Department's signature emphasis on RPI (research and practice integration) is
reflected in many ways: in range of centers and labs that are part of or
extensions of the Department; in the nature of research conducted by faculty;
and in the many community based partnerships through which collaborative
research and applied projects are implemented.
Here we provide brief
descriptions of our main research labs and institutes, our applied centers, and
community based partnerships.
Please click on
the following links for more information about our research centers, institutes
and special programs.
Centers, Institutes and Special Programs
- Center for Reading and Language Research
This center was established in 1994 by Prof. Maryanne Wolf in the Eliot-Pearson Department
of Child Development, funded by a major federal research grant to Prof. Wolf.
The center is staffed by a multi-disciplinary group of researchers dedicated to
conducting high quality research on all aspects of reading development. The
mission of the Center for Reading and Language Research is threefold:
- To pursue basic knowledge about
how the brain learns to read across all ages of development,
different languages, and varied forms of reading and learning
- To apply this knowledge to the
learning and well-being of children and adults who struggle to
- To disseminate this basic and
applied knowledge base through our teaching, research,
professional development, clinical practice, publications, and
efforts in the greater community.
- The Developmental Technologies Research Group
This research and program development lab is directed by Prof.
Marina Bers at the Eliot-Pearson Department of
Child Development, Tufts University. The projects in the lab aims to
understand how new technologies can play a positive
role in children's development and learning. The research involves three
dimensions: theoretical contributions, design of new technologies and empirical
work with populations to test and evaluate the theory and the technologies.
Developmental technologies are computational tools and technologically-rich
interventions purposefully designed and used with the goal of supporting young
people in their developmental quest.
The DevTech Research Group provides opportunities for Graduate
and Undergraduate students to gain experience working on a nationally
funded research project. These students work in a lab setting, in schools in
their community, and in an annual summer camp.
- Massachusetts Healthy Families Evaluation
Since 1998, three Eliot-Pearson faculty (Easterbrooks, Jacobs, Mistry) have directed, as
co-PIs, the Massachusetts Healthy Families Evaluation (MHFE). This large project
is an interdisciplinary example (cultural psychology, developmental science,
program evaluation) of applied research that serves as Eliot-Pearson's
signature. Using Jacobs' (1988) Five-tiered Approach to evaluation, MHFE
examines a statewide child maltreatment prevention program, Healthy Families
Massachusetts (HFM), funded by the Massachusetts legislature. MHFE has been
collecting and analyzing data on the implementation of the HFM program, and
benefits to young children and their families. A second cohort study – an RCT –
began in 2008; we recently received funds to follow the families and children
into early childhood and elementary school years, and to examine the HFM program
implementation as it matures and responds to research findings. We have
engaged hundreds of students over those years; last year alone 44 students
(undergraduate, MA-level, and doctoral-level) were involved with the MHFE
- The Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development
The Institute has the mandate and goal to be a center of excellence for the conduct and
dissemination of top-tier scholarship and for the education and professional
development of graduate and undergraduate students interested in enhancing the
lives of diverse children, families, and communities. It envisions a world
wherein the strengths possessed by all young people are used to promote their
positive development, life chances, and civic engagement, and, as well, to
advance the institutions of civil society. All work at the Institute is grant
supported. The Institute supports the training of typically eight to 12
doctoral students a year, two post-doctoral fellows, and several staff members.
The Institute is also the home for the Research and Policy Office of America's
promise Alliance, which is directed by Dr. Jonathan Zaff. As noted earlier, the
Institute has produced more than 300 publications in its 12+ years of existence
and has garnered more than $15 million in grant support.
- YouthBEAT --Research and Evaluation on Arts and Youth Development
The YouthBEAT lab is directed by Prof. Camara. Started in fall 2007, the lab projects are
focused on the study of the role of music participation in enhancing youth
development and represents collaborations between Tufts and Berklee College of
Music in Boston, MA. and other after-school program sites throughout the U.S.
A longitudinal-sequential research and evaluation
design is used to examine how the experiences of youths in these programs
support musical and other academic achievement, cultural identity, resilience,
and social and leadership skills among boys and girls in ethnically, culturally
and racially diverse settings. The framework for the study is one based on the
identification of positive processes related to youth development. The
project uses a mixed method design with multiple measures including individual
interviews with youth, parents, teachers and mentors, faculty and
administrators; standardized and specially developed measures for all
participants; digitally recorded observations of ensemble classes, and
observations of theory and musicianship classes, and private lessons,
assessments of student learning through observations and interviews; collection
and analysis of audition and interview data and assessment data from the
program; as well as online surveys and questionnaires.
This design provides both formative diagnostic data
to help guide program development as well as data on how participation in
strengths-based programs can foster positive development among youths in
- Families and Children in Challenging Circumstances (FaCCC)
This research lab is directed by Prof. Pinderhughes. The primary goal of
the research program is to contribute an understanding of developmental
processes that occur within families whose children are at risk for
dysfunctional behavior so that policies,
interventions and services can be improved or designed to facilitate optimal
child outcomes. Families that include children at-risk face unique challenges as
they confront the socialization task of preparing their children to function in
developmentally appropriate ways in the larger society. Helping families
successfully meet these challenges presents important and interesting clinical
and social policy issues. Specific ongoing studies include: research on adoptive
families with a focus on child and family readjustment; research on at-risk
children in biological families which involves hypothesis testing examination
with large samples over multiple years.
