Penney Nichols-Whitehead

 Visiting Professor

 A. A. Minneapolis Community College
 B. S. Central Michigan University
 Ph.D. University of Iowa

 office: 1110 Au Sable Hall
 phone: (616) 331-3881

 Lab: 632 Fulton Street W



Developmental Psychology

Courses Taught

  • Psy301 Child Development
  • Psy364 Life-Span Development
  • Psy300 Research Methods
  • Psy101 Introduction to Psychology 

Current Research Interests

  • Spatial cognition
  • Situated cognition and the role of context in development
  • Development of communication skills

My main interest is in understanding how developmental change occurs, particularly how context (i.e. aspects of the physical and social environments) supports cognition and provides the impetus for cognitive change. I have been pursuing two basic lines of research. One centers on how physical structures, such as boundaries, facilitate children's spatial cognition by promoting organization. The second line of research, of which my dissertation was a part, centers on how feedback from social interactions both supports children's ability to communicate about where things are and simultaneously challenges them to acquire more advanced referential communication skills.

Representative Publications

Nichols-Whitehead, P. & Plumert, J. M., (2001) The influence of boundaries on young children's searching and gathering. Journal of Cognition and Development, 2, 367-388.

Plumert, J. M., Spalding, T., & Nichols-Whitehead, P. (2001). Preferences for ascending and descending hierarchical organization in spatial cognition. Memory and Cognition, 29, 274-284.

Libkuman, T. M., Nichols-Whitehead, P. L., Griffith, J., & Thomas, R. (1999). Source of arousal and memory for detail. Memory & Cognition, 27, 166-190.

Plumert, J. M., & Nichols-Whitehead, P. L. (1996). Parental scaffolding of young children's spatial communication. Developmental Psychology, 32, 523-532.

Page last modified August 20, 2014