Janette B. Benson
Associate Professor, Developmental
My research is concerned with transitions in cognitive development in infancy and early childhood in the specific areas of object, space, and time knowledge. A major theme in this work is the early origins and foundations of later behaviors. I am currently working on four separate research projects. The first is an investigation of 18- to 36-month-old infants' ability to estimate the spatial location of hidden objects under various conditions, including the manipulation of available cues, self-movement, spatial scale, and the shape of bounded space. In this work, studies have been designed to test and integrate two theories of spatial coding -- Piaget's sensorimotor theory and the hierarchical spatial coding model, based on adult spatial behavior. This project examines transitions in spatial coding beyond the first year of life and seeks to identify transitions in early development that are related to later adult spatial behavior.
The second project examines the origins of the future-oriented processes that underlie such behaviors as planning, problem-solving, goal-orientation, and the formation of expectations. These behaviors are typically studied in older children and adults, yet our understanding of their origins is limited. In collaboration with faculty colleague, Dr. Marshall Haith, we have conducted interview and questionnaire studies of parental reports of everyday future-oriented behaviors of 12- to 48-month-olds. We have found systematic, age-related changes in the development of everyday future-oriented behaviors that may provide a foundation for later future-oriented behaviors. We are also interested in identifying factors that contribute to the early acquisition of future orientation, such as parental scaffolding through language. Currently, we are using the Child Language Data Exchange System (CHILDES) to analyze adult speech to young children for the purposes of identifying the extent to which adults speak to their young children about events in past, current, and future time.
A third project examines young children's ability to form temporal representations for past, present, and future time frames. Based on parental reports of future-oriented behaviors, a time line methodology was devised to study how children between 3.5- and 7.5-years represent the sequence of daily activities in past, present and future time periods (i.e., "yesterday", "today", and "tomorrow"). This research demonstrates that young children can clearly form temporal representations that distinguish among different time frames, but their accuracy in doing so develops later for future events than for those in the past. From these findings we have concluded that the temporal representation of events in the future is simply not a recasting of temporal representations of events experienced in the past.
Finally, I have just started to conduct research, in collaboration with the Children's Museum of Denver, to study the effects of museum experiences on young children's future learning. We are interested in how a child's experience of going to a museum, and the hands-on learning that occurs at the museum, affects informal, discovery learning. For example, experiences at a children's museum may impact a future interest in science. This work is new and has the potential to contribute to the evaluation and design of children's museum exhibits and school curriculum.
I am also a Fellow, Association for Psychological Science (2009), Student Life Faculty Advisor of the Year, University of Denver (2011) and Serial Editor, Advances in Child Development and Behavior
Benson, J.B. (Ed). (2011). Advances in Child Development and Behavior, vol. 40. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Lerner, R.M., Lerner, J.V., & Benson, J.B. (Eds). (2011). Advances in Child Development and Behavior, vol. 41, Positive Youth Development: Research and Applications for Promoting Thriving in Adolescence. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Benson, J.B. (2011). Advances in Child Development and Behavior, Vol. 40. NY: Academic Press.
Lerner, R.L., Lerner, J.., Benson, J.B. (2011). Positive Youth Development. Advances in Child Development and Behavior, Vol. 41. NY: Academic Press.
Benson., J.B, & Haith, M.M. (2009). Social and Emotional Development in Infancy and Early Childhood. NY: Academic Press.
Benson, J.B., & Haith, M.M. (2009). Language, Memory & Cognition in Infancy and Early Childhood. NY: Academic Press.
Benson, J.B., & Haith, M.M. (2009) Diseases and Disorders in Infancy and Early Childhood. NY: Academic Press.
Haith, M.M., and Benson, J.B. (2008). M.M. Haith & J.B. Benson (Co-Editors in Chief), Encyclopedia of Infant and Early Childhood Development (3 vol.). NY: Elsevier Publishers.
Raeff, C., & Benson, J.B. (2003), Social and cognitive development in the context of individual, social, and cultural processes. London: Routledge
Benson, J.B., Talmi, A., & Haith, M.M. (2003). The development of future orientation: The social and cultural context of everyday routines and rituals. In C. Raeff and J. B. Benson (Eds.), Social and cognitive development in the context of individual, social, and cultural processes. London: Routledge
Benson, J.B. (2002). "Teaching with technology: Generation E" The National Teaching and Learning Forum, 11(2). Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc. (Invited article).
Nummedal, S.G., Benson, J.B., & Chew, S.L. (2002). "Disciplinary styles in the scholarship of teaching and learning: A view from psychology. In M.T. Huber & S. Morreale (Eds.) Disciplinary styles in the scholarship of teaching and learning: A conversation. Washington, DC: American Association for Higher Education.
Benson, J.B., & Kelly, L., M. (2002). "Activity level." In Neil J. Salkind (Editor in Chief), Child Development: Volume One of the Macmillan Psychology Reference Series. New York: Macmillian Reference USA.
Wentworth, N., Benson, J.B., & Haith, M.M. (2000). The development of infants' reaches for stationary and moving targets. Child Development, 71, 576-601
Haith, M. M., & Benson, J. B. (1998). Infant Cognition. In R. Siegler & D. Kuhn (Vol. Eds). Cognition, Perception, & Language in W. Damon (Series Ed.), Handbook of Child Psychology (fifth edition). NY: Wiley.
Benson, J. B. (1997). The development of planning: Its About Time. In S. Friedman and E. Skolnick (Eds.), The developmental psychology of planning. Erlbaum.
Haith, M. M., Benson, J. B., Roberts, R. R., & Pennington, B., (Eds.), (1994). The development of future-oriented processes. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Benson, J. B. (1994). "The origins of future orientation in the everyday lives of infants and toddlers." In M. M. Haith, J. B. Benson, R. R. Roberts, & B. Pennington, (Eds). The development of future-oriented Processes. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Benson, J. B. (1993). Season of birth and onset of locomotion: Theoretical and methodological implications. Infant Behavior and Development, 16, 69-81.
Benson, J. B., Cherny, S. S., Haith, M. M., & Fulker, D. W. (1993). Rapid Assessment of Infant Predictors of adult IQ: Midparent/Midtwin Analyses. Developmental Psychology, 29, 434-447.
Janette B. Benson
Ph.D. 1983, Clark University
Associate Professor, Developmental
office: Frontier Hall, Rm. 252
Director, Office of Academic Assessment
office: Marry Reed Building, Rm 305