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2111F PSYCHOLOGY BUILDING
University of California
Riverside, CA 92521
(951) 827-4690 (Voice)
(951) 827-3985 (Fax)
Associate Vice Provost of Faculty Success, Equity &Diversity
Professor of Psychology
- Chancellorís Office
- Chancellor's Office
The development of thinking is a complex process affected both by internal maturational factors and by
external experiences. My research focuses on the integration of these factors with particular attention to
the role of sociocultural experiences in the acquisition, organization, and use of cognitive skill. I have written theoretical
papers on this topic. In studying these processes I have concentrated on the ways in which children and adults solve
problems in several domains, including spatial thinking and planning skills.
Of particular interest in my research is the influence of experience with others, peers and adults, in the development of
cognitive skill. Much of this work is guided by theoretical views, such as those by Vygotsky and Piaget, that suggest that
collaboration may facilitate the development of thinking as children become exposed to and participate in problem solving
that would be inaccessible to them if they were working alone. I have conducted research that supports this point by showing
that children who previously planned in collaboration with another planned more on later individual trials than children who
did not previously collaborate. Recently I have been investigating how child compliance may regulate collaboration in
parent-child dyads. My hypothesis is that noncompliance may function as a coercive way of getting adults to adjust the
guidance and support for children they provide during joint problem solving.
In addition to examining the influence of social collaboration on cognitive development, I am also concerned with how the
structure of a task or experiencewith a setting may influence the development of thinking skills. This interest is central in my
research in spatial cognition which has involved studies of the influence of the goal that guides exploration of a space on the
development of children's spatial knowledge, the influence of experience in the workplace on the organization and use of
spatial knowledge among adults, and the influence of everyday spatial experiences among Navajo children on their ability to
plan a route through a familiar setting.
Most recently I have conducted a project examining what children do after school. My initial question in this study was
"What do children do when they have nothing to do?" However, this question had gradually changed as I discover that many
children, particularly those in certain sociocultural communities, rarely have "nothing to do." Many young children today
have their time extensively committed both during and after school hours. These patterns have peaked my interest in the
ecology of young children's everyday lives, particularly in relation to the larger cultural values and commitments these
practices reflect, and I plan to conduct further research on this topic.
Scripps College, Claremont University
- BA Social Ecology 1975
- UC Irvine
- MA Sociology of Education 1976
- Stanford University
- PhD Developmental Psychology 1982
- University of Utah
2009 Association for Psychological Science, Fellow
2009 American Educational Research Association, Fellow
2007 American Association for the Advancement of Science, Psychology
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