a critical review of “the real thing: preschoolers prefer actual activities to pretend one”


Developmental Psychology Assignment





write a critical review of the following papers:




Taggart, J., Heise, M. J., & Lillard, A. S. (2017). The real thing: preschoolers prefer actual activities to pretend ones. Developmental Science. doi: 10.1111/desc.12582




Format and Content


This critical review should be doubled spaced and review all the sections of a published paper (i.e. introduction, method, results, discussion).  You can use subheadings if it helps you to structure your assignment.  As well as demonstrating a good grasp of the paper and describing it in articulate manner, the most important part of this assignment is providing a critical analysis.  This means you need to not only state why the paper was done and how it fills previous gaps in the literature, but you must discuss limitations of the current study (in procedure, analysis, interpretation etc.) and use evidence to inform your interpretation.



Learning Outcomes


This review should show critical reflection of the source paper and also evidence wider reading as appropriate.  The assignment needs 1) to demonstrate that you can discuss the paper intelligently and critically: and 2) to demonstrate that you can use evidence to inform your interpretation of the paper.







Use APA style referencing (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition)


For online referencing tips see Purdue Owl:  https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/


Students often ask ‘How many references should I include?’  There is no straightforward or correct answer, but as you are focusing on a single paper, the references you include are likely to be studies cited by this paper and in the wider literature when you analyse the introduction and discussion.  Introduce a reference when you are talking about a concept, theory, or study that has been published.  You want to show that your conclusions are based upon your interpretation of evidence, not simply your opinion, and to do this it is necessary to properly cite the evidence.



General details regarding assessment can be found in the student handbook as well as in the lecture slides on Blackboard.


For this assignment, some key things that markers will be looking out for will be your ability to demonstrate that:

  • You can write in an appropriate style, following conventions and using appropriate terminology.
  • You can engage in critical discussion of experimental design (including confounding variables and other limitations).
  • You can meaningfully interpret results of the source and other relevant papers.
  • You can discuss the results of an experiment and how they link to the conclusions (or don’t link to the conclusions if the authors overstate their claims).
  • You can provide a critique of the interpretation.



Pointers for writing a critical review


  • Select a paper you are interested in.
  • Follow the structure of a journal papers, i.e. introduction, method, results, discussion.

What makes for a good critical review?


A critical review is a concise summary of the paper, with your own interpretation as to whether the paper is scientifically sound, properly conducted, and why the paper is interesting.  This is different from a simple summary, as you need to use critical analysis skills and provide evidence to support/refute an argument. Directed questions below are provided to help you think about the paper and address your review. You are invited to prepare a suitable title for your review.



You should consider the following when writing your review:


  1. Is the study properly motivated? Why is the research interesting and important?  You want to brieflydescribe the other relevant literature and how this paper ‘fills the gap’ in the literature.  This will require you to do some additional reading beyond the source paper.


  1. Is the methodology sound? What paradigm did the authors use?   Do you think this is a reasonable way to test the hypothesis?


  1. Define the research question(s) the authors specifically address.


  1. What are the results and what do they tell us?


  1. How do the authors rule out other interpretations of the data?


  1. What do the authors conclude from their research? Here is a chance for you to be analytical and creative – do you agree with the authors?  Are there any other implications for the results?  Do you agree with their interpretation?


  1. You may want to end your review with a suggestion for a related future area of research or a potential follow up study. Are there any ‘open questions’ left by this study?  How might you go about testing this?







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