Psychology and Child Development

College of Liberal Arts

Jennifer Jipson

Jennifer Jipson


Pronouns: she, her, hers

Contact Information


  • Ph.D., M.S., Developmental Psychology, University of California at Santa Cruz
  • B.A., Psychology, B.A. Government, Smith College, Northampton, MA

Courses Taught

  • CD 230 Preschool Laboratory
  • CD 304 Infant and Toddler Development
  • CD 329 Research Methods
  • CD 350 Development Issues in Education
  • CD 351 Learning in Out-of-School Time
  • CD 411/413 Children, Adolescents, and Technology

Research Interests

Children at the preschool age are naturally motivated to understand the world around them. For example, they often seek information about complex phenomena, such as how machines work, where babies come from, and why the moon seems to change shape. In my research program, I explore young children’s developing understandings within the domains of science, health, and technology.

In addition to examining what children of different ages know about specific topics, I investigate how everyday interactions in informal settings (e.g., museums, zoos, virtual environments, preschools, parent-child conversations) contribute to children’s learning. Finally, I am interested in exploring the extent to which these early experiences impact later engagement with, and proficiency in, scientific, technological and health-related activities.

Recent Achievements

  • Food Is Fundamental: The Profound Ethical and Social Impacts of Robot Kitchens. NSF National Robotics Initiative ($715,309). PI: Patrick Lin; Senior Researchers: A. Foxen, R. Jenkins, J. Jipson, S. Niku, 2022-2026.

  • My Sky Tonight: Early Childhood Pathways to Astronomy. NSF-Advancing Informal STEM Education Award, $2,499,917  Co-PIs: Jim Manning (Astronomical Society of the Pacific), Dr. Maureen Callanan (UCSC), Dr. Julia Plummer (Penn State), 2012-2017
  • Richard K. Simon Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching, College of Liberal Arts, Cal Poly, 2012-13

Selected Publications/Professional Activities

  • Castaneda,C.L.,Callanan,M.A.,Shirefley,T.A.,&Jipson,J.L.(2022).Early strengths in science: Young children’s conversations about nature in Latine families. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 83, 101453.

  • Labotka,D.,Gelman,S.A.,& Jipson,J.L.(2021).Parent-child conversations about animals on a visit to a (virtual) zoo. Cognitive Development, 60, 101-123

  • Callanan, M., Solis, G., Castañeda, C., & Jipson, J.L. (2020). Children’s question-asking across cultural communities. In L. P. Butler, S. Ronfard, & K. Corriveau (Eds.), The Questioning Child: Insights from Psychology and Education. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press

  • Callanan, M.A., Shirefley, T.A., Castaneda, C.L., Jipson, J.L. (2019). Young children’s ideas about astronomy. Journal of Astronomy and Earth Sciences Education, 6, 45-58.

  • Jipson, J.L., Gulgoz, S., Gelman, S.A. (2016). Parent-child conversations regarding the ontological status of a robotic dog. Cognitive Development, 39, 21-35.

  • Sobel, D. & Jipson, J.L. (2016). Relating Research and Practice: Cognitive Development in Museum Settings.  New York NY:  Psychology Press.

Consulting Roles

  • The Goddard Schools, Educational Advisory Board Member
  • Nickelodeon, Jr., Content and Curriculum Advisory Board Member
  • San Luis Obispo Children's Museum, Exhibits and Programs Educational Consultant
  • Fisher Price, Project-Based consulting
  • Inherquests, Curriculum consultant
  • Wee Gallery, Infant and toddler development consultant


Related Content