FAQs for Families

How can my child participate in research at your lab?
If you have a child between 4 and 11 years of age, and you are interested in finding out more about our research, you can contact us at (972) 883-6075, by email at thinklab@utdallas.edu. We will then contact you to arrange an appointment, depending on the studies available at that time. If you are not the legal guardian of the participating child, you must request a consent form from us for the legal guardian to sign prior to bringing the participating child in for an appointment.

I have received a form from my child’s school about participating. How does this work?
We often work with local schools and daycares on our projects. When working with schools, our research team will go to the school and work with the children whose parents gave permission. If your child is interested in participating that day, he or she will meet with a member of our research team to answer some questions or play games. Our projects are designed to measure how children think about the world in age-appropriate ways. It’s incredibly easy to participate: just sign the form, return it to your child’s school, and we’ll come to where your child is!

How long will participating in the study take?
Each research study takes approximately 15-50 minutes with each child. If you bring your child to participate in our research lab, your entire visit should last from 30 minutes to about an hour, depending on the study.

Where do the appointments take place?
If your child is participating through their school, our research team will go to the school. If you are participating in our lab, these sessions take place at Green Hall on the University of Texas at Dallas campus in Richardson. Convenient free parking is provided through our lab. See directions to our lab.

Can I bring along other children?
Sure!  If your other children are eligible, we would love to have them participate as well!  If not, our lab has a waiting area with comfortable seating, toys, and books for children to use while testing is going on. You can see a tour of our waiting area and testing space.  We will also have a trained research assistant on hand to look after your child during your visit if needed.

There are also several other laboratories in the psychology department doing projects with children, so it may be possible for all of your children to participate in several studies!

What happens during a visit?
Before the study begins, we will have you fill out a consent form which tells you about the study. We will also answer any questions you may have.

Your child will then be taken into a small room (with windows so parents can observe) that is connected to our waiting room, where your child will answer some questions with a member of our research team. You can see pictures of our testing space, and you can find out more about the research currently going on in our laboratory.

Will I or my child receive any benefit from participating at the lab?
After your child completes the study, he or she will get to choose a prize package as a thank you for participating, and parents will receive information about fun science experiments and cognitive games to play with your child. For most of our studies, as compensation for the time and travel, you will also receive a gift card, with the amount of the card depending on the project. In addition, our families tell us that the experience is enjoyable and interesting for both children and parents.

Are there any risks involved in participation?
No, there are no risks involved in participation. We will be reading to your child, showing them drawings, playing simple games, and/or asking them questions, much like they would experience at school. Children are encouraged throughout the process and can take a break or stop if they get tired. Most children have a lot of fun in our studies! Additionally, no names or identifying information will be used.

Will I learn anything about my child specifically?
Our studies are designed to look at changes across age groups, not the performance of individual children. Your child’s participation will help us better understand how children of that age group think about the world. That said, we are happy to tell you about the research your child participated in and answer any questions you might have. 

What will we do with the results?
Once we have finished working with a group of children, we will score each child’s responses to the questions and enter the data into a spreadsheet.  We use statistical analyses to examine patterns of responses across development and sometimes between individuals, but the specific findings are never linked to a specific child. The analyses allow us to gain insight into how children think about different things, such as how they determine what makes a fair judgment, or how they decide which of two experts will provide a more helpful answer.

After we have completed a study, we present what we have found at professional conferences (like for the Society for Research in Child Development) and in scientific journals. We also update our website periodically with a summary of our what we found, as well as with our past newsletters so that you can have access to the information about our findings. Finally, we share our findings more broadly to the public through news releases and public presentations. When appropriate, we will also work with educators to help design programs for children. In the long run, our findings will benefit parents, educators, and children.

What should I do if I am running late to my appointment or need to reschedule?
We completely understand that things sometimes come up. If you are running late or need to reschedule, please call our lab phone at 972-883-6075. We will work with you to find a better time for you to come in!

How can I stay updated on new research if I want my child to participate again?
Please feel free to follow us on Facebook or Twitter! Periodically, we will provide updates regarding our open studies as well as our findings.