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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, investigating children's learning as they play with large "loose parts."

Recent Publications

  • Lahti, M., Elicker, J., Zellman, G., & Fiene, R. (in press). Approaches to validating child care quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS): Results from two states with similar QRIS type designs. Early Childhood Research Quarterly.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Elicker, J., & McMullen, M. B. (2013). Appropriate and meaningful assessment in family-centered infant toddler programs. Young Children, 68(3), 22-27.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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, Biology, 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 Paths to QUALITY, the Indiana Child Care Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS): Phase 2. Indiana Family and Social Services Administration-Child Care Bureau. October 1, 2012-September 30, 2016. ($705,609; PI).
  • Improving Adult-Child Interactions in Child Care. Issue Based Action Team (IBAT) Grant, Purdue University Extension Service. July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013. ($17,083; PI).
  • Children's Social Competence and Engineering Play in the Imagination Playground. August 15, 2012-August 14, 2013. KaBOOM! Foundation. ($25,000; Co-PI, with Professor Demetra Evangelou, Engineering Education.)
  • Church Sponsored Child Care: Association of Regulatory Level with Quality for Young Children. Child Care Research Scholars Program. October 1, 2011-September 30, 2012. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation. ($24,930; PI, with graduate student Joellen Lewsader).

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