Development

Development lies at the core of my research interests. I seek to describe and explain developmental phenomena, and to apply what is learned to designing educational experiences that optimize developmental outcomes.

I am interested in studying development whenever and wherever it takes place, and in learning more about the foundations on which progress builds. Thus, I study a wide age range (infants; preschoolers; elementary, middle, and high-school students; young and mature adults). I examine both starting foundations and developmental progressions that are linked to age (e.g., how can map understanding or gender identity be characterized at different ages? how and why do these change from early childhood to adolescence?). I also try to identify and understand why there are individual and group differences in these foundations and progressions (e.g., are sex differences in spatial skills evident even in infancy, and if so why?). When I uncover individual or group differences, I try to find ways to enhance skills (e.g., can children who have less advanced spatial skills be taught to improve them? When children have highly gender-stereotyped attitudes, can educational interventions expand the educational and occupational choices they consider?).

Additional information about my work may be found in descriptions of specific substantive topics of spatial cognition, graphics/art, gender and social groups, and science education.