Promoting Early Engagement, Relationships, and Socialization (PEERS)


The goal of Promoting Early Engagement, Relationships, and Socialization (PEERS) is to create a systematic guide to support teachers in organizing groupings of children during play time to support their language development. These groupings are designed to maximize language input from peers for children with delays in their language development.

Children with language delays tend to be excluded from the peer social networks in early intervention and early childhood special education (ECSE) classrooms, and have fewer interactions and friendships than typically developing children (Chen et al., 2020b; Chen, Lin, Justice, & Sawyer, 2017). This has long term effects on several areas including their language development and school liking. PEERS seeks to disrupt these trends and foster language development for children with language delays through a peer-mediated intervention, where children complete intervention activities with the support of their teacher. PEERS uses state of the art sensing technologies, embedded systems comprised of both hardware and software, to collect continuous proximity and language data on all children in the classroom throughout their day. These data allow us to gain a more accurate and holistic picture of children’s experiences and to investigate the effects of this peer-mediated intervention both at the individual child level and in the broader classroom social network.

 – Funding –

PEERS was funded by the National Institute of Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Sciences.

 – Timeline –

PEERS received funding from June 2020 through August 2023.

Meet the Team

Laura Justice, PhD


Matthew Brock, PhD


Hui Jang


Hugo Gonzalez Villasanti


Tiffany Foster

Tiffany Foster

Research Scientist

Nan Xiao

Research Scientist

Logan Pelfrey

Project Director

Kaitlyn Bregman

Field Staff

Fatemah Shehab

Research Assistant

Justice Stoll

Research Assistant