On behalf of the joint Erikson-Loyola doctoral program in Child Development, please join committee Chair Dr. Judson Everitt and the entire community in congratulating Dr. Missi Jacobson on the successful defense of her dissertation entitled, “Peer Culture of Block Play in an Early Childhood Classroom.” Dr. Jacobson held her defense in front of a packed house at Erikson on Thursday, April 20. Her study was an ethnography of early childhood peer cultures within block play areas at a preschool. Dr. Jacobson impressively conducted this extensive fieldwork as the entire world was navigating a reconvene of in-person activity after the lockdowns forced by the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. She spent an entire academic year observing as an “atypical adult” in a classroom with 22 students in their block play area. Dr. Jacobson examined the multiple ways that children form friendships, how they initiate play activity, and the ways that they use the material world around them to inform and shape their peer cultures. Dr. Jacobson’s research advances an alternative to traditional constructivist theories of childhood development by emphasizing the collective ways children develop friendships and peer cultures via everyday interactions as they “play with” elements of their worlds, both literally and figuratively. We look forward to celebrating Missi’s accomplishments further at graduation. Congratulations Dr. Jacobson!
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