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In this introduction to The Development of Children’s Memory: The Scientific Contributions of Peter A. Ornstein, we provide biographical information for Professor Ornstein and identify some contextual influences on his work. We then examine the four distinct but interrelated programs of research he conducted that form the structure for this volume. Next, we briefly describe the chapters that are included in the review of each research program and introduce the authors. Ornstein’s scientific development over his 50 years in research is depicted as moving from the study of age-related changes in memory performance to an increasing emphasis on the developmental processes that result in skilled remembering in children. This transition both reflected and contributed to the emergence of a developmental science of memory.
Responding to a controversy regarding young witnesses’ legal testimony in cases of child abuse, Professor Ornstein implemented a program of research designed to inform the assessment of children’s reports of forensically relevant events. This chapter provides an overview of this extensive work. Following a discussion of the extant scientific and societal contexts, we examine the research paradigm that enabled Ornstein and his colleagues to investigate ethically children’s reports of real-world, sometimes stressful experiences under conditions of experimental control. Next, we describe differences in the event reports provided by children between the ages of 3 and 7 as documented in this research, and explore the underlying explanations for these differences. We continue with an examination of the contributions of Ornstein and his colleagues for obtaining and evaluating children’s eyewitness testimony, and discuss some continuing challenges for understanding children’s memory for salient experiences.
This book provides an understanding of memory development through an examination of the scientific contributions of eminent developmental scientist Peter A. Ornstein. His fifty-year career not only coincided with but also contributed to a period of extraordinary progress in the understanding of children's memory. The volume describes this historical context, constructs a theoretical structure for understanding memory development, and emphasizes research applications for educational and forensic practice. Organized around Ornstein's four influential research programs in children's memory strategies, children's event memory, family socialization of memory, and classroom socialization of memory, the chapters examine contemporary directions in each area, with commentaries addressing each program provided by internationally renowned developmental psychologists. The book presents a comprehensive overview of memory development for psychologists and educators at all levels of training and practice, and also provides a model of a generative life in science.