Child development faculty, in collaboration with the teaching faculty at the MSU Child Development Laboratories and others across campus and beyond, are currently engaged in research around two core, scholarly themes:

Language and Literacy Development in Early Childhood

Drs. Bowles, Douglas, Gerde, Skibbe, and Vallotton are implementing programs of translational research in language and/or literacy development in early childhood including the contexts of schools and families, with a particular focus on at-risk populations including children with disabilities. As part of this emphasis, faculty and students work to create, implement, and evaluate intervention programs that advance instructional techniques and educational opportunities for children. They also work towards the creation and validation of assessments of early childhood language and literacy skills to understand how assessments work and what they say about child development.

Social Emotional Health and Well-Being in Infancy and Childhood

Drs. Brophy-Herb, Johnson, Nuttall, and Vallotton have programs of research investigating aspects of social and emotional development and the biological, psychosocial, behavioral and contextual processes, including cultural and family contexts, which influence development in these areas. Their scholarly work includes both basic and translational research models. HDFS is also a co-leader (Brophy-Herb, co-Director) in the Interdepartmental Graduate Specialization in Infancy and Early Childhood. This program provides a multidisciplinary forum for students to gain competencies across key areas such as research and evaluation and policy and advocacy, as well as provides students access to faculty from a variety of units across campus.

Research Resources

We expect and actively encourage graduate students to become immersed in the research process. Our graduate students will have opportunities to participate in multiple aspects of research including grant proposal preparation, data collection and coding, data analyses and interpretation, and dissemination. Faculty and students in the child development area meet on a regular basis. We all share interests in developmental studies in infancy and early childhood. Our meetings and get-togethers provide time for us to discuss current research efforts, plan new endeavors, and build relationships with each other. In addition to this experience, the Department offers a number of scholarly activities with which students may become involved.

The Department promotes active research programs by providing child and family research observation laboratories, coding and data analysis stations, and a meeting area for graduate students to network and collaborate. Child development faculty are actively involved in research collaborations with faculty across campus, across universities, and across communities around the world.

The MSU Child Development Laboratories offer excellent resources both for applied research and training in early development and education. The CDLs offer NAEYC-accredited early childhood programming to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. In-classroom videotaping and audiotaping capabilities, one-way observation booths, and research databases result in an excellent research environment. The CDLs also serve as a training laboratory for early childhood educators. Working alongside master teachers, students have opportunities to engage in first-rate early childhood practices. Faculty and graduate students can apply to conduct research projects at the CDL.

Faculty Research Labs in Child Development

Building Early Emotion Skills (BEES) Lab

Early Language and Literacy Investigations (ELLI) Lab

Family Stress Lab

Insight Into Infants’ Internal Worlds (IIIW) Lab

Research in Autism and Developmental Disabilities (RADD) Lab