Research at the Lab School

Research Activities at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study

As a Laboratory School, Jackman ICS has a threefold mandate: exemplary education for the 200 children who attend the school, teacher education, and research.


The Laboratory School provides an environment that fosters research and professional inquiry and is involved in initiating and disseminating new ideas related to improving education. The school makes a significant contribution to the education, human development, and applied psychology work within our university and in the wider educational community in Canada and internationally.

With this focus in mind, research projects approved by the Jackman ICS Child Research Committee to be carried out in the lab school are ones that address issues pertaining to education of your children (ages 3-12) and their development as it pertains to educational settings. The unique nature of the laboratory school tends to be a significant factor for researchers when choosing the Laboratory School as a potential setting for their research.

Our Current Research

The scope of laboratory school research projects can be seen in the set of current and recent projects that are reviewed below. 

Jackman ICS conducts an average of 15 studies per year in the laboratory school. Protocols and additional information are available in Information for Researchers. A synopsis of current lab school research illustrates the diverse range of research at Jackman ICS.

Study: Ways of Contributing to Dialogue in Elementary School Science and History


Dr. Marlene Scardamalia (OISE), Dr. Therese Laferriere (University of Laval), Maria Chuy (OISE)


The goal of the research is to explore ways to raise the level of student discourse by helping students develop distinctive ways of contributing to the progress of explanation-seeking dialogue. This research is relevant both to teaching in the areas of science and history, and to developing communication and collaborative skills transferable beyond these school subjects. The three main objectives of this research are to investigate: (a) the extent to which students engaged in collaborative knowledge building develop distinctive roles or styles, (b) the extent to which these evolved roles contribute to a group’s success in knowledge advancement, and (c) the extent to which students’ development of distinctive ways of contributing can be facilitated by feedback and meta-cognitive support. During the project, researchers will record all student communications to conversations for one hour per week per class. Student KnowledgeForum® entries will also be analyzed using online tools.

Study Participants:

All grades at the Jackman ICS Laboratory School, 2009-2013

Study: Knowledge Community and Inquiry with Embedded Phenomena


Dr. James D. Slotta


The purpose of this three-year project is to develop effective models of instruction using technologies whereby multimedia simulations of plants, animals or other scientific phenomena are enabled to “come alive” within the walls of the classroom to establish a “knowledge community”. Since 2005, Embedded Phenomena (EP) has been developed to engage elementary students as authentic practitioners of the kind of “patient science” – extended inquiry over long periods of time – that students at this age rarely encounter.  Students are able to access, interact with, and explore evolving simulations of scientific phenomena, and researchers and classroom teachers will collaborate and use new technologies, including tablet-based software and multi-touch surfaces for displaying and working with ideas. The present research will develop effective models of instruction using such technologies, particularly with regard to establishing a “knowledge community” amongst the students in a classroom.

Study Participants:

Grade 5/6 at the Jackman ICS Laboratory School, 2011

Study: Fostering Collective Progress in Online Discourse for Sustained Knowledge Building


Dr. Jianwei Zhang, Associate Professor, Department of Educational Theory and Practice, University at Albany (NY)


This research project will explore new ways to teach science among elementary students in a networked environment. In their classroom, students will work together to explore key issues in science: they will ask questions, share and discuss ideas, develop better ideas, review progress, and share their insights with other student groups. These activities will be supported by a networked learning environment—Knowledge Forum®, including a new online tool to support student reflection on their discussions. To examine the effectiveness of the teaching strategies, we will evaluate students’ knowledge growth and analyze peer responses in classroom discussions and Knowledge Forum. Class discussions will be videotaped for analysis. Students will take a short test to assess their learning of each unit, and we will interview some of the students, focusing on how the online tool has helped them in the discussions.

Study Participants:

Grades 3, 5/6 at Jackman ICS Laboratory School, 2011-2014

A complete listing of the research initiatives of the Laboratory School including early childhood, community literacy, numeracy, knowledge construction and teacher education is available in the report to the Laidlaw Foundation.

Contact for Research Inquiries

For further information or assistance, please contact:

Chriss Bogert, Vice-Principal & Research Coordinator