Longitudinal modeling has long been a central focus of research in Developmental Science and Education. In early childhood education research, correlational methods are often used to pinpoint early-life characteristics that strongly predict long-run developmental trajectories. The current talk will explore whether these models can inform causal theories regarding the development of early cognitive and self-regulatory capacities, drawing on Watts’ longitudinal work on early mathematics achievement and delay of gratification. These studies have examined whether early interventions should target specific developmental processes with the goal of producing long-run impacts on children’s outcomes. Watts argues that early childhood education researchers should consider the multiple developmental systems that give rise to variation in key measures of early skills and behaviors, and researchers should carefully consider how interventions might affect these capacities when pursuing longitudinal models.
Tyler Watts is a Research Assistant Professor and Postdoctoral Scholar in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University. He received his Ph.D. in Education in 2017 from the University of California, Irvine, where he was advised by Greg Duncan. Watts studies educational policies designed to promote the cognitive and socio-emotional development of children from underserved communities. Much of Watts’ work has focused on preschool programs, and his published research has examined the role that early interventions play in shaping children’s long-term developmental outcomes. Currently, Watts is working with Cybele Raver at NYU on the Chicago School Readiness Project, an early childhood intervention that was tested in inner-city Head Start centers. Watts' work on the project has focused on evaluating the effects of the early intervention on adolescent measures of neurocognitive ability and behavioral functioning. Watts' other recent work has examined the connection between school-related achievement skills and adult labor market outcomes.