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 Ph.D. student Zachary Gold young children's engagement with the engineering design process as they play with blocks and other materials.

Recent Publications

  • 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.

  • 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

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