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Roberta Golinkoff


University of Delaware

Research Themes: 

The Communicating Mind and Body

Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D., is the Unidel H. Rodney Sharp Professor of Education, Psychological and Brain Science, and Linguistics and Cognitive Science at the University of Delaware and director of the Child’s Play, Learning, and Development Laboratory.

Dr. Golinkoff studies the processes involved in language learning and the course of language acquisition. She and her colleagues developed the Intermodal Preferential Looking Paradigm (IPLP) to allow children to demonstrate their language knowledge by looking at scenes that matched the linguistic stimuli being played. This method of studying language development in young children and infants is now used in laboratories around the world. Dr. Golinkoff has also explored how infants identify the components of events, segment the speech stream, and acquire new vocabulary, specifically verbs, as well as the effects of technology on language learning.

Recently, with funding from the Institute of Education Sciences (with Jill de Villiers, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Aquiles Iglesias and Mary Wilson), Dr. Golinkoff developed a language screener for children between the ages of 3 and 6 years. Called the Quick Interactive Language Screener™ or QUILS™, it was brought out by Brookes Publishing for English-reared and Spanish-English reared children. As the screener uses comprehension in lieu of production, its results inform our understanding of acquisition in new ways and help to identify children with language issues. Dr. Golinkoff and her colleagues are currently developing a follow-up to this screener to be used with children as young as 2 years of age, as the earlier language delays are identified the more likely they can be improved.

Dr. Golinkoff has received many awards including the Urie Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contribution to Developmental Psychology and Society for Research in Child Development’s Distinguished Contributions to Research Award.

Research interests:

My lab studies the way infants perceive nonlinguistic events that will be expressed in language to understand how language heightens or dampens infants’ attention to event components.

We are currently developing a downward extension of our QUILS: Quick Interactive Language Screener (Brookes Publishing) for 2-year-olds. Our goal is to help schools identify children with possible language issues as early as possible.

We are studying how children learn vocabulary and about stories from the use of electronic media. With the advent of the iPad in 2010, children have a new way to experience storybook reading and we are interested in understanding this process.

How do children learn prepositions and verbs? The “hard” words do not come early in language acquisition though they are essential for the expression of events and relations.  

In concert with the Maternity Care Coalition in Philadelphia, we are interested in helping low income families learn about why talk with children is important and how it affects children’s social and academic outcomes.