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:

Researchers:

Felsche, E. & Buchsbaum, D.

Study Participants:

Nursery – SK

Purpose:

This research project explores the development and origins of children’s causal reasoning abilities. The researchers are interested in learning about the relationship between social learning and causal reasoning and how social information, including casual demonstrations and verbal instruction can be combined with other sources of causal evidence, such as direct observation and the result of our own actions when making judgments about the causal nature of the world. This will be accomplished by having students observe various demonstrations with an object (sticker box) and recording how the students subsequently choose to interact with it.

Researchers:

Ganea, P., Venkadasalam, V., & Larson, N.

Study Participants:

JK-SK

Purpose:

This project will compare the effect of activities, books, and a combination of both as interventions for addressing kindergarten student’s scientific misconceptions of buoyancy, gravity, and balance. Both direct instruction and discovery learning have been debated as effective methods for teaching pre-school and kindergarten children STEM, however most recent evidence supports a middle-ground approach. This proposed intervention in this research will explore the extent to which young children benefit from a curriculum that is conceptually rich and also involves hands on exploration. The intervention materials will be designed to specifically address the student’s existing misconceptions, with the objective of significantly increasing their scientific understanding and language.

Researchers:

Kang, L., Miao Qian, K., Judges, R., Dickinson, J., & Yan, L

Study Participants:

Nursery

Purpose:

The purpose of this research is to look at the short-term and long-term effects of recognition training at reducing racial bias among children in a school setting. Previous research has shown that at an early age children’s attitudes favour own-race faces and that these attitudes remain stable in young adults. By using tablet games to train participants to remember different own- or other-race faces by their names instead of categorizing them by race, this project hopes to decrease children’s racial bias.

Researchers:

Kang, L., & Chan, S.

Study Participants:

Nursery – Grade 6

Purpose:

The objective of this research is to examine the effects of exposure to positive counter-stereotypical information on reducing racial bias among children in a school setting. It has been shown that knowledge about different racial groups may influence people’s racial attitudes toward others, such as the association between White population and higher social-status occupations. By exposing students to short vignettes about professionals of different races this project hopes to reduces this racial bias among children.

Researchers:

Kosnick, C., Messina, R. Bogert, C.

Purpose:

This study aims to connect with alumni from the Lab School who graduated in recent years (2000 to 20016) and invite them to participate by filling out an online survey. The questionnaire is designed to determine their perceptions of the Lab School experience, how it prepared them for their schools following graduation, and how it influenced the people they have become.

Researchers:

Prioletta, J., Heller, M.

Study Participants:

SK

Purpose:

The focus of this project is to investigate whether gender is relevant in a play-based context, and, if so, how it plays out in relation to children’s interactions and teacher practice. Since the introduction of play-based learning in Ontario, researchers have found that play in kindergarten is often gender separated where girls and boys play in different spaces and with different toys, and is thought that if unaddressed this play may perpetuate more troubling things such as unequal gender relations. During the part of this study that is taking place in the Lab School, the researcher will observe the play of students in the Senior Kindergarten classroom over a period of 3.5 months. These observations, as well as interviews, will look at how the teacher, the design of the program, the classroom environment, and the choice of materials available, influences the interactions of children and the quality of their play.

Researcher:

Nakanishi, M. (Haiku, Ehime University, Japan)

Study Participants:

Grade 5

Study Summary:

Haiku master teacher from Japan, Makoto Nakanishi from Ehime University, Japan along with translator, Midori Sakurai, has been working with Lab School teachers and students this year.  Makoto has developed a unique way to introduce Haiku poetry that addresses some of the misconceptions of this art form. In October, Makoto presented his research to the teachers. This was followed by demonstrations lessons with the Grade 5 students which all teachers observed. After this, to meet the goals of this research, each teacher was asked to explore ways to incorporate Haiku into their work with students. In February, the teachers will gather to share with Makoto their students’ experiences with haiku poetry. Makoto will then present the next phase of this research, and teachers will again follow-up. A final visit is planned in April for another sharing time with Makoto.

Researcher:

Volpe, R.

Purpose:

With the help of the Rockefeller and CAMH archives, Professor Volpe is rewriting how the Interdepartmental Nursery School (now Lab School) and Institute of Child Study came into being. Volpe is the author of The Secure Child: Timeless Lessons in Parenting and Childhood Education (2010). He is currently researching the critical role played by Dr. Clarence Hincks in the early and later grants that helped establish Child Study at the University of Toronto, as well as Hincks’ colleague Dr. Edward Bott who is seen today as a visionary by many in the field of rehab psychology.  Hincks was a key figure in the Canadian Mental Hygiene Committee (Hinck-Dellcrest Institute) and Bott established the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto in 1927.

Researchers:

Scardamalia, M., Bereiter, C., & Peskin, J. SSHRC

Study Participants:

SK-Grade 6

Purpose:

This project investigates the potential of digital technology to help schools meet governmental and private-sector objectives of “innovativeness”, the capacity to live and work in an ‘innovation-driven’ knowledge society (OECD, 2010). By building on improvement efforts already in progress, the focus was on the advancement of students’ collective understanding through the implementation of Knowledge Building pedagogy and technology in Ontario classrooms. Many Quebec schools’ and Jackman ICS’ methods and technological advances mutually inform and support the innovative efforts of the proposed project. New digital technology also plays an essential role in supporting classroom knowledge creation processes and in providing automatic, non-intrusive assessment of group and individual performance.

Researchers:

Zhang, J. & Scardamalia, M. NSF

Study Participants:

Grade 4-6

Purpose:

Classroom innovations to cultivate creative work need to engage students in sustained inquiry and progressive discourse by which ideas are continually developed and refined, giving rise to higher-level goals. This project will test educational designs enabled by new online learning environments to foster sustained, progressive discourse over time across a network of interconnected classrooms that co-advance shared knowledge, supporting progressive idea improvement in each community. This study is now in its third year, explores ways to improve students’ science learning through collaborative knowledge building using technology. Students work together to build deep understandings of core scientific topics.

Contact for Research Inquiries

For further information or assistance, please contact:

Chriss Bogert, Vice-Principal & Research Coordinator

chriss.bogert@utoronto.ca

416-934-4512