Research at the CYC

Researcher with children

Research on Child Development at the Center for Young Children

The Center for Young Children (CYC) is a laboratory preschool that supports research conducted with young children by faculty and graduate students at the University of Maryland, in addition to its mission of teaching of young children and training teachers.

The general research topics that are studied at the CYC include children’s peer relationships, social cognition, language development, cognitive development, play, temperament, social competence, and social development reflecting the general areas studied by research faculty and graduate students.

These areas reflect cutting edge research on child development that provides for the translation of fundamental knowledge about child development into educational practice.

Parents enroll their children in the school with an understanding that they will be asked to participate in Center-approved research studies throughout the school year. Such studies increase information about how children develop, and learn new knowledge. Many studies are observational in nature and do not require the child to leave the classroom, while other studies require individual children's participation, usually outside the classroom.

Research at the CYC is divided into two categories: observational studies and participatory studies.

Researcher with children
Observational Studies

Observation rooms with one-way mirrors allow research assistants to view the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development of children without classroom presence. Many university courses also have observational components and CYC serves this academic purpose for exposing undergraduate students to the world of research. As well the observation booths provide an opportunity for training research assistants in methodological techniques used for collecting data on children’s behavior.

Participatory Studies

A research room is available for Faculty and Graduate student research that involves one-on-one interviews and testing, as well as small group interactions. Researchers requesting permission to interview young children outside the classroom follow specific rules (see Research Guidelines by clicking the link below). Approval must come from the University's Institutional Review Board (IRB) prior to the approval of research conducted at the CYC. Documentation of this approval must be given to the Director for final approval. Researchers request parental permission to interview a child and participate in the study. When parental permission forms are returned, a child will be allowed to participate. Most children enjoy participating in these special activities.  All research is strictly voluntary and any child may decline to participate at any time.  A child's wishes are always respected. Researchers disseminate their results to the parents and school staff through the distribution of brief reports following the completion of a study, and in a timely manner.

Current Research

Dr. Melanie Killen

Dr. Melanie Killen, Ph.D., from the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology, received her doctoral degree from the University of California, Berkeley. The topics that she studies with young children include conflict resolution, moral judgment, social cognition, social exclusion, intergroup attitudes, gender stereotypes, and peer relationships.  She has a team of doctoral students and undergraduate research assistants who are well trained in interview methodologies with young children. Currently she is conducting two studies at the CYC, one on moral judgment and resource allocation, and a second project social exclusion and inclusion in peer groups.

Dr. Melanie Killen's Social and Moral Development Laboratory web site.

Report on Children’s Understanding of Resource Allocation

Dr. Jeffrey Lidz and Dr. Andrea Zukowski

Dr. Jeffrey Lidz, Ph.D., and Dr. Andrea Zukowski, Ph.D., from the Department of Linguistics at the University of Maryland, College Park, have conducted research at the Center for Young Children for many years. Dr. Lidz received his Ph.D. from the University of Delaware in 1996 and worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and at the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique in Paris. Dr. Zukowski received her PhD in 2001 from Boston University. Researchers in the Department of Linguistics focus on how children learn the structure of sentences in their language (syntax) and how sentence structure relates to meaning (semantics). An important component of this research involves the comparison of children learning a wide range of languages. Dr. Zukowski’s work also compares typically developing children’s language development with that of children with various developmental disorders, especially Williams Syndrome.

Project on Children’s Language Learning web site.

Dr. Geetha Ramani

Dr. Ramani, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology, and received her Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh, and worked as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Ramani’s research focuses on how young children’s social interactions with adults and peers influence their cognitive development.  She is also interested in how play and informal learning activities can promote children’s thinking in the areas of mathematics, problem solving, and planning. 

Dr. Ramani's Early Childhood Interaction Lab web site.

Dr. Hedy Teglasi

Dr. Hedwig Teglasi, Ph.D., ABPP, a professor in the School Psychology Program within the Department of Counseling, Higher Education and Special Education at the University of Maryland, received her Ph.D. from Hofstra University. Dr. Teglasi and her students have conducted research at the CYC on children's temperament, social understanding, and social competence. Her interests are in how the interplay between children’s temperamental dispositions and exchanges with various environments impacts their learning and development.  

Yi Ting Huang

Yi Ting Huang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences. She received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at Harvard University and trained as a post-doctoral fellow in Cognitive Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Huang’s research focuses on how young language learners acquire the ability to coordinate linguistic representations during real-time comprehension. She explores this question by using eye-tracking methods to examine how the moment-to-moment changes that occur during processing influence the year-to-year changes that emerge during development. 

How to Conduct and Schedule Research at the CYC

Research Guidelines

If you have further questions, please contact Dr. Mona Leigh Guha, the CYC Director at: