The Child Language Interactions and Memory (CLIaM) research lab focuses broadly on the intersection of language and cognitive development, learning through social-interactive processes, and family digital technology practices in young children. Our multi-pronged research agenda utilizes both qualitative and quantitative approaches and integrates interdisciplinary theory from developmental psychology, education and linguistics to address issues facing children and families today.

Our current research project explores the intersection of technology use and family interactions during informal science learning through partnership with the Aquarium of the Pacific, examining the ways in which technology impacts the quality of parent-child interactions and child STEM learning. Her research also investigates the development and origins of child conversational and narrative skills and explores socio-emotional and cultural factors that contribute to children’s development of linguistic skills.

Our current project is a multi-year program of inquiry, in partnership with Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific and Long Beach Unified School District. The project is designed to deepen our understanding of family smartphone practices while engaged in informal science learning and consider implications of family practices as they may connect with classroom learning, as well as help us to explore the connections that can be made between literacies in school, at home, and in informal learning spaces. The pilot phase characterized family practices relating to smartphone and digital photography use during informal science learning and described variation in the quantity and quality of parent-child conversations as a function of smartphone presence and degree of use.

In the next project phase, our short-term goals are to 1) determine whether and how families talk about digital photos during and after an aquarium visit; 2) assess the potential of digital photos to enhance family science literacy practices during an aquarium visit and children’s recall of science-related information after an aquarium visit; and 3) examine whether and how instruction focused on related content (scientific literacies and digital literacies) connects to the ways families talk (and write) about their aquarium visit, before, during and after the visit. The project’s long-term goals are to 1) identify conversational techniques to improve quality of family smartphone interactions; 2) test the efficacy of a facilitated education program at the Aquarium of the Pacific for promoting family interactions that utilize smartphones and digital photography for STEM learning during and after the informal learning experience; 3) examine the impact of such family interactions on child STEM learning and family literacy practices; and 4) partner with local schools and/or teachers to examine transferability of informal learning practices to more formal school STEM literacy and digital literacy practices.

The CLIaM lab (pronounced: “climb”) was established in 2013 by Dr. Kimberly R. Kelly at California State University, Long Beach. For more information about the lab or to inquire about how to get involved, please contact Dr. Kelly at kimberly.kelly(at)csulb.edu.

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