Promoting Children's Learning and Developmental Outcomes in Conflict-Affected Countries: Communicating and Incorporating Evidence for Impact

Principal Organizer: J. Lawrence Aber

As a low-resource, conflict-affected country, primary students in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) face an urgent need for quality education in order to mitigate the most severe consequences of conflict.  Despite confidence in the power of supportive spaces to promote academic and social-emotional development, there is a lack of evidence of what works to promote this in contexts of conflict. We propose holding a “Reflection Workshop” using the “Healing Classrooms” initiative, a large, cluster-randomized, school-based intervention program implemented by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in the DRC.  The Workshop will involve approximately 40 participants, including members of the DRC Ministry of Education, in-country leaders from other NGOs, IRC Technical Assistance staff engaged in DRC programming, and local implementation partners. The workshop will focus on: 1) how lessons from the impact analysis align with government priorities; 2) what impact lessons suggest for future government education and child development policies; and 3) discuss possibilities for embedding a Healing Classrooms approach into existing education structures.  Because IRC currently implements Healing Classrooms in 12 countries, communicating the impacts has the potential to unite a multi-disciplinary field and incorporate international experiences in improving education and child development.

Promoting Data Management, Sharing, and Re-use in Developmental Science

Principal Organizer: Karen E. Adolph

Databrary ( is a web-based data library and data management system built by and for developmental scientists that enables researchers to manage, store, explore, share, and reuse video data and related metadata. Most developmental scientists rely on video as the backbone of their research programs, but few share openly. This limits transparency and impedes discovery. The Databrary project is building a community of developmental researchers committed to open video data sharing so as to promote transparency and speed progress. Databrary will hold three one-day regional workshops on video data sharing and reuse, approximately in June 2015 in Chicago, November 2015 in Atlanta, and February 2016 in San Francisco. The goal of these workshops is to educate researchers about issues in video data sharing (informed consent and privacy, appropriate attribution, and active curation) and to train them in best practices in video data management and reuse. In addition, Databrary will hold a series of preconference workshops at major developmental society meetings at SRCD in March 2015 in Philadelphia, CDS in October 2015 in Columbus, and ICIS in May 2016 in New Orleans. 

Developing a Research Agenda on Digital Game/App Play as a Context for Cognitive Development

Principal Organizers: Fran C. Blumberg & Kirby Deater-Deckard

The prevalence of digital game and app play among children and adolescents presents a unique context in which to explore their cognitive development (see Blumberg & Fisch, 2013). However, with few notable exceptions such as Greenfield and Cocking’s 1994 edited volume of the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, the cognitive ramifications of digital game play has not been a major thrust among developmental psychologists. However, this situation may change as developmental psychologists initiate investigations of digital game/app play as a context in which to study cognitive development, and in which to assess it. This project is designed to actively promote examination of digital game/app play as a context for cognitive development and its assessment via the specification of a research agenda. This agenda will be facilitated by convening an international group of developmental psychologists and researchers in fields such as cognitive science, communications, educational technology, and game design whose work addresses children and adolescents’ cognitive skill use during game/app play. We plan to meet for three one-day meetings, two of which will be held virtually and one face-to-face prior to the 2017 SRCD Biennial Meeting.  We see the project as contributing to SRCD’s strategic goals to explore cognitive development through multiple disciplinary and theoretical lenses among an international and national group of researchers. An edited text and specification of external grant project ideas will emerge from the project.

Explaining Positive Adaptation of Immigrant Youth across Cultures

Principal Organizers: Radosveta Dimitrova & Frosso Motti

Immigrant families represent one of the fastest growing segments of several host nations across the globe, currently making up nearly 232 million people, a figure projected to grow due to high birth rates. Immigrant youth are particularly vulnerable to challenges related to discrimination, social exclusion, poor well-being and adjustment (Garcia Coll & Marks, 2012). These challenges have led to increased attention to the psychological welfare of immigrants in developmental, educational, mental health, and political fields as well as efforts to promote their well-being. To date, the bulk of the research on immigrant youth has primarily focused on mental ill-health or on the lack of academic success primarily from a deficit-centered perspective. Nevertheless, there are notable efforts to document positive adaptation. For example, the so called “immigrant paradox” is a population-level phenomenon in the US wherein foreign-born (or less acculturated) immigrant youth have more optimal developmental outcomes than US-born youth. The aim of this initiative is to generate new insight on explanatory mechanisms on what is presently known about positive youth development (PYD) and positive adaptation of immigrant youth from a global perspective. We adopt a strength-based conception of adolescence that sees all youth as having resources. We also address a recent call to explain why and under which conditions positive adaptation occurs from the standpoint of both PYD and resilience perspectives (Marks, Ejesi & Garcia Coll, 2014). To achieve this goal, we plan an expert meeting involving top acculturation and PYD researchers in a global context gathering an international, multidisciplinary and multisectorial panel of experts to address the explanatory mechanisms in complexities of immigration contexts in a variety of countries. We anticipate a proposal for a special section to be submitted to a major developmental journal in 2016 and an invited symposium at the biennial meetings of the SRCD and EADP (European Association of Developmental Psychology).

