Press "Enter" to skip to content

Childhood research lab provides language development opportunities

Mills' Childhood Research Development lab offers the opportunity to learn more about their future areas of interest after they graduate. (Maria Aguilar)
Mills’ Childhood Research Development lab offers the opportunity to learn more about their future areas of interest after they graduate. (Maria Aguilar)

Every week, nine students gather in the Education Complex to discuss research methods for child development and the progress they have made in their studies of childhood language.

In the fall of 2009, Dr. Priya Mariana Shimpi, director of the Language Development Laboratory and associate professor of education, founded the Language Development Lab in the School of Education and continues to lead the lab. Lab members meet once a week to participate in discussions and activities concerning child development and developmental psychology. Students can become involved with the lab by joining the Child Development Research Club, where students discuss research and act as a part-time research assistants for the lab. Once students demonstrate their research abilities they can become full-time lab members.

The goal of the lab is to study what attributes such as overhearing conversations contribute to the development of communication in infants to children from about 6 months of age to 6 years of age. The lab researches how this age group develops language and how the differences in experience such as having a sibling affects learning.

According to the Language Development Lab website, the lab specifically looks at how toddlers learn directly, direct instruction and indirectly, overhearing and observing others, how young children develop a sense of self, how children gain information from different sources, such as other people  and media, and how picture book reading helps children use complex sentences.

Senior Mariana Mendoza leads the Spanish Priming research study in the lab. The  study researches how kindergarteners, who are bilingual, learn.

Mendoza encourages for involved students to join her in the Spanish Priming research study. 

“Since I am graduating next semester, I am looking for someone to continue with our research and that is passionate or interested in pursuing a field of academic investigation,” Mendoza said.

Jessica Oride, a child development major, became a member of the Language Development Lab after declaring her major.

“At first, it was a way for me to meet more people interested in the field,” Oride said in an email. “I also have grown to have an interest in bilingualism in early childhood, which is definitely in line with what the lab researches.”

The Language Development Lab encourages interested students to join either the lab or  club and attend meetings. The lab and club meet every Friday at 12:30 p.m. in the Education Complex.