Research 2018-11-02T15:38:47+00:00

Research at the CDCLR is faculty and graduate-student driven and covered under a CDCLR or investigator-specific IRB (Institutional Review Board) approvals.  Recent work includes studies on:

  • Child assessment
  • Gesture
  • Cognitive development

CDCLR research faculty also conduct program and policy evaluation research with local and state partners regarding early childhood education, family interventions, childhood prevention/intervention systems, and PK-12 educational policies.  Funding has included:

  • National Science Foundation (including REU and RET for CDCLR teachers)
  • Administration for Children and Families – Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
  • Fairfax Futures
  • Smart Beginnings (Greater Roanoke; Danville Pittsylvania)
  • Virginia Department of Education
  • Virginia Department of Social Services
  • Virginia Early Childhood Foundation

Recent studies:

Denham, S.A., Basset, H.H., Zinsser, K., Bradburn, I.S, Bailey, C., & Shewark, E. , Ferrier, D.E., Liverette, K.H., Steed J., & Karalus, S.P. (under review). Computerized Social-Emotional Assessment Battery for School Readiness.    

Michaels, M**. & Smith, E**. (2018, April).  Effects of Gesture on Child Learning.  Presented at the Child Development Center for Learning and Research, Virginia Tech.  Research Supervisor: I.S. Bradburn.

*= graduate student
**= undergraduate student

Upcoming student research opportunities:

Enrolling approved undergraduates in Undergraduate Research (HD 4994) for FALL, 2019.  Topic: Gesture in early childhood classrooms related to learning.

Contact Dr. Bradburn,, for forms and appointment.

If you are interested in learning more about our research programs, or for a complete list of CDCLR studies, please contact Isabel Bradburn, Ph.D., Research Director, at

For Families

Enrolling your child at Virginia Tech’s Child Development Center for Learning and Research enters you and your family into the exciting world of developmental and education science research.  Researchers from a variety of disciplines work with our center’s faculty to improve our understanding of young children, their environments and how best to nurture and educate them. By enrolling your child at the Center, you become a contributor to increasing scientific knowledge about optimizing children’s and families’ growth.

Details of the kinds of research conducted at the Center are given in the Parent Handbook.  All studies are approved by Virginia Tech’s Institutional Review Board (IRB), which provides oversight for the protection of participants involved in research.   All studies require parental permission.

CDCLR researchers are working with policy makers across the state and the nation and you have a chance to be a part of this exciting time in early childhood education and developmental science.

Important Links

Parent Handbook Research Section

Child Assent Form

Observation Policy:
ALL observers are asked to respect the privacy of children and teachers being observed.  Observational content should NEVER be used as a topic of social conversation or in any disrespectful manner.  REMEMBER THAT ALL INFORMATION REGARDING CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES IS CONFIDENTIAL. It is a serious violation of educational and research ethics as well as the code of conduct to break this confidentiality.   In the spirit of the honor system, please report any violation of this policy to the Director, Karen Gallagher, 231-6148. Thank you for maintaining an ethical and respectful code of conduct in observing our classrooms.

General research summaries on selected topics related to child and family development:

  • Children and Emotion.  Paul L. Harris, 1989.  Blackwell Publishers.
  • Children’s Play:  The Roots of Reading.  Editors:  Edward F. Zigler, Dorothy G. Singer, Sandra J. Bishop-Josef, 2004.
  • The Scientist in the Crib:  What Early Learning Tells Us about the Mind.  Alison Gopnik, Andrew Meltzoff, Patricia Kuhl, 1999.  HarperCollins/Perennial Books.
  • What’s Going on in There?  How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life.  Lise Eliot, Ph.D.  1999/2000. Bantam Books.
  • The Yale Child Study Center Guide to Understanding Your Child:  Healthy Development from Birth to Adolescence.  L.C. Mayes & D. J. Cohen, 2002.  New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  • When Partners Become Parents:  The Big Life Change for Couples.  Philip A. Cowan and Carolyn P. Cowan, 1992/2000.  Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Summaries of recent research and related policy recommendations – more scholarly but very readable:

  • Eager to Learn:  Educating our Preschoolers.  National Research Council, 2001.  National Academy Press.
  • From Neurons to Neighborhoods:  The Science of Early Childhood Development.  National Research Council, 2000.  National Academy Press.
  • How People Learn:  Brain, Mind, Experience and School.  National Research Council, 2000.  National Academy Press.
  • Investing in Children, Youth, Families and Communities:  Strengths-Based Research and Policy.  Eds:  K.I. Maton, C.J. Schnellenbach, BJ. Leadbeater, & A.L. Solarz, 2003.  American Psychological Association.

“How To” books based on solid research programs:

  • Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child:  The Heart of Parenting.  John Gottman, Ph.D. and Joan DeClaire, 1997.  Simon and Schuster Fireside Books.
  • From One Child to Two:  What to Expect, How to Cope, and How to Enjoy your Growing Family.  Judy Dunn, 1995.  Ballantine Books.
  • Teaching Your Child the Language of Social Success.   Marshall Duke, Steve Nowicki, and Elisabeth Martin, 1996.  Peachtree Publishers.

And, for a big dose of perspective, see:

  • Raising America:  Experts, Parents and a Century of Advice about Children.  Ann Hulbert, Knopf, 2003.  (Social history on parent education and “Dr. Spocking” of America during the 20th century.)

For Researchers

We encourage research being conducted at the Child Development Center for Learning and Research, and welcome your interest.  If you would like to pursue a study at the center or recruit participants through us for a research project, please review our policies and procedures, and schedule an appointment with Isabel Bradburn, Ph.D., Research Director.

Important Links