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.
The majority of adults are able to read fluently. However, when children learn to read, the process is dependent on a number of skills and requires a great deal of adult guidance. In this course we will discuss the cultural importance of literacy across societies and throughout childhood. We will focus on the development of the complex skill of reading, including phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, and higher-order processes that contribute to decoding and text comprehension. Because instruction can play a determining factor in children's acquisition of literacy skills, we will study early reading materials and examine strategies that are employed in the classroom to facilitate the acquisition of these skills. Evaluation will be based on class participation, a series of short papers, and a longer final project.
This course will prepare students to become peer mentors for the Knowledge Commons. Although there is some mentoring this semester as assignments in the course, students must be willing to commit to being peer mentors in the Fall of 2019. We will engage research on student learning and the value of mentoring relationships, explore how to facilitate learning in these relationships, develop an understanding of what it means to be in a mentoring role, and observe and learn from mentors in action. In smaller groups, students will apprentice as mentors for a specific Knowledge Commons program, choosing among: Gallery (curatorial and installation support), Holistic Learning Program (help students respond to a desire for academic self-improvement through support with academic tools and strategies, goal-setting, and problem-solving), Library Media Labs (media production and maker space support), Quantitative Resource Center (peer tutoring in mathematics, statistics, and coding), or Research and Technology (support with research and technology use for academic projects).
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