Opportunities for Research

All research conducted through the Children’s Programs must meet the approval of the Penn State Office of Regulatory Compliance. In addition, projects undergo an internal approval process through a review committee that includes the Directors of each program and parents. Research is evaluated relative to the impact it will have on our programs. We make no attempt to evaluate the quality of the research itself.

Once a project is approved, parents receive information about the project along with informed consent forms. Children give their consent as well; they are never forced or coerced to participate. In fact, children are usually eager to have their turn in these special activities. Research advances our knowledge of human development, but from the child’s perspective it is usually just another enjoyable activity.

Research projects are scheduled to minimize interference with regular classroom activities. Teachers introduce the researchers and assure the children that they are permitted to participate and to leave the classroom, if this is necessary. In cases where a child leaves the classroom without a member of the program staff, the researchers must provide copies of child abuse and criminal background clearances. Researchers visit the classroom to acquaint themselves with the children before they begin their project. Supporting research enables the Children’s Programs to make a contribution to the study of human development. Parent cooperation in these endeavors is essential and greatly appreciated.

Observation, Class Projects, and Student Training

An important function of the Children’s Programs is to train future early childhood professionals and to demonstrate quality child care and early childhood education. Our observation booths provide an opportunity for students from a variety of classes to observe high-quality child care and education programs in action. Visitors from public schools, community child care programs and other universities also observe our classrooms.

The students who participate in our classrooms receive ongoing training. Our regular support staff of work-study students is supplemented by practicum students from the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. In addition, students from other departments sometimes participate in training activities in our classrooms. These training projects are closely reviewed prior to approval and the students are closely monitored and supervised. We try to keep you informed about these training projects through newsletters and bulletin board notices. Working with young children gives students practical experience to supplement their course work. Their involvement with the Children’s Programs gives us an opportunity to have an impact on these future early childhood professionals.