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The Little Athenians Lab is currently investigating the following research topics:

Parenting Style and Children's AutonomyInspired by the curiosity and passion of a former research assistant of ours,  Anapaula (Ana) Munoz Constantino , we began brainstorming this study in Summer 2022. Ana is interested in how different parenting styles (she is especially curios about Gentle parenting, a relatively new way of parenting gaining popularity in the U.S. and Western Europe) impacts children's ability to be independent (when no adults are around) when they encounter difficult or tense social interactions (e.g., if child A does not want to share their toy but child B insists on taking it from them, how might child A's parenting style impact how this child handles this situation?).

Congratulations to Ana Munoz Constantino presented this work with Dr. Rojo at WPA 2023. Check out our poster HERE.

This project lead to a broader research question, and project....

What is Gentle Parenting?  Very little academic literature has been published on this relatively modern parenting approach, Gentle (sometimes called Respectful) parenting. As far as we know, no operational definition exists for this Gentle Parenting most of what we know exists in mainstream media and literature (e.g., parent blogs, TikTok and Instagram). In an effort to provide the field with a concrete description of if/how these parenting discipline their children, navigate their children's emotions, parent's values, etc., we are currently collecting data from self-identified gentle parents, and interviewing them about their various parenting practices. Dr. Rojo and research assistant Lyn Valles are leading this work :) See you at he SRCD conference, in March 2023, for our presentation of some of this qualitative and qualitative work :)

Congratulations to Jocelyn Valles and Ana Munoz Constantino who presented this work at SRCD 2023. Check out our poster HERE.

Grandparent's Parenting Style:  In a study inspired by our What is Gentle Parenting project (see above), we are curious to learn if Gentle Parents tend to have been reared by a certain kind of parent. For example, is it the case that Gentle Parents are more likely to have been raised by an Authoritative parent (Maccoby & Martin, 1983) than a Helicopter parent? In this phone interview + online survey study, we are collecting data from self-identified Gentle Parents to assess their childhood experiences/how their most influential parents reared them, to discern the most likely patterns that might have lead to their current Gentle Parenting practices.


(Your new project) I am also open to building new lines of research with students at MSMU. Even if you are interested in a topic outside of language (though still within the realms of cognitive or social psychology), and you are a student at MSMU, I encourage you to consider joining our lab!

I am usually looking for students who are willing to commit to at least 2 consecutive semesters in the lab, and because much of the work that we will be doing is self-lead, I am also looking for students who are reliable, engaged, and intrinsically motivated. We may be designing a new research study "from scratch," reading research articles, submitting IRB applications, recruiting human participants for data collection, analyzing data (using R and/or SPSS), and/or preparing poster or oral presentations for local, regional, or international conferences. :)

Also, if you'd like to help with our child studies, you may need to travel to local preschools and daycares (e.g., the Doheny Campus Child Development Center or schools in the Los Angeles area) for data collection, and must thus have a reliable means of transportation. 

We have finished data collection and are in the process of writing manuscripts (in hopes of publication) for the following projects:

(Forms of Address Project; FOA) We have assessed how different instructor's forms-of-address (e.g., Mrs., Miss, Professor, first-name) affect student's experience in the classroom, as well as the instructor's own reactions to how students engage with them, based on title differences. We have collected over 100 participants worth of data (both from students and from instructors) for this project. Two of our former research assistants presented findings at WPA in October, 2020 based on the findings of this project. 

Alyssa Ream also presented some of the findings from this study at WPA 2022. View this poster.

(Instructor's Attire; IA) In a follow up study to the FOA study above, we also studied how college instructor's attire (i.e, outfit/what they wear) impacts student's evaluations of the instructor and classroom climate. We have collected over 100 participants worth of data for this experimental survey. 

Andrea Cortave and Andrea Bernal  presented some of the findings from this study at WPA 2022. View this poster.


(Instructor's Colloquial Language; ICL) In yet another follow up study to FOA project, above, we have also explored how college instructor's language (e.g., use of humor and/or "slang") impacts student's evaluations, classroom climate, and retention of course material. We have over 500 points of data for this study, and hope to submit the manuscript for this research study, for review, in Spring 2023.

Yesenia Roman presented some of the findings from this study at WPA 2022. View this poster.

(Children's Language and Identity project) How do young children who are learning two or more languages at the same time assimilate these language skills and information about new cultures? How is their new language incorporated into their self-identity? Are there conflicts, for example, between a child's English-speaking self and their French-speaking self? An identity they express at school, and another they express at home, based on the languages spoken in those locations? With many new dual-language programs being offered in states like California and Texas, this line of research has important implications not only for conversations within the scholarly community, but for the ways that it may directly inform policy decisions about educational programs. For this study, we collected data from over thirty 7- to 10-year old bilingual children from All Souls World Language Catholic School, a dual-immersion school system here in Los Angeles. We thank the directors, principals, and families at All Souls for their participation! We hope to begin writing this paper, for publication, in early 2022. I am looking for a motivated student to help me in co-authoring this manuscript! Please apply below if you are interested :)

Alyssa Ream presented a poster at Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) 2021 conference,

based on the preliminary findings for this project. View this poster.

If you are interested in applying to be a research assistant in the Little Athenians lab, please download and complete this application then email it to Dr. Rojo at


AnaPaola Munoz, Jocelyn Valles, and I presenting at SRCD 2023
Salt Lake City, UT


Little Athenians Lab
Spring 2023
From top left: Andrea Bernal, me, Yesenia Roman
Bottom row: Ana Munoz and Andrea Cortave

NOT PICTURED: Jocelyn Valles


Little Athenians Lab
Fall 2022
From top left: Andrea Cortave, me (Dolly Rojo), Andrea Bernal
Middle Row: Anapaola Munoz, Yesenia Roman, Cynthia Melchor
Bottom Row: Jocelyn Valles


Little Athenians Lab Researchers Present at WPA 2022
Portland, OR

Lab Pic Spring 2022.png

Little Athenians Lab
Spring 2022
From top left: me (Dolly Rojo), Yesenia Roman, Cynthia Melchor
Bottom Row: Andrea Bernal, Jocelyn Valles, Andrea Cortave


Little Athenians Lab
Fall 2021 
Names included in image

Screen Shot 2020-10-14 at 11.40.02
Little Athenians Lab
Fall 2020 (during COVID-19 quarantine)
(from left, top row: Vivian Boyer, me, Andrea Bernal
bottom row: Yesenia, Roman, Yasmin Carmona, and Lesly Soto)
Screen Shot 2020-08-03 at 12.52.11
Little Athenians Lab
Summer 2020 (during COVID-19 quarantine)
(from left, top row: Alyssa Ream, me, Francesca Gunther
bottom row: Yasmin Carmona, Andrea Bernal, Lesly Soto)
Little Athenians Lab
Spring 2020
(from left, top row: Francesca Gunther, Alyssa Ream, me
bottom row: Vivian Boyer, Kimberly Ganivet, and Carin Mangassarin)
Little Athenians Lab
Fall 2019
(from left: Vivian Boyer, Alyssa Ream, me, Kimberly Ganivet)
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