P A R T I C I P A T E
We would like to invite you and your child(ren) to participate in a research study. We are looking for children between 4 and 31 months of age to complete fun studies in the Infant Cognitive Development Lab at North Dakota State University. These studies usually take about 20 to 40 minutes and in most cases, you are not obligated to participate more than once. However, there a few studies that require multiple surveys, multiple visits and/or a take-home portion. We will let you know what type of study your infant is eligible for when we contact you for a visit. Most of our studies are non-invasive; we only watch what your child does naturally. For example, we let babies or toddlers play with toys or watch objects as they move on a puppet stage. You will stay with your child the entire time. Many children find the studies fun, and we are always happy to explain our research and our findings to interested parents after the study ends. We provide parking and a small item of compensation.
If you are interested in participating or if you have any questions, please contact us at the e-mail address or phone number listed below or use our online scheduling system by clicking the "Schedule an Appointment" button. Should you decide to participate, we will ask you for some basic information and be in touch about scheduling a mutually acceptable time.
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A Typical Visit to the Lab:
When you arrive at the ICDL, we will begin by asking you for some information about yourself and your baby. We will explain our procedures and make sure that all of your questions are answered. Of course, if you have any questions at any time during your visit, please feel free to ask.
Next, we will escort you and your baby or toddler to the observation room. Here we will begin the experiment. Your baby's behavior will be monitored by observers and may be recorded using digital video equipment. If you choose not to allow your baby to be video taped, he or she may still participate. We ask some parents to wear blacked-out sunglasses if the study is one in which babies are easily influenced by a parent's behavior.
After the experiment, the supervisor will explain the study and answer any additional questions you may have. You will receive some reading material and your child will receive a certificate and compensation item at the end of every visit.
Some studies, like the Baby Cam study, do not follow this format. If you would like more details about the procedures that will be used for your child, you can request more information before you schedule an appointment.
Siblings play in the toy area.
Explanation of Procedures
For studies involving object interaction, a researcher will provide objects, usually toys, for babies to play with or watch. During the play session, your baby may also be asked to play in the dark or to wear headphones which may be playing soft noises, white noise, or no sound. You may be asked to interact with your baby during this time.
Just like a "GoPro", babies get to wear miniature cameras so that we can see what a day-in-the-life of a baby is like. We will send you home with a set of micro-cameras or smiley-face cameras (see the photo above). Your baby will wear the cameras on a headband during the day. Later, we will analyze the videos for the types of experiences your baby has, such as the types of toys your baby plays with or how your baby holds or plays with toys.
For all of the experiments at the puppet stage, your child will sit on your lap or in an infant seat in front of a puppet-stage and watch events presented before them. While your baby watches the events, we will ask you to close your eyes or wear blacked out sunglasses so that your baby’s behavior is not influenced. Trained observers will record your infant’s eye patterns or actions during or after the "show."
When a search task is involved, your child will sit on your lap at a table. A research assistant will hide a toy/item or ask your baby to hide the toy/item. Then the research assistant would ask your baby to search for the hidden item. We may ask you to look away or close your eyes so that you do not influence your baby’s behavior. If needed, we may ask you to interact with your baby during this time.
During preference tasks, your child will sit on your lap at the stage or with you on the floor. A research assistant will show your baby a set of objects or toys. We will then record your baby's looking at each set or we will ask your baby to pick one of the objects/toys. We may ask you to look away or close your eyes so that you do not influence your baby’s behavior. If needed, we may ask you to interact with your baby during this time.
Taste, Smell & Food
Babies 2 to 6 months who have not yet started solid foods can participate in this study. The study involves a take-home portion and can last one week or up to the age of 9 months. Moms will complete a questionnaire about the foods eaten during pregnancy. Then each time baby is breast or formula fed, the person feeding baby will wear a necklace with scented or unscented fabric attached. Because we want to know what flavors babies are experiencing, we will ask that you keep a weekly food diary. Finally, we will ask you introduce one to four solid foods (rice cereal, peas, green beans, and chicken) and video your child during the feeding sessions for each food. For this study, you will receive additional compensation for each food questionnaire and food diary you complete, as well as for each video you submit (up to 12 videos).
We use the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID-III). Your child will be asked to do a variety of activities designed to assess cognitive, language, and/or motor development. The researcher will ask your baby to interact with toys or household objects or to perform actions, such as grasp an object or sit unsupported. The assessment also includes questionnaires for you to fill out. The procedure may take as many as 20 minutes longer than other procedures in this study (up to about 1 hour total).
We have several survey that can be taken online without visiting the lab. The surveys can take 15 to 40 minutes to complete, depending on the survey. Compensation for these surveys must be picked up from the lab or from the Human Development & Family Science Department at NDSU (EML Hall Rm 277), or parents can request that the compensation items be donated.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why study babies?
