Student-Faculty Psychology Research Happening in LVC Baby Lab

A father plays with his child in the Baby Lab at Lebanon Valley College

Psychology students at Lebanon Valley College go beyond studying Freud and reading textbooks and get actively involved in learning.

Student-faculty research, for example, is conducted under Dr. Rachel Albert, assistant professor of psychology. She and her student research assistants study how caregivers respond to their child’s vocal cues, or baby babble.

“The goal of the baby lab research is to understand how infants learn language,” Dr. Albert said. “Parents tend to respond differently to their baby’s different vocal cues, and we’re interested in why and how those responses impact infant learning.”

The baby lab is located in the LVC Psychology Department, giving Dr. Albert and her students the chance to observe parent-child interactions and to collect data using a series of cameras and audio recording devices. 

For LVC students, participating in research with their faculty is quite common. Valley professors push students to apply classroom knowledge in the advancement of their chosen field.

Josh Rinehimer ’18 started conducting research with Dr. Albert in May. He learned about this opportunity from one of Dr. Albert’s research assistants, Austin Martinez ’18. Together, Martinez and Rinehimer spent the summer developing a study investigating fathers’ responses to their infants. They recruit fathers and their 9-month-old infants to come to the lab to play and be observed. The study requires a lot of help from the local community, and even LVC alumni are getting involved.  

“A lot of things drew me to the research,” Rinehimer said. “I have always been fascinated by adolescent development and the fact Dr. Albert is really dedicated to the study made me want to get involved.”

Martinez and Rhinehimer’s dedication to the study will hopefully pay off next summer. They are preparing to submit the work to present at the International Congress of Infant Studies biennial conference. If the research is accepted, they will present the findings to an international audience in Philadelphia next July. 

Sara Koros ’18 also works in Dr. Albert’s baby lab, and greatly appreciates the research opportunities available in the department.

“My experience so far has been great and very informative,” Koros said. “I have always wanted to do research in psychology, and Dr. Albert’s study sounded really interesting, so I decided to take the opportunity.”

Altogether, Dr. Albert is collaborating with four students on the infant communication research. She and other professors at The Valley encourage students to undertake hands-on learning experiences and stay current in their fields of study. The students have also found research as a great learning opportunity.

“Participating in faculty research has so many benefits,” Rinehimer said. “I have already gotten so much out of this experience and will continue to learn.”  

To learn more about Dr. Albert’s research in the Psychology Department and the students involved, visit lvcbabylab.weebly.com.

 

 

-Maria Scacchitti ’18, Communications Intern