This international meeting was held in Hydra, Greece on September 19th, 2015 and resulted in this Mission Statement: Positive Development of Immigrant Youth: Why Bother?

International Consortium on the Interaction between Social Context and Neural Development in Prosocial Behavior during Adolescence

Principal Organizers: Andrew J. Fuligni, Adriana Galván, Eveline Crone & Wouter van den Bos

Becoming a prosocial adult relies upon making key connections at the social, cultural, and neural levels during the critical years of adolescence. Yet there remains little research that has identified how neural development interacts with social experience to produce more positive developmental outcomes during this time of life. The principal organizers (Eveline A. Crone, Leiden University, The Netherlands; Andrew J. Fuligni and Adriana Galván, UCLA; Wouter van den Bos; Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany) will convene a two-day meeting of an international group of scholars with expertise in adolescence, neuroscience, prosocial behavior, and cultural and ethnic diversity in order to plan a special journal issue and develop collaborative projects in prosocial development.

ICDSS Consensus Conference

Principal Organizer: Anne Petersen

The International Consortium of Developmental Science Societies (ICDSS) was initiated in 2012 by SRCD with support from the Jacobs Foundation.  The founding vision was to promote global development science to optimize human potential and the mission to coordinate and extend the work of international development science organizations to foster global developmental science and enhance global practice and policy, statements now ratified by all nine initial societies.  A two-day consensus conference will be held in late 2015 to design collaborative research of the member (including a few additional societies) on up to three global priorities that require a developmental science perspective to be effective.  Possible candidates of such priorities include migration effects, human contributions to and effects of global climate change, and optimizing human development following traumatic experiences such as war or other trauma.  These studies would use appropriate methods such as consensus reviews or meta-analyses with current synthesis research standards and study teams will be drawn from member organizations.  We expect this collaborative research to be engaged with a spirit of experimentation including appropriate course corrections, all to achieve the vision of optimizing human potential globally.

Advancing Measurement of Fathering for Research on Child Development

Principal Organizers: Brenda L. Volling & Natasha Cabrera

Significant social, economic and demographic changes have taken place in the U.S. and globally over the last 40 years suggesting that traditional matricentric models of developmental influence are outdated and do not represent the experiences of most children. Children develop in a socially complex, ecological context where both parents exert influence over their growth and wellbeing. Yet, research on child development still places a primary focus on the exclusiveness of the mother-child dyad. Fathers are still, more often than not, the forgotten or silent contributors to child development. To date, measures of fathering are often derived from earlier assessments of mothering, even though fathers may or may not frequently engage in the same sorts of activities and stylistic interactions that often characterize mother-child relationships. We propose to convene a working group of national and international fatherhood scholars to discuss methods, paradigms and measures of father-child relationships in the field of child development. The deliberations of this group would result in a set of recommendations for best practices and future directions to close existing gaps in our knowledge of assessing the ways fathers influence children’s development. The current proposal is timely for the field in two ways: (1) there is now a sufficient base of studies from which to begin to examine conceptual and measurement issues; and (2) there is a growing cadre of junior scholars and graduate students interested in this area who represent the future of child development research and stand to benefit most from this meeting. The proposed project involves convening a Fathers Working Group for a 2-day meeting to accomplish the following objectives:

  • To convene an international, interdisciplinary group of fatherhood scholars to network, discuss research methods, deliberate on measures of father involvement, and encourage collaborations to further the assessment of father-child relationships and fathering behaviors.   
  • To identify the major challenges and barriers to conducting research and designing studies that include fathers and the paradigms used to assess fathering. 
  • To provide recommendations and best practices for advancing the measurement of fathering and children's development that will be disseminated through a special journal issue, as well as a social policy report.