Field Description

How do children develop the knowledge, skills, and personality characteristics that allow them to become competent adults? How do differences among children emerge? How do culture, social context, and history condition these outcomes? The study of child development has become interdisciplinary in nature: psychologists conduct experiments to understand how children acquire basic conceptual categories and competencies; anthropologists write ethnographies that underscore the diverse ways in which childhood is experienced and understood across the world; historians undertake archival research to show how almost every aspect of childhood has changed over time; sociologists study the unequal worlds children experience today; political scientists and public policy analysts develop statistical tools to understand cross-sectional variation in the types and quality of early childhood education and its impact on life chances; educational specialists study the impact of early education and technology on learning outcomes, and more.  

These are just some of the many dimensions of the Research Field on Child Development and Education. Students choosing to work in this area ask interdisciplinary questions such as: What is the impact of early childhood education on life-earning power?  How do cognitive and emotional developments reinforce each other? What are the most important factors explaining difference in learning outcomes, and what policy recommendations can be made to address them?

The ISF Research Field in Childhood Development and Education helps orient students to a multidisciplinary approach to these problems and questions.  Students work with a variety of methods -- experiments, archival research, statistical causal analysis, and ethnography -- and a variety of sources.  Courses are drawn from the School of Education, of course, but also the departments and disciplines of Gender and Women's Studies, Psychology, Anthropology, and specific area studies programs, including Asian American, Chicano, and African-American Studies.