For University Researchers and Instructors

An optimal environment for experiential activities connected to courses in many disciplines.  These include:

  • Observation of children 6 weeks to 5 years of age
  • Participation in a quality early childhood environment
  • Design clothing for children
  • Work with children demonstrating dance, theater, music
  • Design activities to support motor development
  • Design outdoor learning environments
  • Implement concepts and practice skills learned in your class

Research at the CDL

A central mission of the Child Development Laboratories is to generate new knowledge regarding child development and early childhood education while training future scholars in the field.  The CDLs work to support research experiences for faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates across campus in several ways.

For more specific information regarding the various types of research occurring, please browse the following Lab websites:

Early Language and Literacy Investigations (ELLI) Lab

Building Early Emotion Skills (BEES) Lab

Insight into Infant's Internal Worlds (IIIW) Lab

Research Application Deadlines

  • Summer research: May 1st
  • Fall research: Aug 21st
  • Spring research: December 1st

Each research project is reviewed by our Research Review Board to ensure that the rights of children and families are protected and that the research is practical in this setting.

Applying to Conduct Research at the CDLs

In order to obtain permission to perform research in the Child Development Laboratories, please follow the steps below:

  1. Complete the CDLs Research Application and email it to Dr. Sarah Douglas & Laurie Linscott ( & Note: If you want to include Haslett as a research site, you must also complete the Haslett Public School’s Research Application form.
  2. The Research Review Board at the MSU CDLs (i.e., Director, Teachers and faculty liaison from HDFS) will meet shortly after the deadlines above to discuss submitted research proposals. The Director of Research will inform the applicant of the meeting outcome via e-mail. The CDL Research Assistant will be in contact afterwards to discuss research protocols and begin scheduling.

Once Approval is Obtained

  1. If approved, the applicant will receive IRB approval from Michigan State University.  Please provide IRB approval documentation to the CDLs in addition to stamped consent forms. IRB guidelines should be followed throughout data collection.
  2. All research assistants for projects will need federal Central Registry Clearance to work with children from the Department of Human Services (Ingham County DHS, 5305 S. Cedar St., Lansing MI), and state ICHAT (Internet Criminal History Access Tool) clearance. The PI (Principal Investigator) or project manager will be responsible for obtaining all of these forms for their research assistants, and then turning them into the CDL Reseach Assistant, Sophia Burcham (  All research assistants will need to sign the mandated reporter form, code of ethical conduct, and good moral standards form. These will also be turned in to the CDL RA through the project manager or PI.  See the Required Research Paperwork form for all required documents including a link to our How-To-Guide.  
  3. All research assistants need to familiarize themselves with the CDL RA Handbook.  The final page of the handbook needs to be signed and turned in to the CDL Research Assistant.
  4. Note that verbal assent should be obtained from all children before testing.
  5. Researchers will be expected to present findings from their research annually to the CDL.
  6. Researchers should send verification when presentations or publications using data from the CDL's are accepted to Dr. Sarah Douglas and Laurie Linscott.

Course Observation at the CDL

Please complete the Course Observation Form.

Class Projects at the CDL

Please complete the Course Project Form.

Class projects are reviewed and evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Alignment with the CDL philosophy
  • Level of intrusiveness of the classroom environment
  • Number of concurrent projects approved

Approved class projects will be supervised by the Assistant Directors of the site.

For Undergraduates

The CDLs provide undergraduates at MSU with excellent learning opportunities related to conducting research in the area of child development and family relations. These research opportunities are great experiences for any student looking to learn more about child development, working with children, and research methodology. In addition, this experience can be useful for students who wish to attend graduate school.

For Families

  • Research requests will be evaluated on the basis of how projects are designed and the extent to which reasonable and prudent practices regarding child, family and staff member' involvement have been applied.
  • Families are provided information concerning the purposes of all approved research projects and the names and telephone numbers of the Principal Investigators responsible for each one.
  • Children have the right to refuse to participate in any project. No penalties, coercion, or tricks will be used to gain their involvement.
  • Researchers will explain procedures and tasks to children clearly and truthfully. They will answer all questions that the children may have.
  • The Director of the CDL's manages the research programs so families and children are not overwhelmed by requests from researchers.