For Educators

For Educators

As part of the Study of Children’s Thinking, we often visit after-school programs and childcare sites to conduct brief research interviews with young children. If you are interested in the possibility of collaborating with us, we will gladly come to your center and discuss the logistical aspects of the research. At this time, we can show you our current research interviews, and provide you with any documentation that might be helpful (e.g., evidence of approval from our human subject review board). We will also provide you with letters to parents requesting permission for their child to participate in our study.

We always try to adapt our research procedures to the needs of the programs we work with. Usually, we will have two or three student researchers visit a classroom. Once everybody is comfortable, the researchers will ask individual children (for whom we have parental consent), whether they would like to play one or two learning games. If a child agrees, the researcher will conduct a 5-10 minute interview (ideally in a quiet but public location, such as the hallway or an extra classroom). We usually ask permission for one or two interviews per child. We do not try to compel children to participate in our games, even if the parents have given permission.  It has been our experience that children have fun participating in the research games, and generally enjoy interacting with our researchers. Our researchers also try to be helpful to teachers while they are visiting the classroom, serving as an extra pair of hands.

It is important to note that we do not “test” the abilities of individual children. Rather, we focus on the changes in reasoning among children in their preschool and elementary years. We hope that by studying the processes influencing children’s thinking, we will be able to design more effective forms of instruction and better understand how children come to make sense of their world. There is no direct reward for children who participate in our interviews. We do offer small “thank-you” presents to programs we work with. We also encourage programs to think of ways that we might be able to be helpful. For example, our researchers can conduct in-services for staff, or provide articles for newsletters.

ThinLine

Please feel free to contact us at 608-616-0686 or at jmmatthews@wisc.edu if you would like to participate, or if you have any additional questions.

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