“ECEP has a stimulating and safe environment that provides our child with a lot of hands-on activities and an educational philosophy founded upon inquiry.”

– ECEP Parent

A Classroom of Inquiry

While the children learn through play, we learn from them. The Center has been able to leverage what the University of California, Berkeley does best as a community of scholars. The heart of our model is applied research.

Researchers use the classrooms as a living laboratory, where they can gain insights into the way children learn and grow best. In turn, the teachers at the centers are able to implement these innovative, best practices into the daily lives of the children.

Applied Research

Since the first center opened in 1928, innovative teaching and learning approaches have been developed, implemented, and evaluated in collaboration with teachers. Our research studies have influenced how our teachers design spaces and activities to enable each child to learn.

We believe all aspects of child development are integrated, and we’ve even adapted our physical environment to maximize healthy physical development, learning, and personal growth. For example, based on a study of play yards at the center, we’ve brought in play structures that increase options for active play and interaction between children. Our large fresh air spaces are integral to the physical environment at all our centers. 

A Model for Early Childhood Education

Our research studies enable us to serve as a model for early childhood education. As early as 1932, our researchers have been publishing in peer review journals and writing dissertations and books spanning many academic disciplines. Some of the highlights of this research is featured in “Creating a Classroom of Inquiry at the University of California at Berkeley.”

Your Children and Research

At the end of the school year, parents and teachers are invited to learn about the research that has been conducted throughout the past year. Participation in research may take place at all centers, and is most prevalent at the Haste Street Child Development Center and the Harold E. Jones Child Study Center.

You will be notified ahead of time when there will be a research study or survey in your child’s classroom, and you will have the opportunity to choose whether to participate.  In addition, informal observations of classrooms by Early Childhood, Psychology, Sociology or Education students, or other University representatives may occur at any time without parent notification.

The Research Process

Qualified teacher assistants accompany the researcher and the child while they are involved in a research activity. Children may be observed by researchers from within the observation galleries, or may be engaged in a "game" or specific task in a quiet research room. There are strict rules to ensure that a child’s participation in research does not interrupt classroom opportunities. For example a session cannot last more than 20 minutes, a child cannot participate for more than three sessions per week, and the child can refuse participation – though most enjoy it and ask to participate or "play games.”

Research is administered by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Human Development (IHD). All research must be approved by the UCB Committee for Protection of Human Subjects, and reviewed by our own research coordinator. 

Preschoolers outsmart college students at figuring out gizmos
BERKELEY — Preschoolers can be smarter than college students at figuring out how unusual toys and gadgets work because they’re more flexible and less biased than adults in their ideas about cause and effect, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Edinburgh. 
UC Berkeley Professor Alison Gopnik's "The Genius of Babies" on TedTalk 
Discover surprising research about babies' intelligence and find out why we adults might want to take a page from their book. 
Study: Helping kids leads to improved earnings later
BERKELEY — In the May 30, 2014, edition of the journal Science, researchers find that early childhood development programs are particularly important for disadvantaged children in Jamaica and can greatly impact an individual’s ability to earn more money as an adult.