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James Elicker, PhD

Research Interests

Early social-emotional development, child care quality, early childhood program evaluation, caregiver-child relationships, birth-to-three professional development


Jim Elicker is Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Purdue University. He has been a child development researcher, early childhood educator, and program administrator for more than 35 years. He is currently evaluating Paths to QUALITY, Indiana’s child care quality rating system ,and On My Way Pre-K, Indiana’s pre-kindergarten pilot program. He is also investigating children's use of engineering processes as they play with large "loose parts."

Recent Publications

  • Gold, Z. S.*, Elicker, J., Anderson, T.*, Choi, J. Y.*, & Brophy, S. P. (in press). Preschoolers’ engineering play behaviors: Differences in gender and play context. Children, Youth and Environments.
  • Ruprecht, K.*, & Elicker, J. (in press). Continuity of care, caregiver-child interactions, and toddler social competence. Early Education and Development.
  • Elicker, J., & Barbour, N. (Eds.). (2014). University laboratory preschools in the 21st century. New York: Routledge.
  • Elicker, J., Ruprecht, K.*, & Anderson, T.* (2014). Observing infants’ and toddlers’ relationships and interactions in group care. In L. J. Harrison & J. Sumsion (Eds.), Lived spaces of infant-toddler education and care. Dordrecht: Springer.
  • Lahti, M., Elicker, J., Zellman, G., & Fiene, R. (2014). Approaches to validating child care quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS): Results from two states with similar QRIS type designs. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 30,280-290. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2014.04.005
  • Elicker, J., & McMullen, M. B. (2013). Appropriate and meaningful assessment in family-centered infant toddler programs. Young Children, 68(3), 22-27.
  • Elicker, J., Ruprecht, K. M.*, Langill, C., Lewsader, J.*, Anderson, T.*, & Brizzi, M. (2013). Paths to QUALITY™: Collaborative evaluation of a new child care quality rating and improvement system. Early Education and Development, 24, 42-62. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2013.736127
  • Elicker, J., Wen, X.*, Kwon, K.*, & Sprague, J. B.* (2013). Early Head Start relationships: Associations with program outcomes. Early Education and Development, 24, 491-516.
  • Kwon, K.*, Bingham, G. E., Lewsader, J.*, Jeon, H., & Elicker, J. (2013). Structured task vs. free play: The influence of social context on parenting quality, toddlers’ engagement with parents and play behaviors, and parent-toddler language use. Child and Youth Care Forum. doi:10.1007/s10566-013-9198-x
  • Kwon, K.*, Jeon, H., & Elicker, J. (2013). Links among coparenting quality, parental control, and toddlers' social emotional competence: Testing three process models. Journal of Family Studies, 19, 2596-2635. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.5172/jfs.2013.2596
  • Lewsader, J.*, & Elicker, J. (2013). Church sponsored child care: Association of regulatory level with quality. Journal of International Child Care and Education Policy, 7(2), 67-88.
  • Elicker, J., & Barbour, N. (2012). Introduction to the special issue: University laboratory schools in the 21st century. Early Education and Development, 21, 157-159. doi:10.1080/10409289.2012.649665
  • Kwon, K.*, & Elicker, J. (2012). The role of mothers' and fathers' parental control and coparenting in toddlers' compliance. Early Education and Development, 23, 748-765. doi:10.1080/10409289.2011.588042
  • Kwon, K.*, Jeon, H., Lewsader, J.*, & Elicker, J. (2012). Mothers' and fathers' parenting quality and toddlers' interactive behaviours in dyadic and triadic family contexts. Infant and Child Development, 21(4), 356-373. doi: 10.1002/icd.1746
  • McBride, B., Groves, M., Barbour, N., Horm, D., Stremmel, A., Lash, M., Bersani, C., Ratekin, C., Moran, J., Elicker, J., & Toussaint, S. (2012). Child development laboratory schools as generators of knowledge in early childhood education: Models and approaches. Early Education and Development, 23(2), 153-164. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2012.651068
  • Elicker, J., & Thornburg, K. R. (2011). Evaluation of quality rating and improvement systems for early childhood programs and school-age care: Measuring children’s development. Research-to-Policy, Research-to-Practice Brief, OPRE 2011-11c. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Kwon, K.*, & Elicker, J. (2011). Social IEP objectives, teacher talk, and peer interaction in inclusive and segregated preschool settings. Early Childhood Education Journal, 39, 267-277 doi: 10.1007/s10643-011-0469-6
  • Wen, X.*, Elicker, J., & McMullen, M.B. (2011). Early childhood teachers’ curriculum beliefs: Are they consistent with observed classroom practices? Early Education and Development, 22, 945-969. DOI: 10.1080/10409289.2010.507495
  • Rose, K.K.*, & Elicker, J. (2010). Maternal child care preferences for infants, toddlers and preschoolers: The disconnect between policy and preference. Community, Work, & Family, 13, 205-229. doi:10.1080/13668800903314366

*graduate student advisee


  • PhD, 1991, Child Psychology, University of Minnesota
  • EdM, 1976, Human Development, Harvard University
  • BS, 1972, Neurobiology & Behavior, Cornell University

Courses Recently Taught

  • HDFS 40900: Science in Preschool and Primary Grades
  • HDFS 41500: Foundations of Early Childhood Education
  • HDFS 42000: Developmental Foundations of Infant-Toddler Curriculum


  • Faculty Engagement Scholar Award. Purdue University, 2013
  • Hoosier Educator of the Year (Higher Education Award). Indiana Association for the Education of Young Children, 2007

Recent External Grants

  • Evaluation of Indiana Early Learning Pilot Grant Program. Indiana Family and Social Services Administration-Office of Early Childhood and Out of School Learning. Feb. 1, 2015-June 30, 2018. ($733,145; PI)
  • Access to Preschool for Military Families Living Overseas. National Institute of Food and Agriculture/Department of Defense. October 1, 2014-September 30, 2015. ($315,127; PI)
  • Evaluation of Paths to QUALITY, the Indiana Child Care Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS): Phase 2. Indiana Family and Social Services Administration-Child Care Bureau. Oct. 1, 2012 – September 30, 2016. ($865,151; PI).
  • Children’s Social Competence and Engineering Play in the Imagination Playground. Aug. 15, 2012 – Aug. 14, 2013. KaBOOM! Organization. ($25,000; Co-PI, with Professor Demetra Evangelou, Engineering Education.)

Professional Service and Experience

  • Governor-appointed Member, Indiana Inter-agency Coordinating Council for Early Intervention
  • Co-Founder, Infant-Toddler Specialists of Indiana Professional Development Network, Purdue University and Indiana University

Editorial Boards

  • Consulting Editor, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 1998-2001
  • Editorial Board Member, Early Education and Development, 1997-present


  • Child Development
  • Contemporary Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Early Child Development and Care
  • Early Childhood Research Quarterly
  • Early Education and Development
  • Early Years: An International Journal of Research and Development
  • International Journal of Behavioural Development
  • Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology
  • Journal of Social and Personal Relationships
  • Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development
  • Teaching and Teacher Education
  • Topics in Early Childhood Special Education