Full Text HD-94-007

BEHAVIORAL DEVELOPMENT IN MIDDLE CHILDHOOD

NIH GUIDE, Volume 22, Number 30, August 20, 1993

RFA:  HD-94-007

P.T. 34, AA

Keywords: 
  Behavioral/Social Studies/Service 
  Child Psychology/Development 


National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
National Institute of Mental Health

Application Receipt Date:  January 18, 1994

PURPOSE

The Human Learning and Behavior Branch (HLB) of the Center for
Research for Mothers and Children (CRMC), National Institute of Child
Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the Division of Neuroscience
and Behavioral Science (DNBS), National Institute of Mental Health
(NIMH) invite applications for the support of research on behavioral
development during middle childhood.

The purpose of this Request for Applications (RFA) is to stimulate
the submission of high quality research applications for scientific
studies designed to characterize psychological and behavioral aspects
of the development of American children during their middle childhood
period. More specifically, the investigations should center upon
gaining a deep understanding of social, emotional and cognitive
processes that develop and help to uniquely define that period in
development that is termed middle childhood (the period that includes
the age range among children in grades K-6).  Research focusing on
normative development is particularly encouraged.

HEALTHY PEOPLE 2000

The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health
promotion and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy People 2000,"
a PHS-led national activity for setting priority goals.  This RFA,
Behavioral Development in Middle Childhood, relates to the priority
area of psychological, behavioral, familial and cultural factors
associated with variations in development of American boys and girls
during their middle childhood years.  Potential applicants may obtain
a copy of "Healthy People 2000" (Full Report:  Stock No.
017-001-00474-0) or "Healthy People 2000" (Summary Report:  Stock No.
017-001-00473-1) through the Superintendent of Documents, Government
Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402-9325 (telephone 202-783-3238).

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Applications may be submitted by domestic for-profit and non-profit
organizations, public and private, such as universities, colleges,
units of state and local governments, and eligible agencies of the
Federal government.  Applications from minority individuals and women
are encouraged.  Foreign institutions are not eligible for the First
Independent Research Support and Transition (FIRST) (R29) award.

MECHANISMS OF SUPPORT

Research support will be provided through the individual research
project grant (R01) and FIRST (R29) awards.  Policies that the govern
grant programs of the Public Health Service will prevail.

Responsibility for the planning, direction, and execution of the
proposed projects will be solely that of the applicant.  The total
period of support for any application submitted in response to this
RFA may not exceed five years.

This RFA is a one-time solicitation.  Future unsolicited applications
or those submitted as continuations to any funded application in
connection with this RFA will be reviewed by Division of Research
Grants (DRG) Initial Review Groups (IRGs) according to the customary
peer review procedures.

FUNDS AVAILABLE

The support of grants in connection with this RFA is contingent on
the availability of funds for this purpose.  The number of grants
awarded will be influenced by the total amount of funds available to
the NICHD and NIMH, by the overall number of meritorious applications
received, and the relevance of the applications to stated program
goals.  It is anticipated that up to $1 million direct costs
($750,000, NICHD; $250,000, NIMH) will be available to fund six to
eight meritorious applications under this RFA (a maximum of four to
six, NICHD; two, NIMH).

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

Background

This RFA was initiated in response to requests made by the Congress
of the United States to the NICHD.  Report #102-397 (FY 1993) of the
U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee (p.114) encourages the NICHD:
"...to embark on a long-term planning process to investigate
psychological and behavioral processes of the middle childhood years,
ages 5-11 years."   Similarly, in report #102-708 (FY 1993) by The
Committee on Appropriations of the U.S. House of Representatives
(p.77) encourages: " the NICHD in collaboration with the NIMH to
consider development of a new general behavioral science initiative
in the area of middle childhood development."

While the scope of child behavior development research spans the
years between birth to the beginning of adulthood, scientists working
in this domain have by and large focused their research interests on
two periods, infancy and adolescence.  For example, during the past
three decades scientists have made many discoveries about a baby's
normative capacities for learning, knowing and remembering, the
forming of social and emotional relationships within the family,
psychomotor competency, and the acquisition of speech and language.
During the past ten years there has also been an upsurge of interest
in the study of adolescence.  Much of this research on American
teenagers has dealt with risk taking behaviors that are deleterious
to the health of the individual or present dangers of relevance to
the public health.

By comparison with the research efforts devoted to infants and
adolescents, the scientific investigation and thus our basic
understanding of middle childhood has not been as broad or as deep.
This knowledge gap on behavioral development in middle childhood was
highlighted in a report by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
(Collins, 1984).  While the NAS panel members agreed that many
studies on social, emotional, and cognitive processes had been
undertaken in middle childhood-aged children, they concluded that
much additional basic research was needed to gain a deeper
understanding of this important period.  This conclusion still
remains valid.

