Frequently Asked Questions

What can I expect during our visit?

When you arrive at the lab, you will be shown to our comfortable and friendly waiting room. After filling out some paperwork, one of our trained research assistants will accompany your child to one of our study rooms. You are welcome to accompany your child if you wish, or you may remain in the waiting room. Our studies are designed to be fun and engaging for your child. Most involve looking at pictures or objects, or playing on a laptop computer. None involved medical procedures of any kind. The research assistant will end the study at any point if your child does not wish to continue. All sessions are videotaped, but we take great care to ensure the confidentiality of your child’s video and information. At the end of the session, you may ask questions about the study. Your child will be given a small gift to thank them for their participation.

What time of day could we visit the lab?

We typically schedule appointments between 9:00 and 6:00 Monday through Friday. Weekend appointments may be possible, subject to availability. When scheduling, we are looking for your assistance in choosing a time when you think your child will be most alert.

How long will our visit be?

Most visits last between 30 minutes and an hour. The exact length of your visit will depend on the study and how many of your children are participating.

Do we have to come in more than once?

No, most of our studies involve only one visit.

Can I stay with my child the whole time?

For many of our studies, it is perfectly fine to be in the room with the children the entire time. However, sometimes we find that a parent’s presence can be a distraction or will influence a child’s performance. In these cases, you may stay just outside the room and observe your child through a window.

Can I bring my other children with me?

Absolutely! We work with a wide range of children, so it is possible that your other children will also be eligible to participate in a study while they are here. If not, they can play in our waiting room while their sibling completes the study. One of our research assistants can stay with them if you prefer to accompany your other child into the study room.

Will I find out the results of the study?

At the end of your visit, the researcher can explain to you the purpose and hypotheses of the study. We also create a newsletter each year with information about the results of the studies that have been completed. Because our research looks at group-level data, we will not be able to provide you with information about your individual child’s performance.

Where is the Child Learning and Development Lab located?

We are conveniently located on Amherst’s campus, in the New Science Center. There are reserved parking spaces off of East Drive. Upon your arrival, a research assistant will provide you with a parking pass and escort you to our lab.

I registered my child several months ago, but have not yet been called to participate. Why?

We recruit from ages 0 to 10 years of age so that we have a pool of interested families from which to draw. However, most of our studies involve particular age ranges – for example, 23- to 25-month-olds, or 5-year-olds. Your child may not fit into one of the age ranges that we are using at the moment. If you ever would like information about what ages are currently being used, feel free to call or email.

Will my child’s data be kept confidential?

Your child’s data will be kept confidential. Your child’s name will never be used in any report of this research. We videotape our studies to allow us to keep track of your child’s answers, and also to write down any comments made during the study. This videotape is kept completely confidential; your child’s name will never be associated with it. Furthermore, unless we have your explicit permission, this videotape will be viewed only be the researchers.

Who makes sure the studies are ethically appropriate?

All studies taking place at the Child Learning and Development Lab have been through a review process by Amherst College’s Institutional Review Board (, which consists of a panel of College and community members. This panel carefully evaluates proposed studies involving human participants before they begin to ensure that the research is ethical, and handles any comments or complaints about the research.

I have a concern about my child’s development. Can you help?

The Child Learning and Development Lab conducts basic research on child development, and we do not offer individual evaluations. If you have a particular concern about your child’s development, please contact your pediatrician.

Where can I find general information about child development?

Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families (

US Department of Education (site for parents) (

These links are provided for informational purposes only, and are not affiliated with the laboratory or Amherst College.