The Rutgers Psychology Child Development Center has been supporting research at Rutgers University since 1930! An integral part of our Mission is to serve as a research and teaching laboratory for the Psychology Department. In addition to supporting research and academics for the Psychology Department, other departments, programs, and units within Rutgers who are interested in studying early childhood development are welcome to request permission to implement research studies with our program which have acquired approval from the Rutgers Institutional Review Board (IRB).
All participation in research is completely optional for children and parents or guardians, and participation in research is NOT a condition of enrollment. Parents and guardians are provided with a Disclosure Statement so that they understand the research and academics function of our programs and sign an Informed Consent for general program participation. Consent forms for individual research studies are provided in advance to parents and guardians for review and consent. Even if a parent or guardian has provided consent for their child to participate, children must also assent to participate and they have the right to refuse. All children are asked if they would like to participate and if they choose to withdraw their consent at any time (or show signs that they no longer want to participate) including during the activity, the session immediately ends and the child is brought to their classroom teacher. Children may not be coerced, pressured, or bribed to participate or to continue participation.
Research activities are implemented in ways that are fun and interesting for young children. Many studies are conducted through games, puppets, or other child-appropriate activities. Children are often excited to see Researchers and are eager for their turns to participate. They enjoy the activities and look forward to future visits from Researchers.
Our participation in early childhood research is very important for advancing the field of early childhood development. There is still much to learn about how young children learn and develop. Studies implemented at our programs have led to a better understanding about how children learn language, how they understand the concept of time, how they develop literacy skills, how they develop mathematical skills, and even recipe development for healthier versions of their favorite foods. Research in the development of science concepts in early childhood has even led to the publication of an early childhood science curriculum: Preschool Pathways to Science (Gelman, Brenneman, Macdonald, and Roman, Brookes Publishing), that is used world-wide. Our program also served as a research development site for an interdisciplinary prekindergarten curriculum that integrates research-validated teaching methodologies from early childhood experts in mathematics, science, literacy, and social-emotional learning: Connect4Learning (Brenneman, Clements, Duke, Hemmeter, and Sarama, Kaplan Early Learning).