The Warwick Research with Kids Group (Wa.R.Ks Group) is a team of researchers who study children's language, communication, and social skills. The research group consists of three research labs: the Communication Development Lab, The Language Development Lab, and The Sense of Commitment Lab. These labs have pooled their resources together to create the Wa.R.Ks group. All of our members have obtained approval from the University’s Ethical Committee and all of our team members have cleared an enhanced DBS check.
Our studies are designed to be great fun and are often based on games played together with another child, a puppet, or an adult experimenter. We also study how parents speak to young babies and if this helps them to learn language. An appointment with us is usually 1 hour or less. Siblings or other family members are more than welcome to come along to a session. We have babysitting facilities available if needed and we provide free parking on central campus for the duration of a study.
Communication Development Lab
The Communication Development Lab is led by Professor Sotaro Kita. The lab's research focus is the development of communication. We study children from birth up to the age of 16 to explore how humans acquire the skill to communicate across their lifetime. Our primary focus is how children learn to produce language and gesture. We also study adults on occasion, either to use as a comparison point or to see how the communication development continues into adulthood.
In our typical studies, we present babies and toddlers with speech sounds, non-speech sounds, images and videos, and record their responses (which can include but is not limited to: looking, reaching, or pointing). We examine both what children perceive and what they produce. We hope that our research lays foundations for novel ways to diagnose and help children with language delay or communication difficulty in the future.
Language Development Lab
The Language Development lab is led by Dr Kate Messenger. This lab studies how and when children's first language – their mother tongue - develops. Specifically, we are interested in finding out how and when children learn to put words together to make sentences. By studying their ability to understand and say different types of sentences at different ages, we can learn more about the mysterious process of language development!
Most of our studies are carried out with toddlers and preschoolers (2–5 year olds), the age at which children start putting words together and rapidly build ever more complex and fascinating sentences. At the moment we do two types of study to look at this: looking-while-listening and sentence repetition. See the website to find out more about the lab members and about the studies they are running.
The Sense of Commitment Lab
The Sense of Commitment Lab is led by Dr John Michael. We investigate the conditions under which children (1.5 to 9 years of age) spontaneously provide help, share their rewards and feel committed to continue
collaborative activities with others.
Our studies help us to better understand how and when young children engage in
prosocial behaviors and how they develop their understanding of the commitments and obligations involved
in collaborative activities. See the following website to find out more about the lab members and the project.
How can you take part?
Warwick Research with Kids Group depends on the help of hundreds of parents in the local community who are willing to bring their children along to take part in fun studies on our University Campus. We also have an increasing number of fun online study activities available in which you and your child(ren) can take part from the comfort of your own home. If you have children, from new-born up to 16 years, and have 30-60 minutes to spare to take part in one of our (online) studies, then please sign up to our family database! Once you sign up, we will send you open invitations via email when age-appropriate studies for your child(ren) come up. You can then read the study description and decide whether to take part. We will then book you a study appointment when it suits you.
Follow us on Social Media
As a research group, we post weekly updates about child development research and new studies on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Please follow us on our social media pages if you would like to stay in touch with what we are doing, or if you want to receive updates about our latest findings.
Phone us with any queries: 078 2352 4617
Or drop us an email at warksgroup at warwick dot ac dot uk