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 40 years, beginning as a Head Start teacher in the 1970's. Most of his current research is focused on evaluating the effectiveness of large-scale quality improvement efforts in early care and education. 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 with Zachary Gold of Concordia University, young children's engagement with the engineering design process as they play with blocks and other materials.

Recent Publications

  • Gold, Z. S.*, & Elicker, J. (in press). Engineering peer play: A new perspective on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) early childhood education. In A. Ridgeway, G. Quiñones, & L. Li (Eds.), Peer play and development in early childhood: International research narratives. New York, NY: Springer.

  • Gold,  Z. S.*, Elicker, J., & Beaulieu, B. A. (in press). Supporting “engineering play” in preschool: A play-based approach to STEM learning. Young Children.

  • Elicker, J., & Ruprecht, K.* (in press). Child care quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS): A national experiment in improving quality. In C. P. Brown, M. B. McMullen & N. K. File (Eds.), Handbook of early childhood care and education. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

  • Elicker, J., & McMullen, M. B.  (2018). Appropriate and meaningful assessment in family-centered infant toddler programs. In H. Bohart & R. Procopio (Eds.). Spotlight on young children: Observation and assessment.  Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

  • Ruprecht, K.*, Elicker, J., & Choi, J. Y.* (2018). Continuity of care, caregiver–child interactions, and toddler social competence and problem behaviors. In D. J. Norris & D. M. Horm (Eds.), Group care for infants, toddlers, and twos. New York: Routledge.

  • Schlesinger-Devlin, E., Elicker, J., & Anderson, T.* (2016). Researcher-teacher collaboration in applied research in a university laboratory school. In N. Barbour & B. A. McBride (Eds.), The future of child development laboratory schools: Applied developmental science in action. New York: Routledge.

  • Choi, J. Y.*, Elicker, J., Christ, S., & Dobbs-Oates, J. (2016). Predicting growth trajectories in early academic learning: Evidence from growth curve modeling with Head Start children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 36(3), 244-258.  doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2015.12.017

  • Ruprecht, K.*, Elicker, J., & Choi, J. Y.* (2016). Continuity of care, caregiver–child interactions, and toddler social competence and problem behaviors. Early Education and Development, 27(2), 221-239.  doi:10.1080/10409289.2016.1102034

  • Gold, Z. S.*, Elicker, J., Choi, J. Y.*, Anderson, T.*, & Brophy, S. P. (2015). Preschoolers’ engineering play behaviors: Differences in gender and play context. Children, Youth and Environments, 25(3), 1-21. doi:10.7721/chilyoutenvi.25.3.0001

  • 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. doi:10.1080/10409289.2012.695519

  • 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.

  • 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

*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

Current Grant Projects

  • 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.

  • 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 – June 30, 2018.

  • Evaluating the Enhanced “Block Party” Training Program: Promoting Preschoolers’ School Readiness.  HHS Extension Grant, Purdue University Extension Service.  April 1, 2016-Aug. 31, 2017.  (Co-PI Zachary Gold)

Professional Service and Experience

  • Governor-appointed Member, Indiana Inter-agency Coordinating Council for Early Intervention, 2012-2015.

  • Co-Founder and Co-Director, Infant-Toddler Specialists of Indiana Professional Development Network, Purdue University and Indiana University, 2005-2011

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

Jim Elicker


Faculty Associate:
   Center for Families

(PhD, University of Minnesota)

Fowler Memorial House, Room 215
Purdue University
1200 West State St.
West Lafayette, Indiana  47907-2055

Phone: 765-494-2938
Fax: 765-494-0503
Indiana Paths to QUALITY
Paths to QUALITY Evaluation Briefs and Technical Reports
On My Way Pre-K

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

2016 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by HDFS

If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact HDFS.