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Creating a Classroom of Inquiry at the University of California at Berkeley: The Harold E. Jones Child Study Center
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THE HAROLD E. JONES CHILD STUDY CENTER
The Harold E. Jones Child Study Center is a research, training, dissemination, and outreach site, and houses the CSC Preschool, Jumpstart , and the Greater Good Science Center. The CSC was designed by the late, award-winning architect and UCB Professor, Joseph Esherick, in collaboration with Catherine Landreth, to cultivate research in a fresh air, indoor-outdoor preschool environment where researchers, teachers, and parents are partners in the study of children.
The CSC and the Institute of Human Development (IHD) originated in 1927 as the Institute of Child Welfare. The institute was established with support from the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Foundation as an organized research unit to study human development from the earliest stages of life. Berkeley was one of only five such sites established around the country. The mission of the Institute of Child Welfare was to provide a quality nursery school for children while giving scholars and students access to a young population for observation and research. Harold E. Jones was the first Director of Research, later serving as Director of the IHD from 1935-1960. The nursery school moved to its current location in 1960, and was named in honor of Professor Jones. It remains the longest continuously running child study center in the United States, attracting researchers and visitor from a variety of disciplines, including Education, Sociology, Linguistics, Architecture, Psychology, and Public Health.
The history and unique design of the CSC cultivates collaboration between research and teaching in the study of children and their development. In the past, research was led by notable teachers at the CSC, including Dr. Barbara Scales and Dr. Jane Perry, who have generated important contributions to knowledge about early childhood education, including the central role of play in young children's social and intellectual development.
Features of the CSC:
- two preschool classrooms
- an observation gallery hidden by one-way screens in both the indoor and outdoor areas of the two preschool classrooms
- individual testing rooms with one-way mirrors and audio access for others to observe research sessions
- a large conference room
- on-site research and childcare administrative staff
The CSC preschool is administered by UC Berkeley's Early Childhood Education Program (ECEP), which oversees seven childcare centers across campus. The centers provide research opportunities through the Institute of Human Development with children ranging in ages from 3 months to 5 years. The Research Coordinator at the Harold E. Jones Child Study Center coordinates research at all centers.
The following research projects are currently underway at the CSC and the other ECEP childcare centers:
- Research on causal learning in young children by psychology professor Alison Gopnik and her students focuses on the development of young children's comprehension about self and others, and asserts that the world is understood by young children in terms of causal relations between people and objects.
- Research by post-doctoral fellow Anna Waismeyer investigates how young children reason about spatial relationships in the world. Her current study examines how social cues play a role in children's use of landmarks to find a hidden object.
- Research on inductive learning and statistical inference in infants and young children by pscyhology professor Fei Xu and her students investigates how young children learn new words that label object categories, how infants use statistical information to make generalizations in their physical reasoning, and how infants and children make judgments about other people's preferences.
- Research on child visual development by psychology professor David Whitney and post-doctoral fellow Tim Sweeny investigates how young children use visual information to quickly perceive the characteristics or actions of a group. Their current study uses computer-generated moving "people" to examine children's ability to perceive which direction a crowd is heading.
2425 Atherton St. #6070, Berkeley, CA 94720-6070
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General Information: Lisa Branum
Admissions information: Marina Moreida
Preschool Information: Christine Hansel