The Language and Learning Lab at the University of Toronto is a child development lab interested in how children acquire language, how they use it to communicate with others and how they learn and think about the world.
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We ask questions related to four streams of research.
Counterfactual thinking – the ability to consider alternatives to past events and make inferences about what might have happened – plays an important role in human learning and decision-making. In this line of work, we study the emergence of counterfactual reasoning in early childhood and how it contributes to learning.
The main goal of this research is to describe how symbolic representations are acquired and integrated during early childhood and to determine what factors facilitate their use in knowledge acquisition, thus potentially enhancing the efficiency of educational techniques. We investigate whether fiction provides a framework for learning about the world and whether new technology (digital media) can be used optimally to enhance learning in early childhood.
Language is a unique human capacity that enables us to learn, think and communicate about entities and events in the world. Our work seeks to understand how children acquire words in their native language, how they use language to learn about entities they are not experiencing directly, and how they use linguistic and contextual information to understand what speakers mean in conversation.
How do children develop theories about scientific phenomena and how can we best scaffold this learning? This stream of research examines children’s misconceptions and the acquisition of scientific knowledge. Our works seeks to find out the best ways to promote children’s science knowledge in the early years.