Research Projects

Learning is at the heart of human development; thus, lifelong learning can help people better cope with the life’s challenges and achieve our personal goals. But how exactly do we develop  lifelong learning skills? Children are natural learners, something which can be seen through the extremely efficient learning intake they demonstrate in their early years. By studying the cognitive and social development of these young children, we seek to understand the learning process better in order to support creative approaches to learning.

Social Cognition

Our current social development studies include:

Tool Innovation

Natural Outdoor Activities and Creativity

Cooperative Norms

How Children Think about Punishing Immoral Behavior

Understanding Others and Punishment Behaviors

How Children Learn by Interacting with the Natural Environment

Concept Cognition

Concepts are the fundamental building blocks of the human mind. We form concepts through abstracting our experience, and generalizing the knowledge for future reference. The necessity of understanding concept formation from an educational perspective cannot be understated, thus TULLL aims to assemble a more comprehensive understanding of this phenomenon through direct studies on young children, extracting those critical insights which can be used to inform innovative tools and useful theories/models for educators all around the world.

Teacher Education

Classroom teaching and learning processes need to be co-created by both the learner and the teacher, however, most classrooms remain teacher-centered and led by teachers direct instruction. Our research goal is to investigate how to integrate pedagogies that can better support students’ diverse learning needs. Pedagogical approaches such as group work, hands-on learning, and project-based-learning, remain understudied, particularly in the context of the Chinese education system. Our research also aims to address the question of how to facilitate teacher education/training which imbues teachers with the mindsets necessary for utilization of diverse and innovative pedagogies.

EdTech Design

We collaborate with experts in design, computer science and engineering to research and develop innovative, hands-on, online education tools and platforms. By exploring and experimenting with these tools, we aim to understand how they influence students’ competences like creativity, collaboration, innovation and problem solving.


Ye, J., & Zhao, D. (2019). Developing different identity trajectories: Lessons from the Chinese teachers. Teachers and Teaching, 25(1), 34-53.

Wu, Z.*, Gao, X.#(2018). Preschoolers’ group bias in punishing selfishness in the ultimatum game. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 166, 280-292. (SSCI,JCR rank = 19/70)

Mengxing Ao & Ying-Qing Xu (2018). Epistemic Ecology: An Artwork of Gigapixel Imagery and Ideas, Leonardo

Wu, Z.*, Chen, X., Gros-Louis, J., & Su, Y. (2018). “She is looking at me! Shall I share?” How Chinese and American preschoolers respond to eye gaze during sharing. Social Development, 27, 447-460. (SSCI, JCR rank = 26/70, IF = 2.042)

Wu, Z., & Gros-Louis, J*. (2017). The value of vocalizing: 10-month-olds’ vocal usage relates to language outcomes at 15 months. Infancy, 22(1), 23–41. (SSCI ,24/70)

Wu, Z.*, Zhang, Z., Guo, R.#, & Gros-Louis, J.^ (2017). Motivation counts: Autonomous but not obligated sharing promotes happiness in preschoolers. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 867. (SSCI ,33/129)

Chen Tong &Wu Zhen (2017)Distributive justice of children: the role of theory of mind. Advances in Psychological Science, 25 (8), 1299-1309

Wu Zhen & Guo Rui (2017) The relationship between infant pointer gesture and language learning. Advances in Psychological Science, 25 (10), 1705-1712.

Zhao Di, Wu Zhen& Peng Ruiwen (2017) How to learn through play in lifelong learning, Information Technology Education in Primary and Secondary Schools

Zhao Di (2017) Case Study of Teacher Training in Leading Primary and Secondary Schools: Characteristics and Enlightenment of Stanford Teacher Education Project (STEP), Educational Science Research