- Have you ever wondered what your baby is thinking? We have, too! For decades researchers across the world have been wondering what babies are thinking and what they know about their world. So we, and others like us, have developed ways to find out. You've probably read about some of this research in popular parenting magazines or seen studies on TV programs about parenting. Most parents are curious about infant development and we want to give them answers.
- One of the most common questions parents ask us is, “Why is this research so important?” There are a number of ways that our research has the potential to be helpful to parents and practitioners.
- Because our studies investigate learning in infants, we have identified ways that parents and other adults can help their infants learn. Read the information below about what we have learned in our lab so far and see if you agree (see the next question, “What have you learned so far?”) and see if you agree.
- In addition to what we've already learned, some of our current studies are investigating how motor development influences learning about objects. We may be able to identify ways that parents can help their infants who have motor delays learn more effectively.
- Finally, our studies investigate developmental visual processing. Our studies may be helpful to other researchers investigating abnormal visual processing, thus helping people with vision problems such as object agnosia (the inability to recognize objects).
Our research is focused on learning what babies know and how they learn about toys and other objects. Some of the things we’ve learned so far include:
- Babies learn about the color and pattern of toys better by looking and touching the toys than they do by just looking at them.
- Babies who have just started sitting but need to use their hands to stay up benefit from sitting upright in a seat when playing with new toys. This will allow them to stay in a hands-free position for easier toy exploration. (But it is important that babies have lots of time to practice sitting alone, too).
- When toys are different in brightness, not just color, babies have an easier time determining that they are distinct objects.
- And we are learning more!
- One of our studies involves a standardized assessment that compares infants’ cognitive, language, or motor development to other children of the same age. We provide parents with a report that shows where their child is developmentally. However, if you are concerned that your infant may have cognitive delays, you can contact Early Childhood Intervention (add link) for an assessment.
- No. Most of our procedures involve simply watching your baby and recording what he or she does naturally or asking you questions about your baby or his or her experiences. You can read more about our procedures in the text above.
- Because our studies are similar to what your baby might do at home, risk is minimal. A majority of babies find our studies entertaining or fun. At most, some babies might find our studies uninteresting or boring.
- Any private information you might give us is considered confidential. We will keep all of your information (even the fact that you've participated) private. This information is securely stored in a locked room.
- The more the merrier! We have a play area for older children and one of our staff will be more than happy to watch your child while you and your baby participate in a study.
- Most of our studies only take about 20 or 30 minutes. The standardized assessment study takes longer, often about an hour. Sometimes we will take a break for the comfort of you or your baby. If so, a study may last longer than usual.
- Most studies stand alone and do not require a second visit. The standardized assessment study has multiple scales (cognitive, language, motor development), so if you want your baby to receive all of the assessments, you would need to come in multiple times, but it is not required. Of course, if you are interested in bringing your baby in for a second or even third study, we’d love to have you.
- Compensation depends on the study you participate in. When you visit our lab, your baby will receive an infant item (a onesie, a toy, a book, or some other small token of our appreciation). We do currently have one study that provides a small monetary compensation in addition to the baby item.
- You may decide at any time that you would like to withdraw from a study. If you or your baby are uncomfortable for any reason, we will be understanding of your desire to stop. If you are unable to come for a previously scheduled appointment, please call to let us know at 701-231-8873.
- We will do everything we can to make sure you and your baby are comfortable during your visit. We know that your baby can't tell us what he or she is thinking, so we'll stop a study if we think your baby is uncomfortable or upset.
- Each study is different. Most studies include about 100 infants to be complete, but some can include as many as 300. Because so many infants are needed, one study can take several years to complete.
- If you are interested in bringing your infant into our lab for a study, you can call our lab at 701-231-8873, email us at NDSU.firstname.lastname@example.org, or click on the "Schedule an Appointment" button to select an appointment time.
- Although in most of our studies observers monitor your baby's behavior while your baby is present, some behaviors are too complex to be captured within just a few minutes. As a result, we record those behaviors for later coding. Some of these more complex behaviors include the way babies search for objects and the way babies handle new objects. For example, some babies pat or scratch new objects while other babies squeeze or rub them.
- As with all of your information, these files are securely stored. Video files are labeled using numbers, never your baby's name. Even so, if you decide you'd rather not have your baby recorded, we will respect your wishes.
- Yes. If you would like a copy of the video you can bring in a jump drive and we will put the video on it. We cannot email videos to you because the files are too large to fit in an email.
- Certainly, although studies take many years to complete. You can check our website under the "Our Research" tab to read the results. Our studies are usually ready for publication after 2-3 years. If you don't know which study your child participated in, call the lab and we can help you identify the correct study.
North Dakota State University | Human Development and Family Science Department
Mailing Address: NDSU Department 2615 | PO Box 6050 | Fargo, ND 58108-6050
701-231-8268 | www.ndsu.edu/hdfs
Mailing Address: NDSU Department 2615 | PO Box 6050 | Fargo, ND 58108-6050
701-231-8268 | www.ndsu.edu/hdfs