Children’s Memory Research Group
For Parents and Educators
As you’ve seen from reading through our website, a major focus of our research is on memory for events. In these studies, we often have children and adult individuals as participants. Below we have included some information that discusses how we usually recruit participants and what it’s like to participate in our studies.
When we do studies involving children, we often work with different elementary schools in the lower Mainland. This way, we are able to work with the children while they are at school and, hopefully, integrate our research with their in-school learning experience. When we work with a school, there are several important steps that we must follow.
First, our research proposal is fully described and submitted to the Simon Fraser University Office of Research Ethics. At this office, our proposal is carefully reviewed to ensure that all practices of ethics in research are followed.
Second, we request permission from a School Board to allow us to contact elementary schools within its school district. Before granting permission, the School Boards will ask us to provide them with information about the proposed study and demonstrate that our research has been approved by the Simon Fraser University Office of Research Ethics.
Most of our studies involve learning more about children’s memory for events. Thus, we provide children with a specific “event” and then we interview them about the “event”. These events may include such things as reading a story, making a fun craft, watching a magic trick, or doing easy science experiments. These activities are often done with the entire classroom or in smaller groups of children from the classroom.  These activities often take between 15 – 30 minutes.
Between about one day and about one week after the events, we interview the children about what they did during their respective activities. Interviews take place on a one-on-one basis and are completed by senior Psychology students at SFU. Interviews usually take about 15 – 20 minutes per child. If a child gets tired during the interview or decides that he or she would not like to participate anymore, the interview will immediately be stopped.
In our studies, we try to make all the activities and interviews as much fun for the children as possible. We greatly appreciate the time that the principals, teachers, and students give us and like to provide all participants with a small thank you gift to show our appreciation.
Once our study has been completed, we like to send the principals, teachers, and parent/guardians a thank you letter telling them more about the research and what we discovered. We only report group results. In no way will your child’s name or information be included in the letter or in any dissemination of the research.
In addition to the numerous benefits of this research for understanding children’s cognitive and social development mentioned above there are, of course, several important applications of this work to “real world” settings. For example, success in an educational setting often rests on a child’s ability to remember information. Understanding the conditions under which children are most likely to retain information, as well as how to improve retention, may be beneficial to educators when structuring their teaching plans. In addition, our work can be applied to the situation in which children provide evidence in legal proceedings.
If you would like any more information about our work within the elementary schools or if you would like to participate, please email
When we work with adults, we typically work with undergraduate students at Simon Fraser University. Students are able to sign up for research projects for credit through the Research Participation System or for monetary compensation by emailing Please see this link for information about the RPS system. Research with the undergraduate students typically takes place in lab, RCB 6211.
Once this permission is granted, we contact elementary schools in that district to seek permission to work with the children in a particular classroom(s). In our past studies, we have worked with children from pre-school and Kindergarten to Grade 8. When we contact an elementary school, we meet with the principal and teachers of the classrooms we would like to work to discuss the project. If permission is granted from the principals and teachers, we move to the next step.  
We send home permission forms with the children in that class. These permission forms give the Parent/Guardian information about the study, including some research on the subject matter, as well as a description of what their child will be asked to do during the session. Participation is completely voluntary and if Parents/Guardians decide not to allow their child to join us, their decision will not have any impact on the child’s status at school, camp, or in the community.
Finally, we always ask the children if they would like to participate before starting the study.
When undergraduate students sign up for a research study, they are asked to fill out an Informed Consent form which details the study they are about to participate in and asks for their permission to participate. Similar to our research with children, we often give them an “event” to experience, such as, reading a story or making a craft, and then interview them about that event the following day.
In addition to this research, we also conduct studies on perceived credibility and perceptions of legal cases. These studies involve watching videos of children’s reports of a past event or reading a vignette of a mock crime, and rating the credibility of the accused, the child, and the allegation.
If you would like any more information about our work with the undergraduate population at SFU or if you would like to participate, please email