Q&A with Rosa Guzman, Researcher Scientist with Reach Every Reader

July 22, 2020

Rosa Guzman’s research interests lie at the intersection between language, literacy, and technology. She seeks to understand how technology, such as e-readers, is shaping children’s literacy and language development at home and at school.

This research will help parents and practitioners make better decisions regarding how, when, and where to use technological devices especially in disadvantaged communities. Guzman’s  ultimate goal is to find tools that can help children be better prepared for grade school and close the various educational gaps found in the U.S. today.

Prior to graduate school, Rosa worked as a lab manager and research assistant at the Harvard Lab for Developmental studies. She conducted several studies that explored the training of children’s intuitive numerical and spatial abilities, with the goal of creating fun games that could help children mathematical abilities in underserved communities. She has also worked on projects that focused on understanding the role of bilingualism in children’s executive function and social skills.

What is your role in Reach Every Reader?

I am a research assistant and facilitate the fieldwork for the Pre-K Home and Family apps’ development. I specifically assist in the study design, data collection, analysis, and reporting of results.

Why is this work meaningful to you?

I have always been interested in understanding the context and the mechanisms behind the achievement gaps that exist at the start of early childhood education. As a first generation American from a low-income immigrant family, I experienced and witnessed many families struggling to support their children’s education due to lack of resource accessibility, information, and financial resources. Growing up the idea of the American dream was instilled in me. My family came to the US in the hopes of achieving this dream, or at least provide the opportunity to the next generations. However, I kept learning that achieving the “American” dream or any one’s own potential was much more difficult for individuals who came from disadvantaged backgrounds. I was fortunate enough to receive the support of teachers and guidance counselors who not only encouraged me, but guided me to the resources necessary in order for me to go to college. All children deserve to have the help and support they need to achieve their dreams and full potential. In my current work, I focus on finding solutions to problems such as the achievement gap by focusing on how to promote a rich home learning environment and equip parents with the knowledge they need to help their children. I ultimately aspire to create tools and resources that can help parents and practitioners make better decisions regarding how, when, and where to use technological devices.

How has this COVID19 pandemic impacted your work and/or perspective of educational preschool apps?

The COVID19 pandemic has pushed me to work harder to investigate how technology can support children’s learning. Parents of young children are struggling to find activities that they can do together at home that are new and engaging for all of them. Although there are a lot of educational apps on the market, very few of these apps have evidence to support that they are supporting children’s learning. We need to create an educational app market for parents that not only provides them with research-backed apps, but also provides them with transparent information about how to incorporate these apps into their daily routines.

What have you learned so far that could help parents struggling to support their children’s learning at home?

Simple interactions can go a long way for children. Simple games like hide and seek are great opportunities to not only have fun, but engage in conversations that expose children to a rich language environment. Children are curious and are eager to learn and through language we can not only teach them about the world, but also learn from them about their own ideas and interests which will further boost their own learning.

What is your favorite part of Reach Every Reader?

My favorite part has been learning from parents and children about what works and does not work when playing educational apps with their children. Parents had many recommendations that we have incorporated into the apps that have made the apps more successful. I have also really enjoyed working with app developers and learning how to translate research findings to create fun products for families.