Contemporary Perspectives on Research on Child Development Laboratory Schools in Early Childhood Education

Edited by:
Olivia Saracho, University of Maryland

A volume in the series: Contemporary Perspectives in Early Childhood Education. Editor(s): Olivia Saracho, University of Maryland.

Published 2019

Child development “laboratory schools are dedicated to research-based instruction and furthering innovation in education. Many of these schools are connected to universities, where students are able to benefit from university resources and best practices” (Khan, 2014). They have been in existence on university campuses for centuries in the United States. The earliest colonial colleges (e.g., Harvard, Yale, William and Mary, University of Pennsylvania) administered Latin schools or departments to prepare students for college (Good & Teller, 1973). Rutgers Preparatory School was founded in 1768 and was linked to the university until the 1950s (Sperduto, 1967). During the course of time, the laboratory schools have changed to meet the needs of the teaching professionals and have frequently guided the instructional methods to improve the science and art of teaching [International Association of Laboratory Schools (IALS), 2018]. They have also changed throughout the years from part-day, part-time programs (McBride, 1996, Myers & Palmer, 2017) to full-day child care, some of which is inclusive of care offered through student service funds (Keyes, 1984; Shirah, 1988).

Throughout the previous century, college and university institutions have established child development laboratory schools. In the early 1900s, they were initially considered to be sites for the recent discipline of child study but their purposes have progressed gradually. They also have assumed a fundamental function in promoting teaching, research, and service (such as outreach/engagement practice) in child development and early childhood education. However, a lot of them had to struggle for their survival when economic periods turned out to be problematic. Several extended operating programs were discontinued (Barbour & McBride, 2017).

In 1894 John Dewey founded the University of Chicago Laboratory School. His laboratory school is unquestionably the most well-known of experimental schools. It was used to research, develop, and confirm innovative theories and principles of child development and education. Later at the beginning of the early 1900s, exemplary schools were developed as important centers for the preparation of teachers. Dewey’s laboratory school and the preparation of interns in a hospital were used as a model for laboratory schools to focus on methodical research, dual faculty university appointments, and the preparation of preservice teachers. During the initial half of the 20th century, laboratory schools increased in colleges and universities, especially between 1920 and 1940. University-based child development laboratory programs assumed a critical responsibility in contributing to the knowledge base on child development and early childhood education as well as the professional development of early childhood educators. This concept of the child development laboratory schools has heavily influenced modern views. Researchers and educators need to understand the current sources based on theoretical frameworks that contribute to the purposes of the child development laboratory schools. The contents of the volume reflect the major shifts in the views of early childhood researchers and educators in relation to the research on child development laboratory schools, the role of child development laboratory programs in early childhood education, and their relationship to theory, research, and practice. The chapters in this special volume reviews and critically analyzes the literature on several aspects of the child development laboratory schools. This volume can be a valuable tool to researchers who are conducting studies in the child development laboratory schools and practitioners who are working directly or indirectly in these schools. It focuses on important contemporary issues on child development laboratory schools in early childhood education (ages 0 to 8) to provide the information necessary to make judgments about these issues. It also motivates and guides researchers to explore gaps in the child development laboratory schools’ literature.

PART I: HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE OF CHILD DEVELOPMENT LABORATORY SCHOOLS. Research and Issues on Child Development Laboratory Schools, Olivia N. Saracho. Historical Development and Influences of Laboratory Schools, Olivia N. Saracho. A Consortium of University-Affiliated Child Development Laboratories for Applied Developmental Science: A Hypothetical Journey, Nancy Barbour, Andrew Stremmel, D. Reece Wilson, and Jennifer Kampmann. Academics Versus Service in Child Development Laboratory Schools: Complimentary and Competing Pressures, Brent A. McBride and Meghan Fisher. PART II: MODELS OF CHILD DEVELOPMENT LABORATORY SCHOOLS. An Innovative Early Childhood Laboratory School Contemporary Model, Elizabeth Schlesinger-Devlin and Megan L. Purcell. From the Scientific Child to the Reconceptualized Child in Canadian University and College Early Childhood Laboratory Schools, Rachel Langford. Keeping Relevant in Changing Times: The Evolution of a University Laboratory School, Monica Miller-Marsh, Martha Lash, Pam Hutchins, and Rochelle Hostler. PART III: FUNCTIONS OF CHILD DEVELOPMENT LABORATORY SCHOOLS. The Role of the Child Development Laboratory School in a 21st Century Liberal Education, Sharon Carnahan. The Role of Laboratory Preschools in the Promotion of High-Quality Social-Emotional Guidance Practices, Rebecca Swartz. Early Childhood Teacher-as-Researcher: An Imperative in the Age of “Schoolification”: Harnessing Dewey’s Concept of the Laboratory School to Disrupt the Emerging Global Quality Crisis in Early Childhood Education, Emer Ring, Lisha O’Sullivan, and Marie Ryan. PART IV: CONCLUSION. Child Development Laboratory Schools: Contemporary Research and Future Directions, Olivia N. Saracho. About the Contributors.