David Purpura, PhD

Research Interests

Preschool mathematics and reading, home numeracy and literacy environments, mathematics learning for dual language learners, behavioral and cognitive development, interventions for children at-risk of later mathematics difficulties


I joined the Purdue faculty in the fall of 2012 after completing a US Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois in the College of Education. I received my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Florida State University in 2010. You could say that I study the ABCs of the 123s! In my research, I focus on understanding how young children in preschool through 3rd grade learn math and how to identify children at-risk for later math difficulties. My current focus is on developing and evaluating interventions using picture books and games to support preschool children's early mathematics skills. Over the last several years, and in collaboration with a professional author and illustrator, we've developed a series of six picture books with math concepts embedded in them. Through intervention studies funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation and the National Science Foundation we're currently evaluating how these books can be used to improve the early mathematics skills of monolingual English speakers and dual language learners (Spanish/English). In my lab we also study the home numeracy and literacy environment and how home factors affect children’s academic skills at preschool entry.

In the News

Lafayette Journal
& Courier
Coronavirus: Greater Lafayette parents adjust to e-learning with children home for the rest of the school year
Purdue News
No more school: Realistic ways for parents and families to cope, find balance while together at home
Purdue News
Realistic ways for parents and families to cope with being stuck at home
WXIN/Full Steam Ahead Podcast (Indianapolis)
Full Steam Ahead Podcast Episode 45 - Read Across America Day
Lafayette Journal
& Courier
Purdue marks record Fulbright Scholars haul on campus
Purdue News
Purdue receives recognition by Chronicle of Higher Education for Fulbright Scholars
Purdue News
Do some children really hear 30 million more words than others?
Purdue News
Purdue breaks its record with faculty Fulbright Scholars
Purdue News
Three Purdue professors win awards for early career achievement, innovation
Purdue News
Engaging children in math at home equals a boost in more than just math skills
Purdue News
Empowering preschool children with the language of math adds up to stronger skills

Selected Publications

  • Purpura, D. J., Schmitt, S. A., Napoli, A. R., Dobbs-Oates, J., King, Y. A., Hornburg, C. B., Westerberg, L., Borriello, G., Bryant, L., Anaya, L., Kung, M., Litkowski, E. C., Lin, J., & Rolan, E. (in press). Engaging parents and children in picture books: A family-implemented mathematical language intervention. Journal of Educational Psychology. 

  • Lin, J., Napoli, A. R., Schmitt, S. A., & Purpura, D. J. (2021). The relation between parent ratings and direct assessments of preschoolers’ numeracy skills. Learning and Instruction, 71, 101375.

  • Westerberg, L., Litkowski, E. C., Finders, J. K., Gerde, H. K., Duncan, R. J., Schmitt, S. A., & Purpura, D. J. (2021). Concurrent predictors of science core knowledge in preschool. Cognitive Development, 100981.

  • King, Y. A., & Purpura, D. J. (2021). The home numeracy environment and early math skills: Math language as a mediator. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 54, 252-259.

  • Litkowski, E., Duncan, R., Logan, J., & Purpura, D. J. (2020). Alignment between children’s numeracy performance, the Kindergarten Common Core State Standards for math, and state level early learning standards. AERA Open, 6, 2332858420968546.

  • Kung, M., Stolz, K., Lin, J., Foster, M., Schmitt, S. A., & Purpura, D. J. (2020). The home numeracy environment and measurement of numeracy performance in English and Spanish in Dual Language Learners. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 0271121420942588. 

  • Purpura, D. J., King, Y. A., Rolan, E., Hornburg, C. B., Schmitt, S. A., Hart, S. A., & Ganley, C. M. (2020). Examining the factor structure of the home mathematics environment to delineate its role in predicting preschool numeracy, mathematical language, and spatial skills. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1925.

  • Litkowski, E. C., Duncan, R., Logan, J., & Purpura, D. J. (2020). When do preschoolers learn specific mathematics skills? Mapping the development of early numeracy knowledge. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 195, 104846. 

  • Purpura, D. J. (2019). Language clearly matters; methods matter too. Child Development, 90, 1839-1846.

  • Purpura, D. J., Litkowski, E. C., & Knopik, V. (2019). Mathematics and reading develop together in young children: Practical and policy considerations. Policy Insights from the Brain and Behavioral Sciences, 6, 12-20.

