Early Learning Center

Student observing a child at The Early Learning Center

Researchers and Clinical Placements

First and foremost, thank you for your interest in wanting to conduct your research at the Early Learning Center. We take great pride in the research conducted at our centers and for that reason each project application is reviewed extensively by the University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) and our own Administrative Team.

The ELC and the UD IRB have created a strong partnership in order to make your application process as straightforward as possible, but please don’t hesitate to contact us should you have any questions.

PRIOR to submitting your IRB application:

  • Complete the ELC Research Project Application Form and return to ud-elc@udel.edu for review.
    • This application serves as a way to justify access to the Early Learning Center and explain the context of the study including the impact on ELC children, families, and staff.  The ELC Administration understands that time is often of the essence prior to IRB submissions, and therefore assures a 72 hour turnaround for your application
  • Once you have received a signed approval from the ELC you will need to upload a copy to your IRB submission on IRBnet
  • At any point in time your application may be refused, returned for revisions, or we may request that you provide further clarification about the proposed activities

Once you have IRB approval for your research project:

  • You will need to send a copy of your IRB Approved Protocol to ud-elc@udel.edu along with the following items:
    • Copy of IRB Approval
    • Proposed start date for research at the ELC
    • Participant specifications (e.g., monolingual 4 year olds, infants who can crawl, etc)
    • List of research staff who will be conducting visits at the ELC, as well as the following documents for each research staff:
      • Names and e-mails of all researchers
        • Adult Health Appraisal(s)
        • Copy of Receipt from Criminal Background Check(s) (Finger Printing)
    • Updated anticipated start date
    • Signed ELC Clinical Placement and Research Guidelines
    • Copy of IRB stamped consent (if outside of ELC consent parameters)
    • Copy of questionnaires/surveys being administered (if applicable)

The quality of early care that children receive is a significant factor in later academic, behavioral and social success. Research shows that families and children in the community are better served by having well trained professionals who know about children’s development, effective ways to teach and interact with children of varying ages, how best to provide services and supports to their families. That’s why UD students from teacher education, nursing, physical therapy and many other programs at the University of Delaware come to the Early Learning Center for their hands-on clinical learning experiences. The ELC staff reviews all placements of UD students to ensure that services to families and children are not compromised.

Undergraduate students are never alone with children and must always be with a teacher. Undergraduate researchers must be accompanied by graduate students or faculty who have a completed and approved health appraisal and background check.

The ELC is a leader in early education research and works with various research fellows throughout the year from UD and other institutions. While we allow research to be conducted at our center, our first concern is that the research is not harmful or disruptive to the children and their day at school.

All research projects are reviewed by a Research Committee and The Institutional Review Board to determine scientific value and any ethical concerns. This process ensures that only projects that are low in ethical concerns and high in scientific value are approved.

Privacy of the children is also an important concern. Most projects do not refer to children by any name, but if needed, only first names or initials are used. This policy is also true for most media that reports on the Early Learning Center. Participation is not required in all of the research projects and parents are able to control the amount of information given to researchers or media about their child.

As a research institution, it is very likely you or your child will participate in a research project. If you do not wish to participate in any form of research, you might need to reconsider the ELC as your first-choice childcare.

Participation in Programs, Research and Training Activities at the Early Learning Center

In addition to providing quality services for children and families, the ELC supports the academic and research programs of the University as a site for student observation and practicum as well as faculty and graduate student research.  All children and families enrolled at the ELC participate in these research and training activities.

If you feel that you and/or your child cannot participate in these activities, it will be necessary for you to find another source of care for your child.

Research activities take place at the Early Learning Center so that we can better understand how children grow, learn, and interact, as well as how to better support children and families. These activities may include such things as measuring children’s development over time, observations of children’s interactions with toys, activities, and other children, and audio- and video-taping of children’s activities.  Research also may include asking families to complete questionnaires to provide supplemental information for the research projects.  Additionally, teachers and other staff may be asked about their views of children, the activities that take place at the ELC, and how effective they think services are for children and families.  All research that takes place at the Early Learning Center is reviewed and approved by both the Center’s Research Committee and the University of Delaware’s Institutional Review Board.

We take great pride in the research conducted at our centers and for that reason each project application is reviewed extensively by the center’s Research Committee and the University’s Institutional Review Board.