Ellen Litkowski, PhD

Research Interests

School readiness, executive function, preschoolers’ scientific reasoning, the caregiving environment and its role in early child development, poverty


  • 2017 – Ph.D., Educational Psychology, Georgia State University

  • 2015 – M.S., Educational Psychology, Georgia State University

  • 2011 – B.S., Biology and English, Duke University


After graduating from Duke University in 2011 with a degree in Biology and English and a passion for teaching and science outreach, I joined the Literacy AmeriCorps of Palm Beach County, where I provided reading instruction and tutoring in a preschool and after-school setting for students whose parents were migrant farmworkers. Through my work with AmeriCorps, I became interested in the intersection of psychology and learning and decided to pursue a graduate degree in Educational Psychology. Returning to my roots in science education, I joined a lab which focused on understanding the acquisition of science knowledge and the development of scientific thinking. My Master’s thesis investigated the contribution of early, child-level components (e.g., inhibitory control, social-emotional competency) to preschoolers’ scientific reasoning. Broadening my research to focus on another school readiness component – executive function (EF) – and to understand how a child’s surrounding environment influences his/her cognitive development, my dissertation investigated how parents’ and caregivers’ beliefs and behaviors affect children’s EF.

I began my postdoctoral work with Dr. David Purpura in August of 2017 to work on the ISTAR-KR Enhancement Project - a project funded by the State of Indiana and Early Learning Indiana that focuses on content review and psychometric testing of Indiana’s current kindergarten readiness assessment. It is my hope to continue conducting research that investigates underlying contextual and environmental factors that contribute to all areas of children’s early school readiness. In tackling a multifaceted issue like school readiness, I hope to pursue translational developmental science research with educational and health implications for young children.


  • Litkowski, E., & Kruger, A. C. (2017). Parents’ and teachers’ beliefs about school readiness. In I. L. Rubin & J. Merrick (Eds.), Public health: An ecological framework for child environmental health interventions. Nova Science Publishers.

  • Litkowski, E., & Kruger, A. C. (2017). Parents’ and teachers’ beliefs about school readiness: Working toward developing more culturally-relevant interventions. International Public Health Journal, 9(2).

  • Renken, M., Carrion, C., & Litkowski, E. (2014). Targeting students’ epistemologies: Instructional and assessment challenges to inquiry-based education. In J. M. Carfora & P. Blessinger (Eds.), Inquiry-based learning: A conceptual and practical resource for educators. Emerald Publishing.

  • Goldin, I., Renken, M., Galyardt, A., & Litkowski, E. (2014). Individual differences in identifying sources of science knowledge. In C. Rensing, S. de Freitas, T. Ley, & P. J. Muñoz-Merino (Eds.), Open learning and teaching educational communities, 152-164.

  • Litkowski, E., & Renken, M. (2013). Trusting what you’re told: How children learn from others, by Paul L. Harris. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, USA, 2012. 253 pp. ISBN 978-0-674-06572-7: BOOK REVIEWS. Science Education, 97(5), 797-799. doi: 10.1002/sce.21063 (invited)

  • Chen, J., Jiang, A., Litkowski, E., et. al. (2011). Females Excelling More in Math, Engineering, and Science (FEMMES): An after-school STEM program for girls that fosters hands-on learning and female-to-female mentorship. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 313-324.

  • Shuen, J., Elia, A., Xu, K., Chen, J., Jiang, A., Litkowski, E., et. al. (2011). FEMMES: A one day mentorship program to engage 4th-6th grade girls in STEM activities. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 295-312.

Ellen Litkowski
Postdoctoral Researcher

(PhD, Georgia State University)

Hanley Hall, Room 325A
Purdue University
1200 West State St.
West Lafayette, Indiana  47907-2055

Phone: 765-494-2932
Fax: 765-494-1144

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

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