Roberta Michnick Golinkoff

Roberta Michnick Golinkoff

Dr. Roberta Michnick Golinkoff believes “play is the vehicle through which children maximize their development” and that “children learn best through play and when their learning is embedded in a playful context.”1 As a professor, director, researcher, writer, and speaker, Dr. Golinkoff is “a scientific advocate for children.”2

Dr. Golinkoff earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, New York in 1968. In 1973, she received a Ph.D. degree in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. She also completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Learning, Research, and Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh in 1974.3

Since 1974, Dr. Golinkoff has directed the University of Delaware's Infant Language Project, which she founded.4 She is the H. Rodney Sharp Professor in the School of Education at the University of Delaware as well as a professor in the Department of Psychology and in the Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science. With Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, she co-directs CiRCLE (Center for Reimagining Children's Learning and Education) at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,5 and she is a co-founder of L__rn, a learning resource network.6

As a prolific writer in both the academic world and in the popular press, for decades Dr. Golinkoff has conducted research and communicated research findings concerning how children learn their native language. In the 1980s, her in depth research began to branch out to include the benefits of play. Since that time she has edited, authored, or co-authored eleven books, three of which are concerning the importance of play in learning: Einstein never used flash cards: How our children really learn and why they need to play more and memorize less (2003), Play=Learning: How play motivates and enhances children's cognitive and social-emotional growth (2006), and A mandate for playful learning in preschool: Presenting the evidence (2009).7

In 2004, Einstein never used flash cards was given the Multiple Sclerosis Society's Books for a Better Life award in the Psychology division.8 As co-author with Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Diane Eyer, Dr. Golinkoff used research to counter the growing emphasis on only academic achievement. Specifically, they refuted three social myths concerning children and learning: that learning faster is better, that children are empty of knowledge and need to be filled with facts, and that the social and emotional development of children is not important enough to take time from academic pursuits. They concluded that, “Young children do not learn through workbooks and flashcards. They learn best through meaningful exploration and play. It's time to return childhood to children and bring back the building blocks!”9 Playworks, an exhibit based on Einstein never used flash cards, was established at the Children's Museum of Manhattan in 2006.

This belief linking play with learning led to the 2005 Play=Learning research conference at Yale University, which was organized by Dr. Golinkoff, Dr. Hirsh-Pasek, and Dr. Dorothy Singer. Their book, Play=Learning, which was published the following year, brought this research to the general public.

A Mandate for Playful Learning in Preschool, published in 2009, was co-authored with Dr. Hirsh-Pasek, Laura Beck, and Dr. Singer. They presented scientific evidence that children need both unstructured free play and guided playful learning experiences, that academic and social development are interconnected, and that children learn best when they are involved and enjoying themselves.10

Dr. Golinkoff is committed to making psychology and education research findings available for practical use by parents, teachers, and policy makers. In 2009, Dr. Golinkoff and Dr. Hirsh-Pasek received the American Psychological Association's Distinguished Service to Psychological Science Award for their work in making psychological research available to policy makers and the public through “publications, public lectures and advisory roles with child-related organizations.”11

Dr. Golinkoff has been interviewed on television, radio and through such magazines and newspapers as Time, Parenting, Newsweek, Child, and The New York Times. She has also been a consultant for language research centers, children's museums, and toys companies including K'NEX Toys and Megablocks Toys.12 This dedication to communicating research findings is expressed in her declaration, “It is incumbent upon us to put science into practice!”13

In 2010, Dr. Golinkoff co-founded The Ultimate Block Party in Central Park, New York City. Celebrating the “Arts and Sciences of Play,” New Yorkers gathered to play and learn about the importance of play. Dr. Golinkoff serves on the executive committee that is spreading the Ultimate Block Party experience to other cities.14

  • 1. “Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D., Biography.” University of Delaware. 19 Oct. 2011.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. “Roberta Michnick Golinkoff.” University of Delaware. 19 Oct. 2011.
  • 4. “Welcome!” The Infant Language Project. 6 Nov. 2011. and “Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D., Home.” University of Delaware. 6 Nov. 2011.
  • 5. Op.cit., “Roberta Michnick Golinkoff.”
  • 6. “FAQs.” L__rn, Imagine Learning a Whole New Way. 6 Nov. 2011.
  • 7. Op.cit., “Roberta Michnick Golinkoff.”
  • 8. Op.cit., “Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D., Biography.”
  • 9. Golinkoff, Roberta Michnick and Kathy Hirsch-Pasek. “They're Taking Away the Building Blocks?!” Wilmington News Journal. December 16, 2003. 6 Nov. 2011.
  • 10. Op.cit., “Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D., Biography.”
  • 11. Op.cit., “Roberta Michnick Golinkoff.”
  • 12. Op.cit., “Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D., Biography.”
  • 13. Golinkoff, Roberta Michnick and Kathy Hirsch-Pasek. “Play=Learning: Preparing the 21st Century Child for a Global World.” HirshPasek_Play Equals Learning.ppt 6 Nov. 2011.
  • 14. Op.cit., “Roberta Michnick Golinkoff.”