Although research during the past decade has continued to investigate
aspects of social, emotional, cognitive and general psychological
functioning in children from the age cohort of interest (Collins and
Gunnar, 1990), investigations of middle childhood per se were not the
main focus.  Rather, researchers have been studying aspects of
psychological and behavioral functioning and the children they
employed as subjects happened to be in the elementary school age
range.  This generalization further reinforces the need to address
the knowledge gap and explore psychological and behavioral processes
uniquely associated with middle childhood.

Scientists who have studied middle childhood have gained important
general insights about the uniqueness of this period.  Students of
development recognize that middle childhood is a time of significant
change in the lives of children.  For example, the expanding
capacities for thinking, abstracting, and self-management
differentiate K-6th grade children from infants and toddlers.  Their
ability and skill to interact with others, form friendships, and
socialize outside of the family structure are defining features of
the middle childhood years.  The capacity and motivation for learning
and acquiring knowledge, both in formal educational settings and on
their own, helps to set children's middle childhood years apart from
their earlier developmental periods.  Physical development during
this period progresses along a trajectory that transforms a child
into an adolescent.  An important conclusion of the NAS report was
that the behavior and performance of children during their middle
childhood are much more predictive of adolescent and adult status
than is their behavior earlier in life.  The panel also asserted that
the prediction of later status improves as a child develops during
this period of life (Collins, 1984).

This latter point is highly relevant for the rationale to issue an
RFA.  The period of adolescence in America is most often brought to
the public consciousness due to the headlines that teenagers as
individuals or as a group generate with respect to negative
behaviors.  Consider, for example, the problems of teenagers
associated with peer pressure, unintentional injuries, dropping out
of school, teenage pregnancy, depression, suicide and experimentation
with and dependence upon licit and illicit substances (e.g.,
cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, etc.).  One could argue that the
concerns raised and the intervention programs under way and/or being
considered to deal with these and other problems of adolescents are
too late, since the roots of the problems start earlier in
development.

Are such behavioral problems predictable?  Could a better
understanding of development during the middle childhood years
provide relevant clues about the initiation of healthy behaviors or
when behavior is going to go awry?  It is the jointly held view of
both NICHD and NIMH that a basic research emphasis on behavioral
development in middle childhood will provide necessary information
for aiding public health officials, community groups, and parents to
design meaningful prevention programs that could start at a period in
life before problem behaviors emerge.  The focus of this RFA is
therefore on the development of psychological and behavioral factors
that emerge in the context of the various environments in which
children live (e.g., family, peer group, school class, etc.) during
their middle childhood years.

While there are many processes that could be studied in relation to
middle childhood, the focus of this RFA is on social, emotional and
cognitive development.  In the area of social development, for
example, an important question relates to the beginnings and
intensification of peer relationships.  That is, what are the
factors, during middle childhood, that shift children's interests
such that they begin to affiliate with others, beyond the family, and
develop social relationships with acquaintances and friends?  How do
such peer relationships affect children's behavioral and
psychological development?  How do experiences and relationships
within the family enhance or impede psychological growth and adaptive
functioning?  In the area of emotion, studies of development of
affect during middle childhood are needed.  Some relevant questions
concerning emotion relate to the ways children develop and express
anger and sadness.  How do peer, family, and school environmental
factors help to shape, modulate, or exacerbate the development and
expression of normal emotions?  In the area of cognitive development,
questions of interest relate to how children expand their capacities
to think, plan, reason, and abstract.  How do elementary school aged
children differ from toddlers on the one hand and adolescents on the
other in these key areas of cognitive development?  How, too, does
the concept of self develop to help children to manage and discipline
themselves? (Eccles, J., 1993)

These questions are not exhaustive but are meant to be illustrative
of ones the answers to which can be useful in gaining a deep
understanding of middle childhood developmental mechanisms that could
have critical bearings upon adolescent and possibly adult behaviors
of public health relevance.  Both cross-sectional and prospective
longitudinal designs are encouraged.  Research designed to gain an
understanding of social, emotional, and cognitive developmental
transitions from pre-schoolers to elementary school aged children or
elementary schoolers to middle school aged children (Gunnar and
Collins, 1988) are of great interest in so far as they help to
demarcate the psychological and behavioral boundaries of middle
childhood.  Studies that focus on normative behavioral development in
the domains listed are encouraged.  The Institutes encourage
theoretically-based research and empirical designs in which
hypotheses are tested.  Investigators are encouraged to highlight the
relevance of their proposed research for an understanding and
prediction of both healthy development and behavioral development
that goes awry (e.g., risk taking, substance abuse, unintentional
injury, violence, etc.).  Investigators are also encouraged to
incorporate setting factor(s) in which development occurs (e.g., the
family, peer group, school, etc.) as a major independent variable(s)
into their research design.

