Longitudinal Study of Australian Children: Key Research Questions

Introduction

The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) is based on a bioecological framework of human development (Sanson, Nicholson, Ungerer, Zubrick, & Wilson, 2002). This approach places an emphasis on both the immediate and broader environment as important for child development (Figure 1). It explicitly acknowledges the child’s own contribution to their development and highlights time as an important influence (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998, 2006).

Figure 1: Bronfenbrenner: Ecological theory of child development

Figure 1: Bronfenbrenner: ecological theory of child development, described in text.

Source: Santrock, J.W. (2007). Child Development. Eleventh edition. NY: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

In applying this conceptual framework, the LSAC takes a developmental pathways approach, emphasising trajectories of development across the lifespan. This perspective seeks to identify the factors that influence pathways for good and for poor outcomes. How these factor vary, especially at crucial transition points such as entry into child care or school or movement out of education into the workforce, is able to be identified and explored.

The LSAC Key Research Questions were first developed in 2002 to ensure that the LSAC reflected a strong theoretical understanding of child development and addressed issues relevant to social policy. A review of these questions was conducted in 2008 to make sure that the study continued to measure age-relevant issues and circumstances as the children moved into adolescence. These questions were reviewed again in 2015 to reflect the children’s transition into adulthood. The following is the new set of Key Research Questions that were developed during this review.

Key research questions

Key Research Question A

What earlier factors directly influence and/or mediate or moderate an adult’s later physical health and development over time? What is the effect of earlier physical health development on an adult’s overall wellbeing and on other specific outcomes, and how does this influence change over time?

Key Research Question B

What are the nature and impacts of early family composition, relationships and dynamics on the adult outcome domains, and how do these relationships and their effects change over time?

Key Research Question C

What is the influence of prior parental labour force participation, education and economic status on the individual adult outcome domains? How do the impacts of prior parental labour force participation, education and economic status change over time?

Key Research Question D

What are the prior effects of non-parental child care and children’s school engagement and achievement on individual adult outcome domains? How do these experiences and influences change over time and relate to adult outcomes?

Key Research Question E

What is the influence of participation in education, training and the labour force on adult outcomes?

Key Research Question F

What are the impacts of children’s use of time on individual adult outcomes? Do different patterns of time use produce differential adult outcomes?

Key Research Question G

Which prior child, parental and community beliefs, attitudes and expectations influence adult outcomes? Do different patterns and effects of these beliefs, attitudes and expectations produce differing adult outcomes?

Key Research Question H

How do circumstances such as the prior parental labour force participation, education and economic status of children, families and communities help individuals achieve resilience and thus the ability to cope with transitions or adversity? How do these factors influence individual adult outcomes and how do these influences change over time?

What do we mean by 'outcomes'

In these Key Research Questions the term ‘outcomes’ refers to a diverse range of child, adolescent and adult outcomes. The transition from infancy to adulthood involves such processes as acquiring skills and knowledge, developing mental and physical capacities, establishing personality, improving social competencies, and emotional maturity. These outcomes are summarised into four ‘domains’ which are proposed as the major components of current wellbeing and the future capability to be a successful civic and economic participant. These domains and some of the constructs they include are:

Health and physical development

Social and emotional functioning

Learning and cognitive development

Emerging adulthood

Further information

For more information on the review of the key research questions, including a list of the previous versions of the key research questions, please see the full report.

Download Key Research Questions 2015 (PDF 2.3 MB)
Download Key Research Questions 2015 (DOC 560 KB)

References

Publications menu

Top