Susan Graham’s research focuses on language and cognitive development during infancy and the preschool years. Her research falls into two areas:
1. How children form and use categories to reason about the world, and at what age they develop the ability to place things into categories such as dogs, cats or other objects. She specifically investigates how language helps in forming these categories. For example, if a child sees pictures of a penguin and an ostrich, does he or she then understand both are birds – and that those birds share certain characteristics such as laying eggs?
Working with children in the Language and Cognitive Development Lab, Graham and her team have demonstrated that children as young as 13 months of age use language to unite dissimilar things into categories and reason about the shared properties of those things. For example, when shown a robin and penguin without being told those are birds, babies by age 13 months will recognize they’re birds.
2. Graham’s other prime area of research is showing how children become effective communicators -- that is, she examines how children learn to adjust their language in different contexts and draw upon sources of information other than language to interpret meaning. For example, in one series of studies Graham and her students have examined whether children aged three or five can interpret vocal emotions correctly – and the differences in abilities to interpret vocal emotion between those age groups. In another line of research, they have examined children’s sensitivity to what others know and see. In a typical study, a child separated from a researcher can see two ducks – but the researcher can only see one of those ducks. When the researcher asks the child to pick up the duck, a child about age four will understand that the researcher can only see one duck so is referring to that particular duck.
|2003-2005:||Canada Research Chair Tier 2|
|2011-present:||Fellow of the Association of Psychological Sciences|
|2013 - 2015:||SSHRC Insights Development Grant -- Graham, S.A. (PI), S. Tough, S. MacDonald (Co-I), B. Collisson (collaborator). Exploring the early predictors of phonological awareness: A longitudinal approach.|
|2011-2015:||SSHRC Standard Research Grant -- Graham, S.A. (PI) and C. Chambers (Co-I). The development of communicative competence: Intentionality and reference.|
|2011-2016:||NSERC Discovery Grant, 2011-2016 – Graham, S.A. Reasoning about object categories and properties during early childhood.|
Alberta Centre for Child, Family, and Community Research Small Grant. Tough, S. Collisson, B., Graham, S.A. et al. Risk Factors for Early Language Delay.
|2012-2017:||SSHRC Insight Grant. Curtin, S. L. (PI) and Graham, S.A. (Co-I). How Forms Become Labels: Manipulating Early Preferences in Word Learning.|