Our expectation is that a strong program of basic research conducted
under the auspices of this RFA may provide key information on social,
cognitive, and emotional factors that could influence development of
appropriate decision making skills.  The results from such research
may help provide relevant information on how peer pressure emerges
and how it can be used to foster health-promoting behaviors or lead
to behavioral problems.  Similarly, data from proposed investigations
of social, emotional, and cognitive development may inform scholars,
educators and parents concerning factors that may enhance and
maintain motivation related to self-confidence and academic
functioning beyond the years of middle childhood.  The knowledge
gathered from this initiative may also be of critical aid in
developing future treatment or prevention programs in the areas of
mental and behavioral disorders that have their origins in the
childhood years of development.

STUDY POPULATIONS

SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS TO APPLICANTS REGARDING IMPLEMENTATION OF NIH
POLICIES CONCERNING INCLUSION OF WOMEN AND MINORITIES IN CLINICAL
RESEARCH STUDY POPULATIONS

NIH policy is that applicants for NIH clinical research grants and
cooperative agreements will be required to include minorities and
women in study populations so that research findings can be of
benefit to all persons at risk of the disease, disorder or condition
under study; special emphasis should be placed on the need for
inclusion of minorities and women in studies of diseases, disorders
and conditions which disproportionately affect them.  This policy is
intended to apply to males and females of all ages.  If women or
minorities are excluded or inadequately represented in clinical
research, particularly in proposed population-based studies, a clear
compelling rationale should be provided.  The composition of the
proposed study population must be described in terms of gender and
racial/ethnic group.  In addition, gender and racial/ethnic issues
should be addressed in developing a research design and sample size
appropriate for the scientific objectives of the study.  This
information should be included in the form PHS 398 in Sections 1-4 of
the Research Plan AND summarized in Section 5, Human Subjects.

Applicants are urged to assess carefully the feasibility of including
the broadest possible representation of minority groups.  However,
NIH recognizes that it may not be feasible or appropriate in all
research projects to include representation of the full array of
United States racial/ethnic minority populations (i.e., Native
Americans (including American Indians or Alaskan Natives),
Asian/Pacific Islanders, Blacks, Hispanics).

The rationale for studies on single minority population groups should
be provided.

For the purpose of this policy, clinical research includes human
biomedical and behavioral studies of etiology, epidemiology,
prevention (and preventive strategies), diagnosis, or treatment of
diseases, disorders or conditions, including but not limited to
clinical trials.

The usual NIH policies concerning research on human subjects also
apply.  Basic research or clinical studies in which human tissues
cannot be identified or linked to individuals are excluded.  However,
every effort should be made to include human tissues from women and
racial/ethnic minorities when it is important to apply the results of
the study broadly, and this should be addressed by applicants.

For foreign awards, the policy on inclusion of women applies fully;
since the definition of minority differs in other countries, the
applicant must discuss the relevance of research involving foreign
population groups to the United States' populations, including
minorities.

If the required information is not contained within the application,
the application will be returned.

Peer reviewers will address specifically whether the research plan in
the application conforms to these policies.  If the representation of
women or minorities in a study design is inadequate to answer the
scientific question(s) addressed AND the justification for the
selected study population is inadequate, it will be considered a
scientific weakness or deficiency in the study design and will be
reflected in assigning the priority score to the application.

All applications for clinical research submitted to NIH are required
to address these policies.  NIH funding components will not award
grants or cooperative agreements that do not comply with these
policies.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

In order to maximize the impact of research on this topic the NICHD
and NIMH will jointly sponsor yearly meetings at the NIH of the
funded Principal Investigators.  At these meetings, grantees will
have the opportunity to meet each other and their project officers,
share methodological information, and provide updates on progress.
Applicants should therefore include funds in their proposed budget
for a two day visit each year with NIH officials at the two
sponsoring Institutes.

APPLICATION PROCEDURES

Applications are to be submitted on form PHS 398 (rev. 9/91).  The
application kit may be obtained from the office of sponsored research
at your university/research institution and from the Office of Grants
Information, Division of Research Grants, National Institutes of
Health, 5333 Westbard Avenue, Room 449, Bethesda, Md 20892, telephone
301/435-0714.

Applications for the FIRST Award (R29) must include at least three
sealed letters of reference attached to the face page f the original
application.  First Award (R29) applications submitted without the
required number of reference letters will be considered incomplete
and will be returned without review.

