Research is another major purpose of the CDLS, and families who attend the school are expected to consider participating in various research projects throughout the year. Faculty and graduate students from the Institute of Child Development or other departments within the University conduct these research projects. 


Observation booths are located adjacent to some CDLS classrooms.  These booths are regularly used by graduate students and faculty conducting naturalistic observations, and by students enrolled in courses in developmental psychology or education, as well as parents and members of the community.

Although the booths are small, the staff would like to encourage parents to observe and give feedback to the classroom teachers.  Name and time of entry must be indicated on forms provided inside the observation booth. These forms are used to tabulate the profile of observers and to provide other pertinent statistics. Parents are welcome to observe at any time classes are in session.


At the beginning of the school year, parents are asked to sign a consent form allowing their child to participate in the research program. For certain research projects, as noted in the consent form, this general permission is not adequate. In that event, parents are requested to sign another form allowing their child to participate in a specific research project.  

Parents may opt out of specific projects if they choose to do so. While parents may request that their child not participate in a particular research project, it is expected that all parents of enrolled children will consider each project and that all children will be participants in studies involving observation.

Communicating with families about research

Typically 4-6 research studies are conducted in the CDLS in a year, but may not include all classrooms. It is expected that most children will participate in some sort of research project by the end of the year.  However, the welfare and comfort of any child is foremost. Most children do seem to enjoy these novel experiences.  

A list is kept of how often each child participates and it is posted in the classroom. Before studies are initiated, a summary (i.e., Request for Research Population) is sent home to all families in the participating classrooms. All studies are also posted on the Research Bulletin Board, which is located in the CDLS hall outside of the research rooms.  

Parents having questions, concerns or wishing to opt out of a specific study may contact their child’s teacher, the CDLS Director, or the faculty member conducting the project. Parents will also be informed each time their child participates in a (non-observational) research project by receiving a note at the end of the day.

Individuals (i.e., teachers, students, faculty and researchers) who provide direct contact services to children have had criminal background checks conducted by the Minnesota Department of Human Services and complete a Confidentiality Statement. An individual, such as a classroom volunteer, who has not undergone a background check will be supervised at all times and not left alone with children.

Conduct research at the CDLS

Are you a University of Minnesota faculty member or student interested in conducting research or observing at the CDLS? Follow our research procedures to get started.