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Faculty Feature: Melissa Burch

Submitted by on December 3, 2012 – 8:39 amNo Comment

Melissa Burch, assistant professor of cognitive development, received her B.A. in psychology from Franklin and Marshall College. She earned her Ph.D. in child development with a minor in interpersonal relationships from the University of Minnesota.

Melissa’s research interests center on memory development, particularly memory for personal experiences. She has been exploring how parental verbal support may contribute to children’s ability to recall the past.

In addition, she is interested in how emotion may affect reports of past experiences and how parents and children talk about these events.

She is currently examining autobiographical memory from a cross-cultural perspective to study how different socialization experiences may relate to the detail included in memory reports.

Selected Courses:

Cognitive Development Fall 2012

In this course we will discuss the processes by which children come to acquire, recall, and use knowledge. This course will focus on development from infancy to middle childhood. By reading primary literature, we will examine the emergence and refinement of children’s ability to form concepts, recall the past, and extend knowledge to new situations. We will consider methodological challenges and approaches to studying children’s abilities, including naturalistic observations, and controlled laboratory studies. We will review literature on findings and theories of development in each area and discuss how changes in children’s representational abilities contribute to these abilities. Students will make class presentations based on research articles, write short papers in response to class topics, and develop a research proposal on a topic of interest discussed in the course.

The Emergence of Literacy Spring 2013

The majority of adults are able to read fluently. However, when children learn to read, the process is dependent on a number of skills and requires a great deal of adult guidance. In this course we will discuss the cultural importance of literacy across societies and throughout childhood. We will focus on the development of the complex skill of reading, including phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, and higher-order processes that contribute to decoding and text comprehension. Because instruction can play a determining factor in children’s acquisition of literacy skills, we will study early reading materials and examine strategies that are employed in the classroom to facilitate the acquisition of these skills. Evaluation will be based on class participation, a series of short papers, and a longer final project.

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