Human Development and Family Studies

School of Health and Human Sciences

Dr. Jonathan Tudge – I’m interested in the links between 3-year-olds’ typically occurring everyday activities and their teachers’ perceptions of competence once they enter school. We observe the children over the equivalent of one day in their lives, observing wherever they are situated, in home, child-care center, with grandparents, friends, shopping, etc., focusing on the activities in which they are involved, their partners, and their roles. We then follow the children for the next few years, through their first years in formal schooling, collecting data on their performance from their teachers and parents. In Greensboro we have equal numbers of Black and White families, half from working-class backgrounds and half from middle-class backgrounds, and evenly divided by child’s gender. Various papers on this general theme can be found at my papers link.

Dr. Stephanie Coard conducts rigorous basic research that raises awareness and sensitivity to how socio-cultural issues impact developmental, educational and mental processes and outcomes for African American youth. Her understanding of socio-cultural factors as they relate to the etiology, treatment and prevention of child mental health problems and promotion of child wellbeing have informed her work on a number of federally funded studies.

Dr. Susan Calkins & Dr. Esther Leerkes :We are involved in a collaborative research project School Transitions and Academic Readiness ( funded by NICHD) in which we are examining the extent to which children’s emotional and cognitive development during the preschool period are related to one another and jointly influence children’s social and academic adjustment over the transition to kindergarten.  We focus on the development of children’s emotion understanding, emotion control/regulation, cognitive understanding (e.g., theory of mind), and cognitive control (e.g., working memory, inhibitory control) along with relevant parenting and contextual factors. We collect a mix of observational, physiological and parent report data.

Early Childhood Care and Education

Our Early Childhood Care and Education faculty’s research is described below. Click here for a description of our on-going research projects.

Danielle Crosby (Ph.D., University of Texas-Austin) Associate Professor. Dr. Crosby’s research focuses on early childhood development in sociocultural context, examining how factors such as socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, and immigrant status shape young children’s experiences, and the extent to which public policies hinder or promote early childhood development. Several of her projects involve using national longitudinal data to examine these issues; current topics include the predictors of school readiness among Black immigrant children, the impact of maternal nonstandard work hours on children’s access to early care and education, and the effects of public assistance programs on the health and development of young children in low-income families. Dr. Crosby is also currently a collaborator on two federally-funded projects: one focused on understanding Head Start impacts for a national sample of children, and one focused on developing a new measure of early childhood program quality for use in state TQRIS efforts. Email:

Linda Hestenes (Ph.D., Purdue University) Associate Professor; Co-Director of BK Programs and Co-Director of the NC Rated License Assessment Project. Dr. Hestenes’ research interests center on measuring quality in child care programs both indoors and outdoors, the impact of outdoor quality and environments on young children’s behavior and development, early childhood teacher preparation, high quality inclusive environments for young children, and teacher-child interactions. She currently has two funded projects (the North Carolina Rated License Assessment Project and the Race to the Top: Measurement Development Project) and is involved in a project examining the play value of outdoor public spaces for children. Email:

Karen La Paro (Ph.D., University of New Orleans) Associate Professor.  Dr. La Paro’s research interests focus on assessing the quality of early childhood classrooms from infancy through kindergarten and the development of effective teachers.  Her current research projects examine the relationship between practicum students and cooperating teachers, teacher language use in the classroom as it relates to CLASS dimensions, and teacher beliefs and attitudes as they change over time.   She is also studying the supervision of student teaching experiences at the national level through the National Center for Research on Early Childhood Education (NCRECE), and is working on the development of a multi-tiered measure of quality to be used in TQRIS with the Race to the Top: Measurement Development Project. Email:

Catherine Scott-Little (Ph.D., University of Maryland at College Park) Associate Professor: Dr. Scott-Little’s research interests relate to early childhood policy and to professional preparation of early childhood educators. She currently is co-directing five funded projects that are designed to improve the quality of early learning standards for states across the nation, and is actively involved in policy initiatives in North Carolina and several other states. In addition, Dr. Scott-Little’s research projects include a national study on higher education programs that is being conducted through the National Center for Research on Early Childhood Education (NCRECE), and she is working with faculty from the Department of Specialized Education to develop a new tool that can be used to improve the screening process for Spanish-speaking preschool children. Email: