contexts as they relate to development. Students will examine practices that strengthen collaboration between families, schools, and the community.

Family, School & Society

Instructor, B.A. level course, Boston College

Family, School & Society is the second part of a two-course sequence (APSY1030-APSY1031) that introduces students to the multiple dimensions of child development, and the place of education in promoting healthy development for all children. In this course, we consider the social and cultural contexts that shape developmental and educational processes. The focus will be on understanding the nature of contemporary social problems on development, including racism, ethnic prejudice, classism, xenophobia, language preference, sexism and heteronormativity. As a course that fulfills the Cultural Diversity requirement within the Core Curriculum, this course will highlight the ways that race, ethnicity and culture affect children, families, schooling and society. Emphasis will be given to the role of schools, as an institution, as well as public policies and community change initiatives that have consequences for human development.

Civic Engagement Leadership

Student Co-instructor, B.A. level course, Wagner College

The course critically explores the meanings of education for citizenship, democratic leadership, and the public good through readings and discussion, community-based experiences, and systematic reflection. Students will develop a personal citizenship and leadership plan, and write a culminating paper that combines theory and practice to describe what citizenship in a democratic society entails.

Curriculum Design

Following a program review of the undergraduate Child Development degree program at California State University, I worked with colleagues to redesign the program. I co-led the program redesign of the Child & Adolescent Development B.A. program. This redesign resulted in more streamlined concentrations for students, new and updated courses, and the integration of greater fieldwork for students.

Led the development of the following courses for the redesigned program:

  • Capstone in Child & Adolescent Development

  • Child & Adolescent Development in Context

  • Influences of Public Policy on Children & Adolescents

  • Fieldwork in Social & Community Contexts

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