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Welcome to the Social Learning Lab!

At Boston University School of Education


In the Social Learning Laboratory, we research children’s use of social and cognitive information when learning about the world.  During the preschool period, the child’s social horizon expands dramatically.  Increasingly, they can learn from teachers and peers as well as from their immediate family.  An issue central to both social and cognitive development is how children navigate these diverse sources of information.  An understanding of the cues that facilitate learning in young children can inform classroom practices, interventions, and the provision of digital information.

Some of the questions we ask are:

  • How does a child decide that an adult is a trustworthy source?
  • How do children decide that fictional figures (like Snow White) are pretend but historical figures (like Abraham Lincoln) are real? And how do they view religious figures?
  • Do children believe written material or spoken language is more trustworthy?
  • Which sources of information do children prefer to trust?
  • Do children prefer to learn from the group even when the group is not correct?
  • How do children decide that someone is an expert?
  • Which is more important for children: being truthful, or being nice?
  • How is parent teaching style related to student learning style?
  • What kinds of explanations do children expect from adults?