Although Commencement exercises for the Cornell Class of 2020 were canceled to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Department of Human Development honored the academic achievements of this year's outstanding students with its highest awards.
Although the Department of Human Development labs on the Cornell Campus have been closed due to social distancing, it has not stopped on-going research. Web-conferencing for many people has become the new normal for face-to-face meetings, but it has also become a tool for research. Professor Tamar Kushnir's Cornell Early Childhood Cognition Lab (ECC lab) studies how children learn through their experiences. Researchers in the lab design toys, games, and stories to understand how children learn. In one of many lab projects, Dr. Kushnir has been studying child-robot interactions, including prosocial behaviors. In June, Kocher, Kushnir, and Keith Evan Green presented a paper at the IDC '20: Proceedings of the Interaction Design and Children Conference and reported developmental differences in how children interacted with a robot that does not appear human-like (non-humanoid). Their results inform how robot and interaction designers can improve designs for specific age groups. Deanna Kocher, a graduate student in the Kushnir lab, explains in a Cornell Sun article how the lab has been using Zoom to study how children interact with virtual robots. An added benefit of the move to online research is the ability to collaborate with other institutions and extend the reach of their research to include an international sample. Click here for more information about ECC lab projects.