  • Hornburg, C., Schmitt, S. A., & Purpura, D. J. (2018). Relations between preschoolers’ mathematical language understanding and specific numeracy skills. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 176, 84-100.

  • Napoli, A. R., & Purpura, D. J. (2018). The home literacy and numeracy environment in preschool: Cross-domain relations of parent-child practices and child outcomes. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 166, 581-603.

  • Purpura, D. J., & Simms, V. (2018). Approximate Number System development in preschool: What factors predict change? Cognitive Development, 45, 31-39.

  • Purpura, D. J., Day, E., Napoli, A. R., & Hart, S. A. (2017). Identifying domain-general and domain-specific predictors of low mathematics performance: A classification and regression tree analysis. Journal of Numerical Cognition, 3, 365-399.

  • Purpura, D. J., Logan, J. A. R., Hassinger-Das, B., & +Napoli, A. R. (2017). Why do early mathematics skills predict later reading? The role of mathematical language. Developmental Psychology, 53, 1633–1642.

  • Purpura, D. J., +Napoli, A. R., +Wehrspann, E. A., & +Gold, Z. S. (2017). Causal connections between mathematical language and mathematical knowledge: A dialogic reading intervention. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 10, 116-137.

  • Purpura, D. J., Schmitt, S. A., & Ganley, C. M. (2017). Foundations of mathematics and literacy: The role of executive functioning components. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 153, 15-34.

  • Thompson, R. J., Napoli, A. R., & Purpura, D. J. (2017). Age-related differences in the relation between the home numeracy environment and numeracy skills. Infant and Child Development, e2019.

  • Hart, S. A., Ganley, C. M., & Purpura, D. J. (2016). Understanding the home math environment and its role in predicting parent report of children’s math skills. PLoS One, 11, e0168227.

  • Purpura, D. J., & Reid, E. E. (2016). Mathematics and language: Individual and group differences in mathematical language skills in young children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26, 259-268.

  • Purpura, D. J., & Logan, J. A. R. (2015). The non-linear relations between the approximate number system and mathematical language to symbolic mathematics. Developmental Psychology, 51, 1717-1724.

  • Purpura, D. J., & Lonigan, C. J. (2015). Early numeracy assessment: The development of the preschool early numeracy scales. Early Education and Development, 26, 286-313.

  • Purpura, D. J., & +Napoli, A. R. (2015). Early numeracy and literacy: Untangling the relation between specific components. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 17, 197-218.

  • Purpura, D. J., Reid, E. E., Eiland, M. D., & Baroody, A. J. (2015). Using a brief preschool early numeracy skills screener to identify young children with mathematics difficulties. School Psychology Review, 44, 41-59.

  • Purpura, D. J., & Ganley, C. (2014). Working memory and language: Skill-specific or domain-general relations to mathematics? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 122, 104-121.

  • Purpura, D. J., Baroody, A. J., & Lonigan, C. J. (2013). The transition from informal to formal mathematical knowledge: Mediation by numeral knowledge. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105, 453-464.

  • Purpura, D. J., & Lonigan, C. J. (2013). Informal numeracy skills: The structure and relations among numbering, relations, and arithmetic operations in preschool. American Educational Research Journal, 50, 178-209.

  • Purpura, D. J., Hume, L., Sims, D., & Lonigan, C. J. (2011). Early literacy and early numeracy: The value of including early literacy skills in the prediction of numeracy development. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 110, 647-658.


  • 2010 – 2012  Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • 2010              PhD, Clinical Psychology, Florida State University

  • 2007              MS, Clinical Psychology, Florida State University

  • 2005              BA, Psychology, Purdue University

David Purpura

Associate Professor

Pronouns (he/him/his)

Courtesy Appointment:
   Psychological Sciences

Faculty Associate:
   Advanced Methods at Purdue,
   Center for Families
   Center for Early Learning

  Co-Director, Center for Early Learning

(PhD, Florida State University)

Fowler Memorial House, Room 223
Purdue University
1200 West State St.
West Lafayette, Indiana  47907-2055

Phone: 765-494-2947
Fax: 765-496-1144



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Curriculum Vitae

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