Training, Tech, and the Child Development Center (CDC)

Sharon Carnahan Headshot

By Sharon Carnahan

Be ready to relinquish the role of “expert” and become a guide and partner in learning.

As part of a Technology FITI Grant, in Fall 2015, Dr. Carnahan and student Georyana Santos videotaped many short vignettes of best practices in adult child interaction at our on-campus Child Development Center.

In Spring 2016, 12 Senior Seminar Students in Psychology completed the Teachable Moments at the CDC Online Resources Project. This website includes 43 videos of adult-child interaction that were taped in Fall 2015, each annotated with transcripts, key terms, teaching techniques, and research articles.

In a less “public” project, we completed an Olin Library Archive of CDC Historical Photos and Documents. In partnership with undergraduate Bonny Pruitt and librarian Rachel Walton, 25 years of CDC photo albums and documents were scanned, sorted by year, and made a permanent searchable part of the Rollins College archives. That’s a lot of staff and faculty history!

What inspired you to implement this project?

As our history of teaching at the tiny Rollins College Child Development & Student Research Center draws to a close with our move to a brand new 6000+ ft2 facility, Hume House, in January 2017, we wanted to document the style and culture of interactions that makes our laboratory school unique and special. We also wanted undergraduate students to play the major role in deciding what videos to keep, how to identify the research that supports best practice, and design a website that can be of use to future students.

What were the goals for this project?

  1. Students will fully understand what constitutes “high quality” in early rearing, focusing on the years from 0 to 6 and the preschool environment.
  2.  Students will be able to identify, describe and demonstrate key skills in adult-child interactions that support early learning.
  3.  Students will use the Teachable Moments video collections to design instructional modules about best practices in adult-child interactions.

Identify the tools used for this project.

  • FIT grant funds for videography & editing assistance (using iMovie)
  • Olin Library cameras, editing software
  • Extensive consultations from Amy Sugar and Scott Bokash
  • A semester of work from 12 senior students
  • MS Word, WordPress

What pedagogical techniques, strategies, and/or philosophies did you employ?

  • Key Informant Input: the great teachers at the CDC (Doyle, Mason, Sanchez, and Dr. Davidson) were the inspiration, models, and commentators through the entire project.
  • Active Learning: Students were working hard on all aspects of the project, from research to editing and presentations
  • Vygotskian Theory: Through guided participation, modeling, scaffolding and peer tutoring, all members of my classes received full support for each step of the project
  • Individualized Instruction: Some class members had high levels of expertise in certain areas, such as organizational skills, IT knowledge, video handling, or reviews of research literature. We assigned some tasks based on knowledge, and flowed assignments from week to week.

What were some of the lessons that you learned from implementing this project?

  1.  Never underestimate our undergraduates.
  2. Have a full backup team in place in IT and Instructional Design to take the terror out of trying new things in the middle of a semester.
  3.  Begin with the end in mind. I had a clear idea of the goals for the project, and that helped us to keep from getting off course.
  4.  Be ready to relinquish the faculty role of “expert.”
  5.  Plan to use class periods as actual work sessions, rather than always planning on a professor led instructional lecture.

How did this endeavor change your teaching in expected or unexpected ways?

This project caused me to redefine myself as a leader.

It takes a long time to achieve a dream, but if you have a clear vision and don’t give up, much is possible. I also learned again the value of teamwork, shared learning, and delegation.

It is not necessary for me personally to be expert at all things in order to complete a complex task; I just have to be willing to trust my students and colleagues at Rollins College.

Is there anything in addition that you would share with other faculty about this project?

Never underestimate our undergraduate learners! Be ready to relinquish the role of “expert” and become a guide and partner in learning.

Sharon Carnahan
Professor of Psychology |  Executive Director,  Hume House Child Development & Student Research Center

Sharon Carnahan, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology & Executive Director of the Rollins College Child Development & Student Research Center at Hume House, a multicultural lab school that is inclusive of children with disabilities. She is an applied developmental psychologist who specializes in early intervention and child assessment, and was named Engaged Scholar of the Year in 2015 by Florida Campus Compact. She also teaches Psychology of Religion and Psychology Across Cultures.