Professor Lisa Gabel, PhD, is conducting research to study problem solving strategies in young children. Using a simple computer program, we are able to identify problem solving skills employed by boys and girls at different reading levels. Problem solving strategies on this computerized maze program were shown to parallel strategies children use to learn complex tasks, such as reading. We would like to determine if elementary school children, kindergarten and second grade, employ similar problem-solving skills on this virtual maze task.

How the study works


Briefly, children will complete a few measures of reading ability followed by a computer-generated maze game. The game requires the child to “walk” through a maze to find a red ball. Children will be presented with a series of fun mazes all with the same goal.

Children participating will complete these tasks online by working with a researcher through Google Meet or Zoom. The entire study will take approximately 45 minutes. If you are interested please follow links for the consent forms. There are separate forms to participate in maze task and reading measures (Informed consent forms for Reading measures and maze task), and the study looking at the link between a gene involved in reading and performance on the maze task (Informed consent form for gene study). Your child may still participate in the study even if you only wish to consent to the reading measures and maze task. Lastly, there is a brief survey (Survey) which will provide us with some background information about your child. If you child has previously participated in kindergarten, they may participate again as second graders.

Parents can earn a $20 Amazon e-gift card for their child by completing a couple of short questionnaires after your child completes the maze and reading tasks. Links for these questionnaires will be sent after your child completes the maze task and reading measures.



This study is experimental and there are no direct benefits to participants. With your participation in this study we can begin to understand the factors which underlie reading development. Results from this study could aid in optimizing reading programs and potentially minimize struggles children may face early in development.  If you would like to participate in the study, after the informed consent forms are completed a password will be sent to you in order to access the content under the “Participate” page.