Directed Research

CDV 498 - Directed Research

The Directed Research course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to integrate their knowledge of child development from different courses through their work as an undergraduate research assistant with a faculty mentor. Students will review the theoretical and empirical grounding for a research project, develop research skills, and gain insights into how we build knowledge in the field of child development. Students will learn research techniques, how to write a research report, and how to present their findings to different audiences. Students interested in Directed Research should contact faculty members directly regarding the availability of research assistantships. 

Who should take this course? This course is designed to be relevant for all child development majors. It would be especially useful to those who are planning to acquire a graduate degree and/or want to learn more about conducting research and develop research and communication skills.

*Students must meet with an instructor at least one semester ahead of the intended capstone enrollment semester. The student will send the instructor the Directed Research Enrollment Form with their information section completed. The student and the instructor will collaborate to prepare a summary of their shared research plan and submit the plan with the completed form to the department.

Prerequisites: upper division standing; 2.5 GPA, “B” or better in CDV 320, and instructor consent

  • For Directed Research (CDV 498), you must coordinate with an instructor one semester ahead of your intended capstone semester. Submit:
    • Capstone Enrollment Form
    • Directed Research Enrollment Form (pdf): click to download the form. Fill out and email the completed form to the instructor. They will need to prepare a summary of your shared research plan and email it with the completed form to the department at

Please contact the department if you need assistance using forms at 

Faculty Research Projects

The following are ongoing research projects in the Child Development Program. Not all research projects will be available each semester. Please contact faculty directly to find out which projects will be available during the semester you plan to enroll in your capstone course.

Dr. Kaitlyn Breiner

Cross-National Decision-Making

This is a longitudinal study examining the effects of decision-making and risk taking in youth from 10 different countries. It is supported by the NIH and led by Jennifer Lansford, Ph.D. at Duke University. My goal is to examine the underlying factors of decision-making and risk taking in adolescents internationally.

The Impact of Camp on Youth with Serious Illnesses

This study is in development. The goal will be to examine the long term social, physical, and emotional impact of attending camp on youth with serious illnesses.

Dr. Cornelia Brentano

Child Custody and Family Adjustment

This project connects psychological and legal dimensions to investigate individual and family adjustment processes during and after child custody litigation. Currently, the research is focused on understanding the impact of procedural justice and distributive justice on families in child-custody litigation. This means whether and how fair court procedures matter to families in terms of their psychological adjustment, their health, their compliance with court orders, and their re-litigation rates. Because justice has been found to be important to people's motivation when dealing with others, the social psychology of procedural justice - the fairness of rules and processes – is used as a conceptual framework. The ultimate objective of this work is to contribute to an improvement of the policies and practices that govern the design and delivery of court services to families. This research has been funded by the National Science Foundation.

Project on Cross-cultural patterns in marriage and divorce trends

The objective of this cross-cultural research is to advance current understanding of how important social variables (e.g., economic conditions, religion, political stability and freedom, literacy rates, gender equality) influence prevailing patterns in the marriage and divorce trends of 70+ nations. Over the past century, the probability of divorce or separation among married or cohabiting couples has increased. Concurrently, marriage rates have decreased or marriage has been delayed to older ages in many countries. However, such changes are more pronounced in some countries than others. The present study offers a systematic presentation of the variables that influence the differences in trends among countries. For more information please see my Faculty website.

Dr. Anupama Joshi

Family-Peer Linkages in Conflict Resolution

The way children resolve conflicts with their peers is closely related to their adjustment in the peer group. The larger goal of the project is to examine family-peer linkages in children’s conflict resolution strategies. The core question addressed is what are the connections, if any, between how conflict is resolved between children and their parents, and children and their friends?  A specific focus of this project is on examining class differences, if any, in children’s conflict resolution strategies with their friends.

Children's Self and their Conflict Resolution Strategies

This project investigates the link between children’s self-concept, social self-efficacy, emotion regulation and conflict resolution strategies. In other words, do children’s conceptions of themselves, whether children think they can successfully interact with their peers, and whether children can effectively regulate their emotions are all related to how they act in conflict situations?

Dr. Kara Kogachi

Ethnic Composition of Adolescent Friendships: Effects on Prejudice Reduction, Collective Action, and Support for Social Change 

This project will examine the longitudinal effects of same- and cross-ethnic friendships, as well as the ethnic diversity of friendship groups on reducing prejudice, promoting collective action (e.g., volunteering to reduce prejudice), and support for social change (e.g., views on affirmative action) during middle and high school. Data will be drawn from the UCLA Diversity Project, an ongoing longitudinal study led by Sandra Graham, Ph.D., and Jaana Juvonen, Ph.D., and funded by NIH and NSF.  

Experiences of Racial/Ethnic Discrimination and the Development of Critical Consciousness Among Adolescents and Young Adults 

This project will examine the experiences of racial/ethnic discrimination and how it impacts the development of critical consciousness among diverse adolescents and young adults. Racial/ethnic variation as well as developmental differences will be explored. 

Dr. Megumi Kuwabara

The Origin and Nature of Cultural/Ethnical Differences in Young Children’s Cognitive Development

This project examines potential cultural and ethnical differences in cognitive development (e.g. attention, perception) in young children (preschoolers). This project compares Japanese and U.S. preschool aged children. The goal is to identify how early in what task(s) we could see cultural and ethnical differences in cognitive development and what the implication of these differences might be to other developments.

The Potential Transmission Vectors of Cultural Differences in Cognitive Development

This project examines how cultural differences in cognitive development may be passed down to younger generations. This project compares visual environment (e.g. books), social interactions (e.g. parent-child communication), language, and other potential vectors that might influence cognitive development.

Dr. Angelica Lopez-Fraire

Cultural Differences in Children’s Collaboration

This study is currently being coded to examine potential cultural differences in how children collaborate in a school-like task, and would extent previous work by including an instructional situation where there is no suggestion to collaborate. These findings will also be examined in connection to children’s helpfulness toward an instructor during the same activity.

Dr. Kimberley Radmacher

Identity Formation in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood

This project examines emerging adults’ ideas of social class and the processes through which they come to perceive social class as an aspect of their own identity. The focus is on identifying the experiences that trigger emerging adults’ awareness of their social class status and whether and how they explore and come to a resolution about the meaning that their class status has for their own sense of self.

Close Relationships in the Transition to College

This project examines the role that close relationships (e.g., family and friends) play in emerging adults’ development during the transition to college. A focus is placed on the associations between the quality of these relationships and the emerging adults’ developing sense of self and mental health. Gender, ethnic, and social class variations in these relationships will be examined.