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THEMUSEUM Community Stage: UW’s Developmental Learning Lab

THEMUSEUM has many community partners that help create and present unique programs and events throughout the year. Many of our partners also come do work and research within our space. The University of Waterloo’s Development Learning Lab sends researchers throughout the year to THEMUSEUM to interact with some of our youngest visitors. Their next visit will be on Friday, November 7 from 10:00am to 2:00pm.

What exactly is the Developmental Learning Lab at UW?

The Developmental Learning Lab is a developmental psychology lab at the University of Waterloo that studies cognitive development with children under the age of 7. Our team is led by a psychology professor and is made up of undergraduate and graduate students who conduct research with infants and children and communicate their research findings to both the scientific community and the local community.

What type of research do you conduct, and why is it important?

Our research focuses on cognitive development. Cognitive development is a very broad term, which encompasses the development of thinking, memory, and language across the lifespan. In our lab specifically, we are most interested in how infants and children think, make decisions, and learn new concepts to reach a more mature understanding. Some of our studies look at how 3- to 6-year-olds make guesses about events when given numerical and social information, others look at whether 3- and 4-year-old children enjoy spending their time learning things that are easy to understand or difficult to understand, and other studies look at how advanced infants’ and toddlers’ understanding of other people’s social behaviour is.

What is the Developmental Learning Lab’s research used for?

Our research is communicated to the scientific community, where ourselves and other researchers apply our findings to inform theories of child development. These theories influence education policy and curricula, community learning projects, and parenting.

Why do you come to THEMUSEUM to conduct research?

We come to THEMUSEUM because it allows us to spread the word about research with children and their families. This also allows us to include children from a wider range of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds than the children who live close enough to our lab on campus to participate in studies with their parents. Finally, we think it is important to include children in our studies who are already engaged in a learning experience at THEMUSEUM because this puts them in a different “frame of mind” than the children we work with in the lab.

How do you see THEMUSEUM as a space for young children and infants to interact with?

THEMUSEUM provides a great space for children and their parents or other caregivers to engage in interactive learning experiences. We see it as a place that provides opportunities for parents and children to talk about a range of concepts and ideas, which we know from years of research on cognitive development, positively impacts learning.