Deyun Meng (pseudonym only), a tourist, is a 37-year old doctoral candidate. I met her while waiting for a taxi on my way home. She has been here in the US for barely two (2) weeks to visit a sick relative. I told her if I could observe and interview her for my case study project in developmental psychology. I explained to her the purpose of my project and gave her the participant consent form. She answered affirmatively. The next day, we spent nearly one-and-a-half (1 and ½) hours in a café near her relative’s residence. Deyun ethnic background is Chinese. She has been a professional high school teacher for nearly six (6) years and a university professor for five (5) years.
Deyun came from an average-earning, but broken family. She obtained her degree in education as a full time academic scholar. For her master’s, she worked fulltime as a high school English teacher while writing her graduate thesis. For her first doctoral studies, she has been a academic scholar of one of the premier universities in China. She is still looking for a dissertation grant because her first scholarship grant had expired already after three (3) years. Under Levinson’s Theory of Human Development, Deyun is in the Settling down Stage where she to have a life structure by establishing her societal niche and progressing in her timetable both in career and family accomplishments.
As a married woman for nearly 7 years, although she does not have kids yet, she already experienced intimacy, passion, and commitment (Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love). She previously has casual interactions with other people until such time that she finally had a solid attachment, romantic love and then long-term or consummate love. The couples plan to work in the UK, Canada or Australia once she earned her post-doctorate in education.
I decided to observe and interview Deyun because my goal is to have as much relevant information as I can from her. It is very convenient on my part to talk to someone who is from another country. I was able to meet my expectations because the respondent was willing to share her life story. One of the things that I thought of finding out from Deyun is information align with the objectives (that is, using various theories of development) of this project for my subject – Developmental Psychology: Course Outcome Assessment / Observation Study.
Deyun has a small stature (that is, 5 feet and 3 inches height) and a small built (110 lbs.). She has eyes like most Chinese do. As a Christian, her hair is short because that is part of their Church doctrines (I Corinthians 11:14). In addition, she has learned to abstain not only from food, but also from sex with her husband especially before a special religious gathering. Deyun’s sexual attitude/behavior is one way of exercising self-control in order to avoid possible temptation with other people. Deyun did not even engaged in cohabitation, or lived in with a partner, during her singlehood because of her religiosity.
When it comes to stress and health, Deyun has a regular exercise, good nutrition, adequate sleep, frequent socialization, little alcohol, and no smoking. As a professional, Deyun is likely to burn a lot of calories even when she is at rest. Hence, her resting or basal metabolic rate (BMR) is above average because she has to deal with a little bit of stress considering that she attends to her sick relative, thinks of her wife in China, expects to complete her dissertation before the eight-year maximum residency period (or else she will take a penalty course each semester), etc. The physical changes are obvious for her age because she is already physically mature. She has shown in her blog a photo taken when she graduated in college that was why I can make a comparison as to how much she had aged since then.
There is a great likelihood that Deyun is now under the achieving stage of Schaie’s Stages of Adult Development. She has learned to attain most of her long-term goals (that is, for her careers and families) as an early adult. Here is how:
Deyun, who loves to learn English even at a young age, is now fluent or has mastery of the language. According to her, she has learned English as a child because her mother is British. During her secondary schooling, she is a feature editor of their English Club school paper. During her college years, because she likes English a lot, she majored in English. She used English for her master’s thesis. This year, Deyun will use again use English for her dissertation writing. Thus, the reason Deyun has high English proficiency is because of her early familiarity and regular use of it.
When I asked Deyun about her academic performance from elementary to post-graduate levels, she has consistently received honors (e.g., High School Journalist of the Year, No. 1 in the Comprehensive Exam, PhD Scholar, to name some). As a professional with a pragmatic and postformal thoughts (that is, relativistic thinking), while a teacher/professor, she had received awards for perfect attendance and outstanding teaching performance for two consecutive semesters. She has pragmatic thought in the sense that she wants results from what she does. Likewise, she has postformal thought (relativistic thinking/constructed knowledge) because she often reminds herself that adult predicaments are sometimes solved by not by pure logic alone – that she has to solve life problems by drawing upon her prior knowledge (Labouvie-Vief’s Theory of Lifespan Development; Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development: Fifth Stage – Postformal Thought; and, Perry’s Theory of Intellectual Development – Relativistic Thought).
Part of her career development as a PhD student, she has written, published, and presented her research papers in English, Literature, etc. Deyun’s abstract, formal and logical skills are evidence that she is under the formal operational stage (Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development). On the other hand, taking into consideration Deyun’s vocational choice under John Holland’s Theory, she is an artistic individual because of her English proficiency, creativeness and independent thinking, which are required for someone taking up a doctoral study.
Social and Emotional Development
According to Deyun, she is gregarious who avoids solitude (loneliness or lonely moments) except whenever she has to focus on writing her dissertation topic/outline, research papers, and related ones. She includes in her social clock time for her husband, buddies, and online friends as she accomplished life tasks in her adulthood. She had already in his doctoral stage, with house, yet childless, and married, which is not a complete family life cycle (FLC) yet. To make her FLC complete, she has to adopt or have children, attain the senior married life, etc. until such time that she will have grandchildren. Because of Deyun’s amicability even with an American like me, I believe that she has a well-developed emotional intelligence.
In conclusion, Deyun manifested normal physical, cognitive, and social/emotional developments. She has a standard height of 5 feet and 4 inches. She is not also undernourished. Cognitively, she is already a doctoral candidate from one of the number one premier university in their country. Moreover, she is sociable despite her studies.
Some of the things she mentioned that delayed some of her plans, especially, concerning her studies are financial constraints. After graduating from college, her plan is to finish her master’s in three (3) years time. She completed all the academic requirements and passed the comprehensive exam within two (2) years; unfortunately, she waited for another four (4) years before completing in a year’s time her graduate thesis. Then again, for her doctoral studies, she passed all the academic requirements and the comprehensive exam in two (2) years time. However, she is now in her seventh (7th) years and not yet done with her dissertation. She has a hard time finishing it because she has been a full time professor for the past several years. This is the reason why she opted to work part-time while her husband has sought a fulltime contractual employment this year.
Aside from her two former posts, she had tried before other contractual jobs such as being a researcher, board exam reviewer, lecturer, etc. She often changed jobs because she has a hard time dealing interpersonally with co-workers. She is more comfortable working with people she knows after some times. She seems not to easily adapt to a new surrounding because people have different ways socializing, manner of thinking, not to mention having various idiosyncratic behaviors. The reason for her emotional immaturity, despite her age, is because she came from a broken family. His grandparents raised her. Although she has learned to socialize early in life with her close relatives because they lived in their grandparent’s house), being from a broken family impacted a lot in her emotional development. In general, she can socialize when there is really a need to such as when an American like me asks her a favor, when she has to present her research paper, when she has to teach in front of her students, and so on.
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