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Durham Greater Toronto Area

Psychology Major Pursues Passion with Childhood Development Research Project

Paige Pascoe’s undergrad research thesis explores the importance of play

Paige Pascoe didn’t always know she would aspire to a career in early childhood development. The fourth-year Trent Durham GTA student made the decision to major in Psychology after taking an introductory course on youth psychology.

“When I saw the variety of courses offered at Trent, and assignments that challenged students to apply critical-thinking and creativity to real-world situations, I instantly fell in love with psychology.” Ms. Pascoe explained. 

Collaboration with fellow students and faculty led Ms. Pascoe to discover a deeper passion for developmental psychology, particularly childhood development. Eager to fully immerse herself in the program, she volunteered for Dr. Nancie Im-Bolter’s Language and Cognition Lab in her second year.

“I’m fortunate that Dr. Im-Bolter has had numerous ongoing studies that I’ve been able to contribute to as a member of her research lab.” Ms. Pascoe said. “The many opportunities to become involved in research at Trent University has definitely influenced my academic career.”

Research with real-world application
Now in the final year of her program, Ms. Pascoe is taking the lead on her own research project through the highly-competitive Honours Thesis program. Working with Prof. Im-Bolter, the Psychology undergrad is examining whether children who play more during their preschool years develop better reading and math skills later on. Through her analysis of archival data based on qualitative observations of children in daycares across the GTA, Ms. Pascoe hopes to draw conclusions that could have real-life applications.

“It’s important to pursue this research because the impact it could have on parents and caregivers,” she said. “If playtime has an influential role in the development of children’s reading and math abilities, it would be a relatively easy solution for parents and educators to include more play in their existing interactions with children.”

As she completes her thesis and graduates in the spring, Ms. Pascoe hopes to pursue further childhood development studies in a Master’s program. When asked what advice she’d give to future students trying to figure out which direction to take their own education, she references the helpfulness of her professors:  

“Talk to the professors in the department you’re interested in. The faculty at Trent Durham are always eager to discuss their research and opportunities for students to become involved.  Through my conversations with professors, I was able to secure volunteer involvement and practicum courses, both of which have been invaluable in helping me decide what path to pursue.”

Posted on January 29, 2019