Child playing clapping game with teacher

Research at the Lab School

Research is a primary purpose of our school. University of Minnesota faculty and graduate students conduct research at the Lab School during the school year.


Observation booths are adjacent to each classroom. Graduate students and faculty use booths to conduct naturalistic observations. Undergraduates studying child psychology or early childhood also may use the booths. Parents are welcome to observe at any time classes are in session.


At the beginning of the school year, we ask parents to sign a permission slip allowing their child to participate in the research program. For certain research projects, parents are asked to sign an additional permission slip.

Parents may opt out of specific projects if they choose to do so. However, it’s expected that all parents of enrolled children will consider each project and that all children will be participants in studies involving observation.

The procedure for involving children from the school is as follows:

  1. Faculty members/graduate students write a summary of the proposed research.
  2. The University Committee on the Use of Human Subjects and the Lab School director approve the proposal.
  3. Lab School teachers review the proposal.
  4. The researcher spends several class periods getting to know the children in the group.
  5. After the children are familiar with the researcher, they may be invited to a research room located in the Lab School or remain in the classroom to participate in a project.

Projects may consist of playing a game, answering questions, or completing a task. Researchers typically observe group performance. For example, they may be researching how three-year-olds follow directions. Children always have the right to say “no” to participating.

Communicating with families about research

Before studies begin, we send a summary of the project home in children’s folders. Most children will participate in a research project by the end of the year.

In each classroom, we post a list of how often each child participates in studies. We also post all current studies on the Parent Bulletin Board in the school’s main hallway.

All individuals in contact with the children complete a criminal background check through the Minnesota Department of Human Services and a confidentiality statement.

Parents with questions or concerns may contact their child’s teacher, the Lab School director, or the faculty member conducting the project.

Conduct research at the Lab School

Interested in conducting research or observing at the Lab School?

Learn more