Carnegie Mellon University

The Research Spotlight section of the monthly newsletter is one way Children’s School parents can learn about research in progress.

Also, each time your child participates in a study that involves playing a “game” with a researcher (i.e., as opposed to merely being observed), he or she will get a participation sticker suggesting that you, “Ask me about the … game” and a study description detailing the task.

Feel free to contact Dr. Carver to discuss any questions you have about research.

May 2020

Though in-person research with child subjects is on hiatus at the Children’s School during the coronavirus outbreak, the research teams are creatively developing ways to conduct studies remotely.  The research team in Dr. Anna Fisher’s lab has worked with CMU’s Institutional Review Board to modify their human subjects’ protocol to allow for research to be conducted via Zoom.  Many of our children have been consistently and actively engaged in the Zoom class activities, so we plan to invite those who are most comfortable in that format to engage in pilot research projects this spring and summer if the parents are interested.  Participation in this pilot work is totally optional.

We plan to begin the process by having Miss Drash contact families to determine their interest in participating and willingness to share one parent’s email address with the researchers so that scheduling can be done directly with them.  Invitations from the researchers for scheduling would include the research description that parents typically get AFTER the sessions.  The descriptions will give parents a sense of the task(s) the child will do via Zoom.

When preparing for the session, we suggest telling the child that they are going to play a game with a grownup friend from the Children’s School, just like they do at school.  Please don’t discuss the actual game with them.  Also, it will be helpful to have the child seated in a fairly distraction free part of your home.  Parents should stay behind the child to avoid influencing the child’s responses. Feel free to use a virtual background if you would be more comfortable with that.  The researchers will be recording the sessions for coding purposes, but also because Miss Drash and Dr. Carver will be checking sample recordings to ensure that we are comfortable with the way the sessions are being conducted.  We do this type of checking in person when new studies start in the labs at school as well. 

The first pilot will involve children making inferences about living things after being told two facts and asked to deduce whether a third fact is true or not true (thumbs up or thumbs down).  The second pilot will engage children in a series of self-regulation games involving naming, matching, and movement.  Both of these pilots will be run by veteran researchers who have worked well with our children in the past.  Typically, children enjoy the extra attention and stimulation of these games; but as always, the children are free to stop participating at any time.

Research Results