The RFA label available in the PHS 398 kit must be affixed to the
bottom of the face page of the application.  Failure to use this
label could result in delayed processing and therefore cause the
application to not reach the Initial Review Group (IRG) in time for
review.  In addition, the RFA title and number must be typed on line
2a of the face page and the YES box must be marked with an X.

Submit a signed, typewritten original of the application, including
the checklist, and three signed, photocopies, in one package to:

Division of Research Grants
National Institutes of Health
Westwood Building, Room 240
Bethesda, MD  20892**

At the time of submission, two additional copies of the application
must also be sent to:

Susan Streufert, Ph.D.
Division of Scientific Review
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
6100 Building, Room 5E03F
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 496-1485

Applications must be received by January 18, 1994.  Applications
received after that date will be returned to the applicant.

If the application submitted in response to this RFA is substantially
similar to a grant application already submitted to the NIH for
review, but has not yet been reviewed, the applicant will be asked to
withdraw either the pending application or the new one.  Simultaneous
submission of identical applications will not be allowed, nor will
essentially identical applications be reviewed by different review
committees.  Therefore, an application cannot be submitted in
response to this RFA that is essentially identical to one that has
already been reviewed.  This does not preclude the submission of
substantial revisions of applications already reviewed, but such
applications must include an introduction addressing the previous
critique.

REVIEW CONSIDERATIONS

Applications will be reviewed by NIH staff for completeness and
responsiveness to the RFA.  Incomplete applications will be returned
to the applicant without further consideration.  If the application
is not responsive to the RFA, it will be returned to the applicant.
The applicant will then have the option of submitting it to the DRG
for review by a standing IRG at the next review cycle.

Applications may be triaged by a peer review committee on the basis
of relative competitiveness.  The NIH will withdraw from further
consideration those applications deemed to be non-competitive for
award and will notify the Principal Investigator and institutional
official of this fact.  Those applications judged to be competitive
will undergo review for scientific merit by a Special Review
Committee (SRC) convened by the NICHD.  The second level of review
will be conducted by the respective National Advisory Councils of the
NICHD and the NIMH.

REVIEW CRITERIA

The review criteria to be employed are as follows:

o  scientific significance, technical excellence, and originality of
the proposed research.

o  appropriateness and adequacy of the approach and methodology
proposed to carry out the research.

o  qualifications and research experience of the Principal
Investigator, collaborating investigators and staff, in the area of
the proposed research.

o  availability of resources necessary to carry out the research.

o  appropriateness of the budget and time in relation to the proposed
specific aims and scientific goals.

The anticipated date of award is July 1, 1994.

INQUIRIES

Potential applicants are welcome to make inquiries concerning this
RFA.  Questions related to programmatic issues may be directed to:

Norman A. Krasnegor, Ph.D.
Center for Research for Mothers and Children
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
6100 Building, Room 4B05
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 496-6591

Mary Ellen Oliveri, Ph.D.
Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Science
National Institute of Mental Health
5600 Fishers Lane, Room 11C-10
Rockville, MD  20857
Telephone:  (301) 443-3942

Direct inquiries concerning fiscal matters to:

Edgar D. Shawver
Office of Grants and Contracts
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
6100 Building, Room 8A17E
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 496-1303

Diana Trunnell
Assistant Chief, Grants Management Branch
National Institute of Mental Health
5600 Fishers Lane, Room 7C-15
Rockville, MD  20857
Telephone:  (301) 443-3065

AUTHORITY AND REGULATIONS

This program is described in the Catalogue of Federal Domestic
Assistance No. 93.865, Research for Mothers and Children and 93.242
Mental Health Research projects.  Awards are made under the
authorization of the Public Health Service Act, Title IV, Part A
(Public Law 78-410, as amended by Public Law 99-158, 42 USC 241 and
285) and administered under PHS grants policies and Federal
Regulations 42 CFR 52 and 45 CFR part 74.  Awards are also made under
authorization of PHS Act Title V, Part B. This program is not subject
to the intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 12372
or Health Systems Agency review.

References

Collins, W.A. (Ed.) (1984), Development during middle childhood, the
years from 6-12.  Washington, D.C.:  National Academy Press.

Collins, W.A. and Gunnar, M.R. (1990), Social and personality
development.  Annual Review of Psychology, 41, 387-416.

Eccles, J.S. (1993), Age and gender differences in children's
self-and task-perceptions during elementary school.  Child
Development, 64, 830.

Gunnar, M.R. and Collins, W.A. (Eds.) (1988), Development during the
transition to adolescence.  Minnesota Symposium on Child Psychology,
21, Hillsdale, N.J.:  Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

.

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