Here are some of the projects we are currently working on!
How does predictability affect children’s word learning?
Young children are really good at acquiring the predictable patterns that are in their environment. Additionally, they can detect when something occurs that is unpredictable or unexpected. But how does predictability affect young children’s word learning? In our lab, we are studying if children learn better from events that are predictable compared to events that are unpredictable. We present children with a video or a tablet game where events occur in a predictable sequence (objects show up from windows in a pattern). Then we present a novel word for an object at either Predictable or Unpredictable events and test how children learn from these different events. Results from these studies will provide insight into how the predictability and consistency in young children’s environments might benefit learning.
How do children figure out the right meanings of words?
When children learn words, they are likely to hear multiple words and see multiple possible things in the world that those words refer to. In these ambiguous situations, how do children figure out the right meanings of words? Our lab is working to understand how children track the co-occurrences between words and objects when learning words from ambiguous situations. For these studies, children are presented with several pictures of novel objects on a computer and they hear the made up names for these objects. We then test to see if children were able to pair the names with objects based on which ones were more likely to occur together. Findings from the studies will help us to better understand how young children learn words in their busy environments.
Living lab initiative
We have partnered with the Children's Museum of Phoenix Living Laboratory Initiative to conduct our research. We are there on Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. studying how children learn the meanings of words. Come by and see us if you are at the museum!!