Psychology and Child Development

College of Liberal Arts

Jennifer Jipson

Jennifer Jipson

Professor & Chair

Pronouns: she, her, hers

Contact Information


  • NICHD Postdoctoral Fellow, Developmental Psychology, University of Michigan
  • 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 350 Development Issues in Education
  • CD 351 Learning in Out-of-School Time
  • CD 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

  • 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

  • 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.
  • Jipson, J.L., Callanan, M.A., Schultz, G., & Hurst, A. (2014).  Scientists not sponges: STEM interest and inquiry in early childhood. In J. G. Manning, J. B. Jensen, M. K. Hemenway, and M. G. Gibbs (Eds), Ensuring STEM Literacy (pp. 149-156). San Francisco: Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
  • Callanan, M.A., Luce, M., Triona, L., Rigney, J., Siegel, D. & Jipson, J.L. (2012). What counts as science in everyday and family interactions.  In B. Bevan, P. Bell, R. Stevens & A. Razfar (Eds.), LOST opportunities: Learning in out of school time (pp. 29-49). Netherlands: Springer.
  • Jipson, J.L. & Gelman, S.A. (2007). Robots and rodents: Children’s inferences about living and non-living kinds. Child Development, 78, 1675-1688.
  • Jipson, J. L., & Callanan, M. (2003). Mother-child conversation and children's understanding of biological and non-biological changes in size. Child Development, 74, 629-644.
  • Callanan, M.A., & Jipson, J.L. (2001). Explanatory conversations and young children's developing scientific literacy. In Crowley, K., Schunn, C.D., & Okada, T. (Eds). Designing for science: Implications from professional, instructional, and everyday science. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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


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