Robert Kalinowski’s Little Anteater Research Lab Blends Undergraduate Research Training and Social Engagement
Ph.D. in Education student Robert Kalinowski is National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow at the School of Education and current President of the Associated Doctoral Students in Education (ADSE) at UCI.
Robert founded and is the Lead Researcher of his “Little Anteater Research Lab” where members study the development and relations of spatial and math skills in early childhood.
The lab currently has about 20 undergraduate research assistants involved in various research activities, and is supported by a number of doctoral students in education as well. The faculty sponsor is Associate Professor Drew Bailey. Leslie Rosales (pictured below with Robert) is a current lab manager; Leslie is pursuing a triple major in Education Sciences, Psychology, and Anthropology.
The lab recently completed a randomized experiment in preschools testing the causal links between spatial vocabulary use and gesture and resulting growth in spatial vocabulary and spatial skill. As Robert explains, “This experiment involved administering individual cognitive assessments to over 80 children, both before and after the experimental treatment! The treatment itself included teaching all the children specially designed songs full of novel vocabulary and accompanying gestures.”
Currently, the lab has six undergraduates, supported by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), conducting studies related to spatial cognition and early childhood. Additionally, two students were supported by the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) during Summer 2017, for entering and managing large amounts of data collected by the lab.
Robert, who has been a Nickelodeon host and professional singer, also is working on creating original songs and videos for young children intended to teach spatial skills, among other things. He is pleased to report, “The Little Anteaters are supportive in this mission, and the lab benefits from the participation of a number of undergraduates from the Digital Filmmaking minor at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts.”
Besides researching cognitive development and producing videos, Little Anteater Research Lab members also enjoy birthday celebrations, lab outings at Mitsuwa Marketplace, and snacking on Hi-Chew candy - a perfect blend of skills acquisition and social engagement.
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