Dr. Homer is an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology in the Learning, Development and Instruction subprogram. He is the director of the Child Interactive Learning and Development (CHILD) Lab at the Graduate Center. He is also training director for the Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Research Training program at the Graduate Center (IPoRT). His research examines how children acquire and use "cultural tools" to store and transmit knowledge (e.g., language, literacy, and information technologies), and how these tools transform developmental and learning processes. Of particular interest is how development and learning affect the ways in which mental representations are formed. Dr. Homer has a number of currently active lines of research that are briefly outlined below.
Current Research Projects
As part of the Molecules and Minds project, with Catherine Milne, Jan Plass and Trace Jordan, Dr. Homer has been researching the use of computer-based multimedia environments for learning. His work in this area investigates how cognitive abilities and prior knowledge affect students' interactions with and learning from multimedia environments. As part of this project, Dr. Homer and his colleagues have developed and tested computer-based simulations for teaching chemistry to a variety of learners, but particularly low-income, urban students with low prior knowledge in science and technology. An approach that has proven effective is the integration of iconic representation of key information into the simulations. The Molecules and Minds team was awarded a new three-year grant from the Institute of Educational Sciences to continue this research.
A second area of research is on the development and use of videogames for learning. In this new line of work, Dr. Homer and his collaborators have been investigating how different design patterns in games affect student learning and motivation. They have also been researching ways of embedding assessment into educational games to provide to students and educators. This work is primarily conducted as part of the Games for Learning Institute, an interdisciplinary, cross-university research institute funded by Microsoft Research.
A third area of research investigates the role of spoken and written language on children's cognitive development. Recently, Dr. Homer and his students have been investigating the role of language in young children's development of symbolic understanding. Other related research includes studies on the relation between literacy and children's understanding of language, and research on cultural and biological influences on children and adults' theory of mind.