Associate Professor of Cognitive Development
Melissa's research interests center on memory development, particularly memory for personal experiences. She has been exploring how parental verbal support may contribute to children's ability to recall the past.
In addition, she is interested in how emotion may affect reports of past experiences and how parents and children talk about these events.
She is currently examining autobiographical memory from a cross-cultural perspective to study how different socialization experiences may relate to the detail included in memory reports.
In this course we will discuss the processes by which children come to acquire, recall, and use knowledge. This course will focus on development from infancy to middle childhood. By reading primary literature, we will examine the emergence and refinement of children's ability to form concepts, recall the past, and extend knowledge to new situations. We will consider methodological challenges and approaches to studying children's abilities, including naturalistic observations, and controlled laboratory studies. We will review literature on findings and theories of development in each area and discuss how changes in children's representational abilities contribute to these abilities. Students will make class presentations based on research articles, write short papers in response to class topics, and develop a research proposal on a topic of interest discussed in the course. This course satisfies Division I distribution requirements.
Technology is increasingly present in the lives of children. Advances in computers, the Internet, smartphones, and social media have greatly impacted how and when we access information as well as the nature of our interactions with others. These advances can lead to both potential benefits and concerns. For example, we will consider 1) how children engage with material through eBooks and online to explore factors that affect reading comprehension, 2) how social media might play a part in peer interactions and the sense of self, and 3) the pros and cons of playing video games. We will review the academic literature examining the impact of these types of technologies and also consider how schools and families incorporate these tools into children's daily lives. Students will present topics in class, write a series of short papers, and develop a research proposal on a related topic of their own interest.
In this course students will gain first- hand experience in the process of conducting research in autobiographical memory. Students will be exposed to some of the main issues in autobiographical memory for personal past events throughout the childhood years and into adulthood. We will consider the potential roles of social interaction, self, culture, and emotionality of events as well as developmental changes in autobiographical memory reports. Course requirements will include reading primary research articles, and designing and executing an original research project. This is an intensive course comprising instruction in all areas of the research process, including collection, coding, and analysis of data. Prerequisite detail: One course in psychology
Memory is not pudding, it is an elephant - while pudding is the same throughout, you cannot generalize across different types of memory. In this course we will discuss the many types of memory we use daily, from remembering the name of a new acquaintance, a favorite concert, or even how to ride a bike. We will explore the constructive nature of memories and how they may change over time as well as how memory capabilities develop over the life course. We will also discuss the neurological underpinnings of memory. However, students do not need to have a background in neuroscience. In addition to reading scholarly research and participating in demonstrations of the various forms of memory and their properties, students will be expected to write a series of brief papers throughout the semester and a larger final research proposal.