All Applied Developmental Psychology graduate students George Mason can expect to work in a lab. The lab is headed by a faculty member and consists of doctoral, masters, undergraduate, and honors students as well as research personnel. Below is a listing of labs in the Applied Developmental Psychology program along with a short description. Click the link to find out more.
DR. PASNAK IS NO LONGER ACCEPTING INCOMING PH.D. STUDENTS
Dr. Pasnak’s Cognitive Interventions laboratory has focused on helping children who lag in cognitive development to catch up to their peers. This sometimes involves blind or mentally challenged youngsters, or those with ESL or minority status, but more often it is children who are behind their peers cognitively for no identifiable reason. "Learning set" methods are used to teach children the key cognitive constructs, such as patterning, appropriate for their age. The synthesis of content and method leads to meaningful gains on IQ tests and in academic achievement that endure for at least a few years, and some gains in self esteem for the children. This research has been supported by large grants from the Institute of Educational Science. New work is currently with first-graders.
Dr. Curby's lab, the Development In School Contexts (DISC) Lab, examines how children develop in classrooms settings and what teachers do to facilitate that development. Our interests focus on two related sets of aims. First, we examine how teacher-child interactions serve as a mechanism for children’s development. In other words, we are interested in exploring how different types of interactions teachers have with students (emotional, organizational, instructional) relate to children's growth (academic, emotional, social). Second, we are interested in the measurement of teacher-child interactions. Interactions are difficult to quantify, and if we can’t measure these interactions well, then we are going to have difficulty (reliably) relating these interactions to children’s development. Thus we examine, the stability, variability, and reliability in the measurement of teacher-child interactions.
Developing Minds Lab (Doebel)
Dr. Doebel is interested in cognitive development in early childhood, with much of her research to date focusing on the role of experience in the development of children's executive function, the ability to control thoughts and actions in the service of goals, especially in the face of conflicting habits, desires, or tendencies. She's particularly interested in how various social and conceptual processes support the capacity to engage control in specific contexts, and how this may partially explain socioeconomic status differences in executive function. She's also interested in how factors like fatigue and screen use affect children's executive function development. Sabine is also doing work to promote open science practices in developmental psychology, with the goal of making it easier to help researchers build on one another's work. You can find her website here and her recent TEDx talk here.
Peer Networks and Development Lab (Kornienko)
Dr. Kornienko's research examines how peer social networks promote and constrain psychological adaptation and health in adolescence and across the lifespan. She is interested in understanding peer socialization processes as well as protective and detrimental roles that peer relationships play in youth development. Her research focuses on understanding how peer social networks shape psychosocial adjustment, health-risk behavior, gender and ethnic-racial identity development, and biological processes related to stress, social status, and immunity. She employs longitudinal research designs, advanced statistical modeling approaches, and social network analysis methods to understand how social dynamics shape developmental and psychosocial outcomes. She uses salivary bioscience methods to measure stress physiology and activity of the immune system in naturalistic settings (e.g., schools, organizations).
SSIT Lab (Goldstein)
Dr. Goldstein's lab, the Social Skills, Imagination and Theatre Lab (SSIT Lab), explores how children can develop social and emotional skills through experience with pretend play, imagination, theatre, and the arts. Our current research focuses on how experiences with role play, acting classes, and musical theatre programs can help typically developing, at-risk, and children with Autism Spectrum Disorders gain social communication, empathy, emotion regulation and theory of mind skills. The lab also investigates how different types of embodiment aid learning from pretend play and what kinds of implicit and explicit teaching strategies acting teachers use to teach social and emotional skills to adolescent actors. In a secondary line of work, we ask how children understand people in fictional worlds, including live versions of fictional characters such as Santa or Cinderella, and actors portraying a variety of characters on TV or in movies.
Dr. Winsler's research lab is currently exploring several different areas: 1) Long-term effects of early childcare and pre-K experiences for ethnically-diverse, urban children in poverty, 2) School readiness and long term- public school educational trajectories for ethnically-diverse, urban children in poverty, including outcomes such as delayed entry to kindergarten, grade retention, special education placement, and high-stakes standardized test results, school suspension, drop-out, and advanced course selection (gifted, honors, AP) 3) selection into, and academic benefits of, middle and high school arts elective courses (music, visual art, drama, dance) for children in diverse children in poverty 4) private speech (self-talk) and children's behavioral self-regulation and executive functioning in both typical children and those with autism and/or ADHD; and 5) Bilingual language development and maintenance, bilingual education, and the acquisition of English among Dual Language Learners (DLL) and their role in early and later school performance. A combination of methods are employed in Dr. Winsler's lab, including direct child-assessments, tasks, and interviews; parent- and teacher-report instruments; secondary analysis of large-scale (n= 50,000) archival datasets; surveys; classroom observations; and the qualitative and quantitative coding and analysis of behavior from video and/or audio tapes.
Dr. Allison Jack's Lab (Coming Soon!)