Three of our graduate students recently earned their Master’s degrees! Jessica Caporaso, Kimmy Marble, and Delaney Collyer successfully defended their thesis research to their faculty committees.
These accomplishments would not be possible without the families and schools who volunteer with the DUCK Lab–thank you for your contributions!
Please read below for more information about the findings from each of these graduate students’ studies:
Jessica Caporaso, The Use of Mindfulness Training to Examine the Role of Executive Function in Preschool Peer Conflict: Peer conflict is common in preschool classrooms. It is important that children develop appropriate conflict resolution skills because these skills relate to peer acceptance, friendship, and psychosocial well-being. Mindfulness training teaches children to think before they act, which may promote competent responses to peer conflict. However, children often face situations that dampen their ability to do so, such as having to sit and wait a while for a desired activity. Jessica’s thesis examined how both mindfulness training and a waiting activity affected children’s abilities to respond to peer conflict. Mindfulness training increased girls' ability to think before choosing responses to peer conflict. In addition, children chose more negative responses to peer conflict after the waiting activity, which suggests that they have a harder time responding appropriately to peer conflict when tired or frustrated. Because children may be more vulnerable to aggressive reactions when tired, parents and educators may want to provide increased guidance regarding how to respond appropriately to peer conflict.
Kimmy Marble, Learning in cultural contexts: Children’s evaluations of learning experiences and cultural expertise: At an early age, children are aware of differences in cultural identity (e.g., nationality). It is important to understand how children use this information if we are to document the emergence of culture-based ideas about people (e.g., what they know; what they are like). Kimmy examined how 6-to 9-year-olds used information about story characters' cultural identity and type of learning (e.g., from a book or from a person) to evaluate characters’ knowledge for cultural practices. Children recognized that an unfamiliar cultural identity was an indication of greater expert knowledge for practices specific to that culture. Characters who learned about the practice from another person (rather than a book) were judged as particularly knowledgeable. These findings reveal an appreciation by children that knowledge is culture-specific and an emerging idea that learning from others is the most beneficial way to acquire new information.
Delaney Collyer, Patterns of Self–Other Overlap in Children: Self–other overlap refers to viewing oneself and close others (e.g., friends) as highly similar and related. This overlap with others is important because it may affect children’s identity development (i.e., their ideas about themselves), their motivation to form relationships, and their learning, understanding, and empathy for others’ experiences. Delaney’s thesis examined how children experience overlap with close peers (best friends) and more distant peers (friends they don’t know as well) at different ages. She found that 5-to 8-year-olds express a higher sense of overlap with their close than distant peers, but that self–other overlap patterns in children’s thoughts about their own and others’ identities may not become clear until older childhood or adolescence.