The Science of Development in Context
The Science of Learning Lab at the University of California, Irvine seeks to understand the basic mechanisms of learning, their development, and how they function in dynamic, complex, everyday settings. We believe that this integrated approach will help us develop both rich theory and well-supported insights into optimizing educational practices.
Science of Learning Lab researchers use a range of settings and methodologies to study preschool through undergraduate learners. Studies take place in the laboratory or in the everyday environments of homes, math and science classrooms, and museums. We use experiments and computational simulations, video-based studies of naturally-occurring learning interactions, cross-cultural comparisons, and longitudinal data analysis.
Current Projects and Recent Findings
Many of our studies investigate the way children begin to produce, and learn from, metaphors and analogies. A part of everyday reasoning, metaphors and analogies provide rich cognitive opportunities for children to draw inferences and develop adaptable, conceptual knowledge. We explore the cognitive mechanisms underlying these skills, postulating that maturing executive function resources are a key part of how and when children develop these aspects of higher order thinking. Relationships between these skills and children's home, educational, and language environments are closely examined. Our studies further investigate typical classroom instruction, or educational technologies, and the role of cognitive demands on learners' ability to engage in higher order thinking opportunities. Other projects explore international education practices, how children learn to make comparisons, and the effects of pre-testing on long term learning. More details on our specific projects can be found below.