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Roberta Golinkoff (right) and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek (left) are presented the James McKeen Cattell Award by Association for Psychological Science President Nancy Eisenberg.
Roberta Golinkoff, Unidel H. Rodney Sharp Chair in the School of Education, with joint appointments in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and the Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science in the College of Arts and Sciences, has been unlocking the secrets of young minds for over 40 years through research and play.
Golinkoff and her long-time collaborator Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek,
professor of psychology at Temple University, have dedicated their
careers to conducting groundbreaking research on language, literacy,
education and spatial development changes in the field of developmental
psychology in infants and young children.
In recognition of their work, Golinkoff and Hirsh-Pasek have been
presented the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award, the highest honor
conferred by the Association for Psychological Science (APS), for “a lifetime of outstanding contributions to applied psychological research.”
In the late 1980s, the duo introduced an innovative methodological
contribution, the Intermodal Preferential Looking Paradigm (IPLP).
Through the use of side-by-side visual stimuli on a television screen
and a single auditory stimulus, researchers were able to observe whether
pre-verbal infants could match what they heard with one of the events
they saw on the screen.
“Before IPLP we really couldn’t understand what it is kids knew about
language before they speak. Now, we can use their gaze patterns to see
if they can match the language with the one of the events,” said
From that, Golinkoff and Hirsh-Pasek moved on to show that
preschoolers learn best from play and playful learning. In 2010, they
conducted the Ultimate Block Party in New York City’s Central Park. Over
50,000 families participated in child-friendly activities illustrating
the value of play and playful learning. Subsequent Block Parties were
held in Baltimore and Toronto.
“For over 30 years, Roberta and I have used our science to help each
child reach his or her potential. The more we know, the more we can
fashion programs to help every child succeed,” said Hirsh-Pasek. “I
cannot put into words what an honor it is to work with a best friend who
shares your passion and your values.”
With the University since 1974, Golinkoff also is the director of the Child’s Play Learning and Development Lab,
formerly known as the Infant Language Project. The lab explores the
intricate aspects of the language-learning process, cognitive
development, and how children develop spatial concepts through play.
In addition to receiving the Cattell Award this year, Golinkoff also won the Distinguished Scientific Lecturer Award of the American Psychological Association.
In 2011, she was presented UD’s Francis Alison Award, the
University’s highest competitive faculty honor, and she has been the
recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and the Urie
She is a principal investigator on an Institute of Education Sciences
Postdoctoral Training Grant, co-chair with Hirsh-Pasek of the Frontiers
of Innovation Working Group on Playful Learning at Harvard University,
author of numerous books and publications, and is invited to speak at
conferences and institutes around the globe.
While dedicated to her own work, Golinkoff is also extremely
supportive of her students’ efforts, encouraging both undergraduates and
graduate students in their scholarly pursuits.
“Working with Prof. Golinkoff is really great,” said Maya Marzouk,
Child’s Play Lab coordinator. “Conducting research with kids is
challenging, because you don’t want to influence their answers and skew
the data. I feel as though I’m learning so much working here.”
Golinkoff and Hirsh-Pasek were presented the Cattell Award on May 21,
at the annual APS Convention held in New York. They delivered a joint
presentation, “Living in Pasteur’s Quadrant: Navigating the Uncharted
Waters Between Basic and Applied Research.”
“It is so nice to have one’s colleagues acknowledge your
contributions. There are so many other wonderful people in my field, it
is an honor to be recognized in this way,” said Golinkoff.
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