- The Toddler Development Project,
formerly International Adoption Project
Adoption and Development Project
- Child and Family WebGuide
The goal of
the WebGuide is to give the public easy access to the best child development
information on the Web. It describes trustworthy websites on topics of interest
to parents and professionals. It was created in April 2001, by faculty at the
Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University and librarians
Tisch Library, also at Tufts. All the sites listed on the
WebGuide have been systematically evaluated by graduate students and faculty in
child development. These sites have been selected from thousands that are
available on the Web, based primarily on the quality of the information they
provide. Since its unveiling, the WebGuide has continued to add topics and
features. From April 2001 to March 2003 the number of topics increased from 40
to 100. New features such as Ask an Expert and Research News were added in April
2003 at which time the site was completely re-designed.
- Diversity Dialogues Project (Directed by Prof. Camara)
A second project, Diversity Dialogues, conceived and directed by Dr. Kathleen Camara,
with consultation from Monica Ndounou, Associate Professor, Department of Drama,
the Group of Six directors, and other faculty throughout the university, is a
research-based applied theater project based on the study of micro aggressions.
It is supported through a grant from the AS&E Diversity Funds and by donations
from various departments at Tufts University. The objectives for the project are
to reveal and explore "micro aggressions" that take place at Tufts through the
medium of research-based applied theater; to create self-awareness of
cultural identities, biases, attitudes and behaviors and to cultivate awareness,
learning and appreciation for others in our community; and to encourage a
continued dialogue about the significance of multicultural fluency and an
orientation toward social justice in our community. Through the medium of
research-based applied theater, stories of real events are being gathered and
will be represented within a dramatic production. Vignettes and characters are
created from the information gathered by those interviewed. Characters are
composites of people who may have undergone similar experiences and are
presented within a monologue, dialogue or group vignette. Approximately 25
undergraduate and graduate students have participated in planning and collecting
stories over the past two years. Thus far, an additional 55 Tufts students
have participated in interviews and in discussion forums coordinated and led by
Dr. Camara and the Diversity Dialogues team. The project team hopes to
present its production in 2012.
The Department's two laboratory facilities play a central role in the life of
the Department. They provide caring and learning environments for children and
families as well as support for Tufts students' research and applied experience.
The schools provide a continuous opportunity to ground faculty and students in
the real world of children, and over the years, they have become models for
developmental education serving diverse groups of children.
The Center for Applied Child Development provides invaluable outreach programs
and consultation to educators and school systems in the greater Boston Area. The
Tufts University Center for Child coordinates and supports child related
projects and programs throughout Tufts University.
- Eliot-Pearson Children's School
The Eliot-Pearson Children's School is the laboratory-demonstration program of the
Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University. Our program
serves as a model and demonstration facility, providing training and observation
site for new and experienced teachers, undergraduate and graduate students in
Child Development, and a research facility for faculty and supervised students
in the Department of Child Development. The school serves 80 children and
families in three preschool classrooms, a kindergarten and a first/second
grade. The school has several missions: to provide high quality service to
children and families, to be a site for teaching training and research; a site
to develop and disseminate new ideas in teaching and learning; to develop
collaborations and outreach with community schools and programs, and a site for
professional development for both in-service and pre-service teacher education.
The Eliot-Pearson Children's School is based on a socio-constructivist model of
teaching and learning, where children are actively engaged in the learning
process and with a focus on the social and collaborative dimensions of learning.
The Children's School is committed to providing appropriate inclusive education
for all children. The school actively seeks student populations that represent a
wide variety of ability, racial, ethnic, religious, linguistic, cultural, family
and economic background. Diversity is a core value in the community and the
school incorporates an anti-bias perspective in all the programs.
- Evelyn G. Pitcher Curriculum Resource Laboratory
The curriculum laboratory is named after a professor emerita and former Department
chair, is designed to support creativity in curriculum development and
documentation of student learning. Faculty and students often offer workshops in
the lab throughout the academic year which cover a variety of topics, including
multicultural curriculum development, children's literature, science, technology
and math learning. This facility is the site for many of the core courses in the
Early Childhood Education program, and provides space, resources, and materials
for student teachers to develop curriculum plans for their student teaching
experiences. The lab also is the site of a number of student training activities
in fields such as children and technology, children's literature and art,
multicultural curriculum development, and early elementary science and math. The
lab includes studio space, a well-equipped workshop, and technology materials.
Doctoral students have conducted research on early childhood curriculum
development resulting in qualifying papers and dissertation research.
- Tufts Educational Day Care Center
The Tufts Educational Day Care Center offers
a full educational day care program for approximately 85 children, ages 3-6,
including a certified kindergarten. The Center provides developmental care and
innovative education for children and families of varied ethnic backgrounds in
the Tufts and Medford-Somerville communities.