We are so happy you are considering having your child participate in one of our studies!
Witnessing your child’s language developing is a truly amazing thing. One day they are producing seemingly random sounds, and then months later they are labeling things in their world! Not so long after that they are using words and phrases to express the fact that they are sleepy or hungry, that they want to visit a relative or take a trip to the park, that they notice similarities or differences in their experiences, or that some event took place in the past.
Much of the time, they are not saying things in an “adult-like” way, but their endearing deviations may not necessarily reflect their complete understanding of the language they are acquiring! In fact, we can gain a great deal of knowledge about the language acquisition process (and about language in general) by studying children’s language production and their language comprehension. We are happy to learn from your child!
We share with you a fascination with your child’s language development, and are excited to learn more. Our work would not be possible without the generosity of parents who have allowed their children to participate in our studies. When your children participate in our child language studies, you provide us with the opportunity to learn more about specific aspects of the language acquisition process, and how language develops from childhood to adulthood.
View our brochure to learn more!
Which schools participate?
A number of local preschools and daycares have participating in our studies over the years. We enjoy working with them, and always remember that we are guests in their learning environment. We coordinate with the directors, and plan our visits around important school events and celebrations.
How do I allow my child to participate?
We send paper “consent forms” home with parents/caregivers. Only children whose parents/caregivers have completed a consent form to allow them to participate may do so. This measure is in place so that we can ensure that you have agreed for your child to be a part of our studies, and so that you know we are abiding by a scientific protocol that is in place to protect children as participants in studies.
Each study lasts anywhere between 10-30 minutes (usually shorter for younger children), and we make sure individual children participate during a time that fits into the daily class schedule. (We do not interrupt snack or nap time!)
Children see our studies as a game, and we love playing with them!
When you visit our lab, you and your child will be greeted by one of our Research Assistants (RAs) and escorted into our welcome area. Our RAs are undergraduates who already love working and playing with children. Many of them have goals to embark upon careers calling upon them to work with children in the future. Every child receives a small token of appreciation for participating. There are never any wrong answers in our studies! For us, it is important that your child feel comfortable and enjoy participating. Children see our studies as a game, and we love playing with them!
You also benefit from visiting our lab! Here, you can observe your child in a new setting, while s/he interacts with our research assistants in a calm environment. You are able to see firsthand the kind of tasks we have designed to assess children’s linguistic knowledge at different ages. We always spend time talking with you about the purpose of our studies, and the range of research we do.
Upon arrival, you will be greeted by one of our trained research assistants and escorted to our lab in the Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science (also known as “the pink wing,” since the walls are pink). The research assistant will provide you with a parking pass to use while you are participating in our study. We will walk you to the end of the hallway, past the restrooms on the left, and around the corner to the right to our lab.
What can you expect?
Once in our lab, you and your child will spend some time getting comfortable in the space and getting to know us. (Siblings are welcome!) We have a child-friendly waiting area with toys and books for children to enjoy while they meet us. During this play time, we will ask you to complete some paperwork, and will answer any questions you have about the study. Shortly afterwards, we will transition into the study in an adjacent room, which has an observation window. You are welcome to accompany your child into the room and sit quietly as your child participates, or observe from the window. Our studies last between 10 and 30 minutes, depending on the study and your child’s age. After the study is done, your child will receive a small token of appreciation, and you will receive some compensation for travel.
Please note that we are not necessarily interested in how specific children fare in our tasks, but in what we can learn about linguistic and cognitive development within an age group and across ages. To this end, the contribution of one child can be particularly enlightening, but that one child can help us to make general statements about word learning and sentence comprehension.