The Center for Early Childhood Education supports and conducts a wide range of empirical investigations that are consistent with its research philosophy and mission. However, we are particularly interested in supporting research in five specific areas:
- Applied Research on Young Children and Families
All research—even the most basic studies in child development—can have practical implications for professional practice. However, we are particularly interested in carrying out investigations in which the outcomes of specific, theory-grounded classroom or parent support strategies are directly tested.
Example: A center study was conducted in which preschool children were asked to discuss videoclips of themselves solving mathematical problems; outcomes of this method on children’s thinking about math concepts were then studied.
- Research Utilizing the Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC) and the Center’s Technology
Center faculty and guest researchers conduct studies in locations outside of Eastern’s campus. However, we are especially interested in supporting investigations that can be carried out with preschool children and families who are enrolled in our partner children’s center, the CFDRC. Too, we wish to engage in research that uses the video technology of the center and produces video that can be incorporated into our growing library of clips that demonstrate child development and best practice.
Example: A study of teacher-child interactions was carried out in the center in which video was taken of adults in the CFDRC interacting with children during free play periods. It was found that when teachers provided support that matched children’s play needs, children were more independent and self-regulatory in their later play activities.
- Interdisciplinary Research
Many studies in the center have been conducted by faculty in early childhood education. However, we are also interested encouraging research by scholars in other fields and studies by teams of investigators from diverse disciplines.
Example: A faculty member in the English Department at Eastern, in consultation with an early childhood scholar, conducted a study in which she recorded young children’s language in order to determine if they use words that show they have acquired a theory of the mind—an understanding of how the mind works and what others think, feel, or believe. She found that children use numerous phrases—“He doesn’t know where I hid it,” or “She’s mad at him,” that show they can understand and talk about internal mental states.
- Research on Teacher Development and Preparation
Much research at the center focuses on children and families. However, we are also interested in supporting studies that examine the development of teacher competence and test strategies for preparing professionals in the classroom.
Example: A research team is providing intensive training in literacy development and instruction in preschool classrooms, including on-going literacy courses and on-site coaching. The team is measuring the impact of these training methods on teacher knowledge and competence in providing literacy environments and instruction, as well as on the language and literacy development of their students.
- Research that Engages Students
Not only does the Center provide opportunities for research by established scholars, but also research by undergraduate and graduate students. In particular, we encourage studies in which one or more undergraduate students at Eastern are mentored by faculty and become engaged in all step of scientific inquiry.
Example: An undergraduate student in early childhood education collaborated with a faculty member in conducting a study on the impact of specific toys on children’s thinking, learning, and social interaction. She videorecorded children’s play, coded behaviors, helped interpret findings, and presented this work at a national conference
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