For Parents

What Interests Us:

The Study of Children’s Thinking is an NSF funded program investigating children’s reasoning. The focus is on the process of generalization, or using the past to make predictions about the future. Generalization is a central component of learning: It’s how we apply what we have learned in one situation when faced with new circumstances. We hope that by studying the process of generalization we will be able to design more effective forms of instruction and better understand how children come to make sense of their world.
We are working to learn more about the ways children think about the world. To get a better idea about development, we interview children from 4 to 8 years of age. We do not “test” the abilities of individual children. Rather, we focus on the changes in reasoning among children in their preschool and elementary years.

What Happens at the Lab:


We’re located at the Educational Sciences building at 1025 W. Johnson St. in downtown Madison (in the TALL part of the building):
Campus Map Here

There is parking in the Grainger Business School, as well as metered parking on Mills Street and Brooks Street. Let us know how much you paid for parking and we’ll reimburse you at your appointment. We’ll meet you inside the building, near the main entrance (by the Business Office) off of Johnson Street.

When you bring your child to our lab, plan to spend about 1-hour altogether. Testing will take about 45 minutes to an hour, but we will schedule a break and a snack during that time. Our researcher will meet you and your child and spend a few minutes getting acquainted with your child before beginning the session. He or she will explain the procedure and begin when your child is ready. Your child will hear brief stories about people or animals, usually accompanied by pictures depicting some action. The researcher will ask your child questions about the story. All of the stories and pictures are non-threatening. Children usually enjoy participating, but your child is free to stop at any time. You will be invited to watch your child participate, and you can stop the study if at any time you have a concern for your child. You and your child will receive $10 and a small gift as compensation for your trip and participation.


If you have a question or would like information about helping us with this important research about children’s cognitive development, please feel free to give us a call at 608-616-0686 or email us at

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