What to expect if you visit the PlayLab:
We are situated on the Singleton Campus at Swansea University (See How to Find us Page for directions).
There is free parking for visitors to the PlayLab and the spaces are right outside the Lab entrance (spaces are signposted) so if you are coming by car we will meet you in the car park – we can see you arrive from the lab. If on foot or coming by bus we will meet you in the Vivian Tower Ground Floor Reception area (as this is far easier to find when walking across campus). You will be met by one of our researchers.
PlayLab research is conducted in a couple of small quiet rooms that are situated in the Sleep and Lifespan lab. It has a private entrance away from other offices, and has disabled access. It is designed to minimise distractions and is neutrally decorated. As part of the lab we have two separate toilets and a kitchen – so we have lots of tea and coffee on the go at any one time (decaf and herbal teas, and plant based milks also available). Sometimes we even have biscuits (if we haven’t eaten them all).
On arrival, participants are taken to the welcome room, where the child(ren) can play and get familiar with the new situation and with the experimenter. Parents can have any remaining questions answered over a cup of tea before signing the consent form. There are no cameras in this room so babies can be fed or changed in peace.
For the test session we move to the adjoining test room, and this only happens when everyone is happy, and comfortable.
Sessions are conducted in a calm, playful manner. The sessions are decided to be fun (I know we enjoy them). Parents are reminded not to worry if their babies seem to do very little, something they wouldn’t expect or decide to be “difficult” – we have seen it all before! There are no ‘correct answers’ in our studies, so all responses are fine!
In all PlayLab studies parents are asked to stay with their babies for the duration of the session. We usually ask parents to remain in the background and refrain from directing their babies’ actions so we can exam what babies do naturally by themselves.
Babies are usually seated in a secure infant carseat or on their parent’s lap. Breaks are available if necessary and most of our studies are designed to be short (and age appropriate).
Some of our studies use Eyetracking, EEG (recording brain activity using a little cap with electrodes placed on the head) or we might ask babies to watch a demonstration on a TV screen. However, most studies are toy play based. We will inform you of what the study involves before you come to the PlayLab.
At the end of all sessions parents are given a chance to ask any questions they may have and are told what the study was about. A more detailed report of our findings is sent by post to those parents who request it at the time of testing. References to any published scientific papers are also posted online (albeit much later; it usually takes at least a year or so before a completed research study is published in a professional journal).
For some studies (though not all, dependent on funding) we offer a small payment to compensate parents for their time and travelling expenses (this is normally £10 though it can be higher for longer studies conducted with teenagers). Sessions usually last less than one hour, allowing for parents’ questions at the start and the end, as well as toilet and feeding breaks. After the study, each baby is presented with a personalised “Baby Scientist” certificate in English and Welsh (Young Child Diplomas are given to older children). All our information and posters are also produced bilingually, but our studies are usually conducted in English.