Prevention of Children’s Conduct Problems and Promotion of School Readiness

“Dr. Shaw is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about his research. He allowed me to become very involved in the lab and taught me to value the importance of safe and ethical research.”


Supervising Faculty: Daniel Shaw, Ph.D.

Contact: Daniel Shaw, Ph.D., 412-624-1836,

Area of Research: Studies of developmental antecedents and prevention of young children's problem behaviors (e.g., conduct problems) and promotion of school readiness in early childhood.


Description of Research: 

These are two longitudinal investigations of child and family factors associated with the development and prevention of young children’s problem behaviors and school readiness from birth to age 5.  One study focuses on promoting school readiness among infants at risk for problem behavior. Families with newborn infants were recruited from the delivery room at Magee Hospital in Pittsburgh and Bellevue Hospital in NYC, and then randomly assigned to a control condition or a combined intervention using Video Interaction Project (VIP) and the Family Check-Up from 0 to 3 years. VIP takes place during previously scheduled well-child check-ups at pediatric offices and is aimed at improving parenting skills. Those families in the VIP treatment condition with parenting, family, or life-skills (e.g., literacy) risk at 6 months also receive the Family Check-Up. Students will be trained to conduct home- and lab-based assessments at child age 24 and 48 months (starting in the Spring) with senior staff in this project and attend home-based intervention sessions with staff interventionists. The second study is a population-level implementation that will recruit parents of newborn infants (5,000) and toddlers/preschoolers (3,000) for screening and offering of intervention options varied in intensity based on family strengths and challenges. Undergraduates will take part in home-based assessments of parent and child functioning at 6 month intervals from ages 0 to 2 years and annually for children ages 2 to 5.

Duties of Students:

Responsibilities will include conducting assessments of parents and their 6-month to 4.5 year-old children at families’ homes and the lab. In addition, students will learn about the theoretical bases of these two projects and other ongoing studies in the lab through an ongoing lecture series. Following a two-term commitment to the lab, students are eligible to become undergraduate employees following their directed research experience.


Additional Requirements: To qualify, students should have at least a 3.5 GPA in Psychology and meet other Departmental Guidelines for Directed Research.

Terms offered: fall, spring and summer

Number of Students: This varies by term, but generally 6-7 students are accepted into the program. 

Additional Information: For more information about Dr. Shaw's Directed Research opportunity, check out the following link: