Publications

The publications of lab members are listed below with the reference and an abstract.  Some of our publications are freely available, and therefore are provided as pdf's (in red).  Others are only available by contacting the publisher.

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Temperament Publications

Rudasill, K. M., Prokasky, A., Tu, X., Frohn, S., Sirota, K., & Molfese, V. J. (in press). Parent vs. teacher ratings of children's shyness as predictors of early language and attention skills. Learning and Individual Differences.

Abstract: Shyness in childhood has been linked to multiple adjustment outcomes, including poor peer relations, internalizing problems, and clinical anxiety. However, shyness does not consistently emerge as a negative predictor of children's success. This incongruity may stem, in part, from variations in the operationalization and measurement of shyness in different studies. Researchers often combine parent and teacher ratings of shyness, but correlations between parent and teacher reports are consistently small to medium. The purpose of this study is to examine parent and teacher ratings of shyness as they predict language and attention skills in preschool children, and explore discrepancies between parent and teacher ratings of shyness. Participants were 104 preschool children (48 males, 56 females), enrolled in 22 classrooms. Results from multi-level modeling revealed that teacher, but not parent, ratings of shyness using the shyness subscale of the Children's Behavior Questionnaire (CBQ) were significantly and negatively associated with children's early language and attention skills. Follow-up exploratory factor analyses with parent and teacher CBQ shyness subscale ratings revealed a similar two-factor structure reflecting shyness and low sociability. Results suggest that a) discrepancies between parents' and teachers' views of children's shy behaviors may stem from the different contexts and developmental time periods in which they observe children, and b) teachers' ratings of shyness are more closely associated with children's skills in an academic setting. Implications for research are discussed.


Rudasill, K. M., Pössel, P., Winkeljohn-Black, S., & Niehaus, K. (2014). Teacher support as a mediator of concurrent and longitudinal associations between temperament and depressive symptoms. Early Child Development and Care, 184, 803-818.

 Abstract: The combination of changes occurring at the transition to middle school may be a catalyst for the onset of depressive symptoms, yet teacher support at this transition is protective. Research points to certain temperamental traits as risk factors for developing depressive symptoms.  This study examines student reports of teacher support and teacher reports of student-teacher relationship (STR) quality as mediators of associations between child temperament (i.e., negative emotionality at age 4 ½ and emotional reactivity in elementary grades) and depressive symptoms in 6th grade. Results indicate a) negative emotionality predicted emotional reactivity and depressive symptoms; b) emotional reactivity predicted depressive symptoms; c) students’ perceptions of teacher support (in grade 6) and teachers’ perceptions of STR quality (in grades 4-6) predicted depressive symptoms; d) student-teacher conflict mediated associations between emotional reactivity and depressive symptoms. Findings point to the importance of teacher support and positive STRs during the transition to middle school.

Rudasill, K. M., Niehaus, K., Buhs, E., & White, J. M. (2013). Difficult temperament in early childhood and peer interactions in third grade: The role of teacher-child relationships in early elementary grades. Journal of School Psychology, 51, 701-716. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2013.08.002

Abstract: Children's interactions with peers in early childhood have been consistently linked to their academic and social outcomes. Although both child and classroom characteristics have been implicated as contributors to children's success, there has been scant research linking child temperament, teacher–child relationship quality, and peer interactions in the same study. The purpose of this study is to examine children's early temperament, rated at preschool age, as a predictor of interactions with peers (i.e., aggression, relational aggression, victimization, and prosociality) in third grade while considering teacher–child relationship quality in kindergarten through second grades as a moderator and mediator of this association. The sample (N = 1364) was drawn from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. Results from structural equation models indicated that teacher–child conflict in early elementary grades mediated links between children's temperament and later peer interactions. Findings underscore the importance of considering children's temperament traits and teacher–child relationship quality when examining the mechanisms of the development of peer interactions.


Rudasill, K. M. (2011).  Child temperament, teacher-child interactions, and teacher-child relationships: A longitudinal investigation from first to third grade.  Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26 (2), 147-156.

Abstract: The quality of children’s relationships with teachers in early elementary grades has implications for their academic and behavioral outcomes in later grades (e.g., Hamre & Pianta, 2001). The current study uses data from the NICHD SECCYD to extend work from a recent study of first grade (Rudasill & Rimm-Kaufman, 2009) by examining connections between child shyness, effortful control, and gender and teacher–child relationship quality in third grade directly and indirectly through the frequency of teacher- and child-initiated interactions in third grade, and teacher–child relationship quality in first grade. Path analyses using structural equation models were used to test two different models, one for conflict and one for closeness. Findings reveal five main points: (a) Children’s characteristics (i.e., shyness and effortful control) were related to the frequency of interactions they initiated with their third grade teachers; (b) The number of teacher-initiated interactions with a child in third grade was positively related to teacher perception of conflict, but not closeness, with that child; (c) Teachers’ perceptions of relationship quality and the number of teacher-initiated interactions in first grade predicted teachers’ perceptions of relationship quality and the number of teacher-initiated interactions in third grade; (d) Children’s gender predicted the number of teacher-initiated interactions and teachers’ perceptions of relationship quality in third grade; (e) Teacher–child relationship quality in first grade, and the number of teacher and child-initiated interactions in third grade, mediated associations between children’s characteristics and teacher–child relationship quality in third grade. Findings have implications for future research and training for preservice and practicing teachers.

Molfese, V. J., Rudasill, K. M., Beswick, J. L., Jacobi-Vessels, J. L., Ferguson, M. C., & White, J. M. (2010).  Infant temperament, maternal personality, and parenting stress as contributors to infant developmental outcomes.  Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 56 (1), 49-79.

Abstract: This study examined contributions of maternal personality and infant temperament to infant vocabulary and cognitive development both directly and indirectly through parental stress. Participants were recruited at birth and included 63 infant twin pairs and their mothers. Assessments were completed at 6, 9, 12, and 18 months of age and included Dimensions of Temperament–Revised (maternal personality), Parenting Stress Index (parental stress), Infant Behavior Questionnaire–Revised (infant temperament), Bayley Scales of Infant Development II: Mental Development Index, and MacArthur-Bates Total Vocabulary. Structural equation modeling with a jackknife approach was used to analyze data separately for each twin in the pair. At 12 months, maternal personality and infant temperament contributed indirectly to MacArthur-Bates Total Vocabulary and Bayley Mental Development Index scores through parental stress. In addition, infant temperament directly contributed to 12-month MacArthur-Bates Total Vocabulary. At 18 months, these relationships were no longer significant. The different findings at 12 months compared to 18 months may reflect important developmental and environmental shifts, as well as possible differences in the method and measurements used at each age.

Rudasill, K. M., Gallagher, K. C., & White, J. M. (2010).  Temperamental attention and activity, classroom emotional support, and academic achievement in third grade.  Journal of School Psychology, 48 (2), 113-134.

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to examine the interplay of children’s temperamental attention and activity (assessed when children were 4-and-a-half years old) and classroom emotional support as they relate to children’s academic achievement in third grade. Particular focus is placed on the moderating role of classroom emotional support on the relationship between temperament (attention and activity level) and academic achievement. Regression analyses indicated that children’s attention and activity level were associated with children’s third grade reading and mathematics achievement, and classroom emotional support was associated with children’s third grade reading and mathematics achievement. In addition, classroom emotional support moderated the relation between children’s attention and reading and mathematics achievement, such that attention mattered most for reading and mathematics achievement for children in classrooms with lower emotional support. Findings point to the importance of understanding how children’s temperament and classroom emotional support may work together to promote or inhibit children’s academic achievement.


Rudasill, K. M., Reio, T. G. Jr., Stipanovic, N., & Taylor, J. E. (2010).  A longitudinal study of student-teacher relationship quality, difficult temperament, and risky behavior from childhood to early adolescence.  Journal of School Psychology, 48 (5), 389-412.

Abstract: This study examines the mediating role of student–teacher relationship quality (conflict and closeness) in grades 4, 5, and 6 on the relation between background characteristics, difficult temperament at age 4½ and risky behavior in 6th grade. The longitudinal sample of participants (N = 1156) was from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. Structural equation modeling was used to estimate paths from (a) background characteristics to student–teacher relationship quality and risky behavior, (b) temperament to student–teacher relationship quality and risky behavior, and (c) student–teacher relationship quality to risky behavior. Findings indicate that students’ family income, gender, receipt of special services, and more difficult temperament were associated with risky behavior. In addition, student–teacher conflict was a mediator. Students with more difficult temperaments were more likely to report risky behavior and to have conflict in their relationships with teachers. More conflict predicted more risky behavior. Closer student–teacher relationships were associated with less risky behavior. Results suggest negative relationships, specifically student–teacher relationships, may increase the risk that certain adolescents will engage in risky behavior.

Rudasill, K. M., & Rimm-Kaufman, S. E. (2009).  Teacher-child relationship quality: The roles of child temperament and teacher-child interactions.  Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 24, 107-120.

Abstract: Young children’s relationships with teachers predict social and academic success. This study examines contributions of child temperament (shyness, effortful control) and gender to teacher–child relationship quality both directly and indirectly through the frequency of teacher–child interactions in the classroom. Using an NICHD SECCYD sample of 819 first grade children, four findings emerged: (a) children’s shyness, effortful control, and gender contributed directly to teacher–child conflict and closeness; (b) children’s shyness contributed to the frequency of child-initiated teacher–child interactions, and children’s effortful control contributed to the frequency of teacher-initiated teacher–child interactions; (c) shyness related to teacher–child closeness indirectly through the frequency of child-initiated teacher–child interactions; (d) the frequency of child- and teacher-initiated interactions contributed to each other. Results inform practitioners and researchers of characteristics that put children at risk for failure to form positive relationships with teachers.

Rudasill, K. M., & Konold, T. R. (2008) Contributions of children's temperament to teachers' judgments of social competence from kindergarten through second grade. Early Education and Development, 19 (4), 643-666.

Abstract: Research Findings: Children’s social competence has been linked to successful transition to formal school. The purpose of this study was to examine the contributions of children’s temperament to teachers’ ratings of their social competence from kindergarten through 2nd grade. Children (N = 1,364) from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Early Child Care Research Network participated in this study. Mothers rated children’s shyness, attentional focusing, and inhibitory control with the Children’s Behavior Questionnaire at 4½ years, and teachers rated children’s social competence with three subscales (cooperation, assertion, and self-control) of the Social Skills Rating System at kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade. Latent growth curve analysis indicated that both shyness and effortful control contributed to children’s social competence. Bolder children were likely to have higher assertion ratings, and shyer children with greater attentional focusing were likely to have higher assertion ratings. Shyer children and children with greater inhibitory control and attentional focusing were likely to have higher teacher ratings of self-control and cooperation. Practice or Policy: Findings highlight the importance of considering child temperament characteristics when understanding children’s social competence and successful adjustment to kindergarten. Information may help parents, preschool teachers, and early elementary teachers prepare children who may be at particular risk for lower social competence.


Rudasill, K. M., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Justice, L. M., & Pence, K. (2006).  Temperament and language skills as predicotrs of teacher-child relationship quality in preschool.  Early Education and Development, 17 (2), 271-291.

Abstract: Current educational policy emphasizes “school readiness” of young children with a premium placed on preschool interventions that facilitate academic and social readiness for children who have had limited learning experiences prior to kindergarten (Rouse, Brooks–Gunn, & McLanahan, 2005). The teacher–child relationship is viewed as a critical mechanism for the effectiveness of interventions (Girolametto, Weitzman,&Greenberg, 2003; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Early Child Care Research Network, 2003). The purpose of this study was to determine how children’s temperament and language skills predict teacher–child relationship quality. The sample consisted of 99 at-risk preschool students. Three findings emerged: (a) bolder children with lower language complexity were more likely to have higher levels of conflict in their relationships with teachers, (b) shyer children with greater language complexity were more likely to have dependent relationships with their teachers, and (c) teacher effects accounted for more of the variance in conflictual and dependent teacher–child relationships compared to children’s behavioral inhibition and language complexity. This study shows that teacher–child relationships are multirelational. Individual differences in temperament and language skills affect teacher–child interactions, and ultimately, contribute to the effectiveness of classroom interventions. Such information helps to unpack the complexities of classroom quality by increasing awareness among practitioners of factors contributing to positive teacher–child relationships.



School Publications

Rudasill, K. M., Niehaus, K., Crockett, L., & Rakes, C. (in press). Changes in school connectedness and affiliation with deviant peers among sixth-grade students living in high-poverty neighborhoods. Journal of Early Adolescence.

Abstract: This longitudinal study examined associations between changes in School Connectedness and changes in Affiliation With Deviant Peers among students from high-poverty backgrounds during the year immediately following the transition to middle school. Sixth-graders (N = 328) attending two middle schools in a large school district completed measures of School Connectedness and Affiliation With Deviant Peers at three points across the year. Results from parallel process modeling showed that students’ reports of School Support significantly declined across the school year, School Support and Affiliation With Deviant Peers were negatively associated at the beginning of the school year, and students who reported more declines in School Support were more likely to report growth in Affiliation With Deviant Peers across sixth grade. Gender differences were also found. Findings suggest that School Connectedness may be important for high-poverty students following the transition to middle school.


Jacobi-Vessels, J.L., Brown, E.T., Molfese, V.J., Do, A. (2014) Teaching Preschoolers to Count: Effective Strategies for Achieving Early Mathematics Milestones. Early Childhood Education Journal. DOI: 10.1007/s10643-014-0671-4

Abstract Attention to early childhood mathematics instructional strategies has sharpened due to the relatively poor mathematics performance of U.S. students in comparison to students from other countries and research evidence that early mathematics skills impact later achievement. Early Childhood counting skills form the foundation for subsequent mathematics learning. In this article, we discuss the milestones of counting development and examine preschool classroom mathematics observations through the lenses of two CLASS Dimensions, Concept Development and Instructional Learning Formats. Recommendations for effective instructional strategies around counting and suggestions for incorporating mathematics instruction into storybook reading are provided.


Jones, V.F., Brown, E.T., Molfese, V., Ferguson, M.C., Jacobi-Vessels, J., Bertsch, C., Abraham, T., and Davis, D. W. (2014) The development and initial assessment of Reach Out and Read Plus Mathematics for use in primary care pediatrics. Early Childhood Development and Care. DOI:10.1080/03004430.2014.950261

Abstract: Children from low-income families are often not well-prepared for kindergarten entry, especially in mathematical skills. Caregivers may lack the knowledge and confidence to teach early mathematical skills. The purpose of this study was to develop a parent–child activities-based mathematics learning programme and test its acceptability and initial efficacy. The evidence- based Reach Out and Read (ROR) programme was adapted to incorporate mathematics content. ROR plus Mathematics (ROR+M) was developed and introduced during well-child visits. Descriptive and repeated-measures analysis of variance analyses were used to evaluate pre- and three weekly post- intervention assessments. Results: Parents self-reported acceptability and initial efficacy of the ROR+M programme was demonstrated. No change was reported in non-mathematical reading behaviour. ROR+M was developed and implemented in a primary care paediatric setting serving primarily low-income families. Acceptability and initial efficacy was demonstrated. Randomised clinical trials are needed before widespread implementation.


Rudasill, K. M., Pössel, P., *Winkeljohn-Black, S., & Niehaus, K. (2014). Teacher support as a mediator of concurrent and longitudinal associations between temperament and depressive symptoms.Early Child Development and Care, 184, 803-818. 

Abstract: The combination of changes occurring at the transition to middle school may be a catalyst for the onset of depressive symptoms, yet teacher support at this transition is protective. Research points to certain temperamental traits as risk factors for developing depressive symptoms.  This study examines student reports of teacher support and teacher reports of student-teacher relationship (STR) quality as mediators of associations between child temperament (i.e., negative emotionality at age 4 ½ and emotional reactivity in elementary grades) and depressive symptoms in 6th grade. Results indicate a) negative emotionality predicted emotional reactivity and depressive symptoms; b) emotional reactivity predicted depressive symptoms; c) students’ perceptions of teacher support (in grade 6) and teachers’ perceptions of STR quality (in grades 4-6) predicted depressive symptoms; d) student-teacher conflict mediated associations between emotional reactivity and depressive symptoms. Findings point to the importance of teacher support and positive STRs during the transition to middle school.


Ryoo, J.H., Molfese, V.J., Heaton, R., Zhou, X., Brown, E. T., Prokasky, A., and Davis, E. (2014) Early Mathematics Skills From Prekindergarten to First Grade: Score Changes and Ability Group Differences in Kentucky, Nebraska, and Shanghai Samples. Journal of Advanced Academics. DOI: 10.1177/1932202X14538975

Abstract: The 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study shows average mathematics scores of U.S. fourth graders are lower than children in many Asian countries. There are questions about differences in mathematics skills at younger ages. This study examines differences in score growth for High-, Average-, and Low- performing children in two U.S. states and one city in China. The samples are not representative of site populations and are different in socioeconomic status (SES). Test of Early Mathematics Ability–3 (TEMA-3; Ginsburg & Baroody, 2003) scores were obtained at four time points from the longitudinal samples. Children in Shanghai had higher scores than children in Kentucky and Nebraska; the majority of children in Shanghai scored in the High group, whereas most children in Kentucky and Nebraska were in the Average group. The best fitting growth models were nonlinear and the growth patterns varied across samples. More research is needed to understand how classroom instruction, home environments, parenting, and SES impact growth of TEMA-3 scores.


Pössel, P., Rudasill, K. M., Adelson, J. A.,*Wooldridge, D., *Bjerg, A., & *Winkeljohn Black, S. (2013). The Teaching Behavior Questionnaire: Factor structure and reliability of an instrument to measure student-reported teaching behavior. International Journal of Emotional Education, 5, 5-30.

Abstract: Teaching behavior has important implications for students’ emotional well-being. Multiple models suggest students’ perceptions of teaching behaviors are more critical than other measures for predicting well-being, yet student-report instruments that measure concrete and specific teaching behavior are limited. The purpose of the present studies is to develop an instrument to assess students’ perceptions of concrete and specific teaching behavior and to test which teaching behavior is associated students’ well-being. Construct validity and internal consistency for the 37-item Teaching Behavior Questionnaire (TBQ-S), composed of instructional, negative teaching, socioemotional, and organizational behavior were examined using data from two independent samples (Study 1: n = 703; Study 2: n = 822). The factor structure was stable across both samples and internal consistencies ranged from .77 to .97. Results indicated student-ratings of teaching behavior were associated with positive and negative affect in students.


Pössel, P., Rudasill, K. M., Sawyer, M. G., Spence, S. H., & *Bjerg, A. C. (2013). Associations between teacher emotional support and depressive symptoms in Australian adolescents.Developmental Psychology, 49, 2135-2146. doi: 10.1037/a0031767

Abstract: Approximately 1/5 of adolescents develop depressive symptoms. Given that youths spend a good deal of their lives at school, it seems plausible that supportive relationships with teachers could benefit their emotional well-being. Thus, the purpose of this study is to examine the association between emotionally supportive teacher relationships and depression in adolescence. The so-called principle-effect and stress-buffer models could explain relationships between teacher emotional support and depressive symptoms, yet no study has used both models to test bidirectional relationships between teacher support and depressive symptoms in students separately by sex. Four-thousand three-hundred forty-one students (boys: n 2,063; girls: n 2,278) from Grades 8 to 12 completed the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), List of Threatening Experiences Questionnaire (LTEQ), and an instrument developed for the study to measure teacher support annually for 5 years. Results support neither of the 2 proposed models. Instead, they indicate that in the 1st years of high school, students of both sexes with average and high numbers of stressful events benefit from teacher support, while teacher support might have iatrogenic effects on students experiencing low numbers of stressful events. Possible explanations for the findings and future research are discussed.


Rudasill, K. M., Adelson, J. A., Callahan, C. M., *Keizer, B. M., & *Houlihan, D. (2013). Gifted students’ perceptions of parenting styles: Associations with cognitive ability, sex, race, and age. Gifted Child Quarterly, 57, 15-24.

Abstract: Children whose parents are warm and responsive yet also set limits and have reasonable expectations for their children tend to have better outcomes than their peers whose parents show less warmth and responsiveness, have low expectations, or both. Parenting behavior is related to family race and children’s sex, age, and cognitive ability. However, there is no work that examines how children’s cognitive abilities are related to their perceptions of their mothers’ and fathers’ parenting styles and the extent to which these relationships are moderated by race, sex, and age in a sample of gifted students. Participants (N  = 332, ages 9-17 years) attended a summer residential program for gifted students and completed the Parental Authority Questionnaire and the verbal battery of the Cognitive Abilities Test. Three main findings emerged. First, factor analyses provided support for the use of the Parent Authority Questionnaire with gifted populations. Second, findings from regression analyses as well as examinations of mean differences by cognitive ability level were consistent with earlier studies suggesting that more cognitively able students were likely to perceive their parents as employing a flexible (i.e., authoritative) parenting style. Finally, consonant with earlier studies with nonidentified populations, age, sex, and race were associated with parenting styles as reported by this group of identified gifted students. Results provide further support for the notion that authoritative parenting promotes positive outcomes for children, particularly those who have been identified as gifted.


Rudasill, K. M., *Gonshak, A. B., Pössel, P., *Nichols, A., & Stipanovic, N. (2013). Assessments of student-teacher relationships in residential treatment center schools. Journal for the Education of Students Placed at Risk, 18, 193-211.

Abstract Students in residential treatment center (RTC) schools are likely to have histories of extreme or ongoing relational trauma (e.g., abuse and neglect by primary caregivers), have substantial interpersonal and relationship problems, and exhibit many high-risk behaviors. Accordingly, these students may have particular difficulty forming positive relationships with teachers, yet student–teacher relationship quality in RTC schools has not been empirically studied. This study examines links between RTC school students' assessments of their relationships with teachers and their perceptions of self and others. Participants were 113 students in 2 RTC schools from 5th to 12th grade. Results indicate that male and female RTC students' positive perceptions (of self and others) are linked to positive assessments of their relationships with teachers. However, for girls in RTC schools, negative perceptions of self are linked to less positive assessments of the teacher–student relationship. Implications are discussed.


Rudasill, K. M., Niehaus, K., Buhs, E., & *White, J. M. (2013). Difficult temperament in early childhood and peer interactions in third grade: The role of teacher-child relationships in early elementary grades. Journal of School Psychology, 51, 701-716. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2013.08.002

Abstract Children's interactions with peers in early childhood have been consistently linked to their academic and social outcomes. Although both child and classroom characteristics have been implicated as contributors to children's success, there has been scant research linking child temperament, teacher–child relationship quality, and peer interactions in the same study. The purpose of this study is to examine children's early temperament, rated at preschool age, as a predictor of interactions with peers (i.e., aggression, relational aggression, victimization, and prosociality) in third grade while considering teacher–child relationship quality in kindergarten through second grades as a moderator and mediator of this association. The sample (N = 1364) was drawn from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. Results from structural equation models indicated that teacher–child conflict in early elementary grades mediated links between children's temperament and later peer interactions. Findings underscore the importance of considering children's temperament traits and teacher–child relationship quality when examining the mechanisms of the development of peer interactions.


LoCasale-Crouch, J., Rudasill, K. M., Sweeney, B. D., Chattrabhuti, C., Patton, C., & Pianta, R. (2012).  The transition to kindergarten: Fostering connections for early school success.  Advances in Motivation and Achievement, 17 (1), 1-26.

Abstract: Developmental science and school research identify children’s transition to kindergarten as a sensitive period with significant implications for formal school success.  In this chapter, we present evidence that a successful transition to kindergarten requires more than ensuring that children have requisite ccompetencies. Instead, we present an ecological model that conceptualizes smooth transitions from pre-kindergarten to kindergarten as a function of linkages between systems, such as connections between schools and families and between pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers and classrooms, especially those made during prior to kindergarten entry.


Niehaus, K., Rudasill, K. M., & Adelson, J. L. (2012).  Self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation, and academic outcomes among latino middle school students participating in an after-school program.  Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Science, 34 (1), 118-136.

Abstract: This longitudinal study examined how academic self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation, and participation in an after-school program contributed to the academic achievement of Latino middle school students over the course of one school year. Participants were 47 Latino students in sixth through eighth grades who attended two public middle schools in which an after-school program was held that was specifically for Latino students. Results from ordinary least squares regression revealed that intrinsic motivation was positively associated with students GPAs, self-efficacy was a positive predictor of students’ school attendance and standardized math achievement scores, and attendance at the after-school program also contributed positively to students’ math achievement. Results from multilevel growth modeling showed that students’ self-efficacy and intrinsic motivation remained stable across the school year and were not related to students’ degree of participation in the after-school program. Several avenues for future research within the Latino student population are discussed.


Niehaus, K., Rudasill, K. M., & Rakes, C. R. (2012). A longitudinal study of school connectedness and academic outcomes across sixth grade.  Journal of School Psychology, 50, 443-460.

Abstract: The current longitudinal study examines the extent to which school connectedness (i.e., students' perceptions of school support and the number of adults with whom they have a positive relationship) is associated with academic outcomes across sixth grade for students from high poverty neighborhoods. Data were collected from 330 sixth-grade students attending two middle schools in a large public school district. Specifically, students completed a survey to assess their perceived connection to the school environment, and academic information regarding students' grades, attendance, and discipline referrals was obtained from school records. Results from latent growth curve modeling showed that, on average, students' perceptions of school support declined significantly across the sixth-grade year. However, students who reported less decline, or growth, in school support across sixth grade had higher academic achievement at the end of the year than students who reported more decline in school support. Sixth-grade boys were at a greater risk for negative outcomes (i.e., lower school support, lower GPAs, and more discipline referrals) across the school year than girls. Results point to the importance of perceived connectedness to school in helping economically disadvantaged students experience a safe and successful transition to middle school.


Curby, T. W., Rudasill, K. M., Edwards, T, & Perez-Edgar, K. (2011).  The role of classroom quality in ameliorating the academic and social risks associated with difficult temperament.  School Psychology Quarterly 26 (2), 175-188.

Abstract: The present study examines the moderating role first grade classroom quality may have on the relations between children’s difficult temperament (assessed in infancy) and their academic and social outcomes in early elementary school (first grade). Using data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, 1032 children were rated by their mothers at 6 months of age on difficult temperament. The quality of first grade classroom environments were then observed and rated along three domains: emotional support, classroom organization, and instructional support. Regression analyses examined the statistical interactions between
difficult temperament and classroom quality domains on children’s academic and social outcomes. Results indicate high-quality classroom environments may ameliorate the academic and social risks associated with having a difficult temperament.


Molfese, V. J., Beswick, J. L., Jacob-Vessels, J. L., Armstrong, N. E., Culver, B. L., White, J. M., Ferguson, M. C., Rudasill, K. M. & Molfese, D. L. (2011).  Evidence of alphabetic knowledge in writing: Connections to letter and word identification skills in preschool and kindergarten.  Reading and Writing 24 (2), 133-150. (pdf)

Abstract: Abstract The writing skills of 286 children (157 female and 129 male) were studied by comparing name writing and letter writing scores from preschool to kindergarten with letter and word reading scores over the same time period. Two rubrics for scoring writing were compared to determine if scores based on multiple components (i.e., letter formation, orientation on the vertical axis, left–right orientation, and correct letter sequencing) would better reflect differences in children’s writing knowledge in preschool and kindergarten than rubrics composed of one component (i.e., letter formation only). While developmental changes in writing scores were found, little additional information was provided by multiple component scoring rubrics compared to the single component rubric. Letter writing scores were more strongly related to letter and word reading scores than name writing scores but neither writing score was predictive of growth. Implications of the findings for intentional/systematic writing instruction in preschool curricula are discussed.


Rudasill, K. M. (2011).  Child temperament, teacher-child interactions, and teacher-child relationships: A longitudinal investigation from first to third grade.  Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26 (2), 147-156.

Abstract: The quality of children’s relationships with teachers in early elementary grades has implications for their academic and behavioral outcomes in later grades (e.g., Hamre & Pianta, 2001). The current study uses data from the NICHD SECCYD to extend work from a recent study of first grade (Rudasill & Rimm-Kaufman, 2009) by examining connections between child shyness, effortful control, and gender and teacher–child relationship quality in third grade directly and indirectly through the frequency of teacher- and child-initiated interactions in third grade, and teacher–child relationship quality in first grade. Path analyses using structural equation models were used to test two different models, one for conflict and one for closeness. Findings reveal five main points: (a) Children’s characteristics (i.e., shyness and effortful control) were related to the frequency of interactions they initiated with their third grade teachers; (b) The number of teacher-initiated interactions with a child in third grade was positively related to teacher perception of conflict, but not closeness, with that child; (c) Teachers’ perceptions of relationship quality and the number of teacher-initiated interactions in first grade predicted teachers’ perceptions of relationship quality and the number of teacher-initiated interactions in third grade; (d) Children’s gender predicted the number of teacher-initiated interactions and teachers’ perceptions of relationship quality in third grade; (e) Teacher–child relationship quality in first grade, and the number of teacher and child-initiated interactions in third grade, mediated associations between children’s characteristics and teacher–child relationship quality in third grade. Findings have implications for future research and training for preservice and practicing teachers.


Rudasill, K. M., Gallagher, K. C., & White, J. M. (2010).  Temperamental attention and activity, classroom emotional support, and academic achievement in third grade.  Journal of School Psychology, 48 (2), 113-134.

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to examine the interplay of children’s temperamental attention and activity (assessed when children were 4-and-a-half years old) and classroom emotional support as they relate to children’s academic achievement in third grade. Particular focus is placed on the moderating role of classroom emotional support on the relationship between temperament (attention and activity level) and academic achievement. Regression analyses indicated that children’s attention and activity level were associated with children’s third grade reading and mathematics achievement, and classroom emotional support was associated with children’s third grade reading and mathematics achievement. In addition, classroom emotional support moderated the relation between children’s attention and reading and mathematics achievement, such that attention mattered most for reading and mathematics achievement for children in classrooms with lower emotional support. Findings point to the importance of understanding how children’s temperament and classroom emotional support may work together to promote or inhibit children’s academic achievement.


Rudasill, K. M., Reio, T. G. Jr., Stipanovic, N., & Taylor, J. E. (2010).  A longitudinal study of student-teacher relationship quality, difficult temperament, and risky behavior from childhood to early adolescence.  Journal of School Psychology, 48 (5), 389-412.

Abstract: This study examines the mediating role of student–teacher relationship quality (conflict and closeness) in grades 4, 5, and 6 on the relation between background characteristics, difficult temperament at age 4½ and risky behavior in 6th grade. The longitudinal sample of participants (N = 1156) was from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. Structural equation modeling was used to estimate paths from (a) background characteristics to student–teacher relationship quality and risky behavior, (b) temperament to student–teacher relationship quality and risky behavior, and (c) student–teacher relationship quality to risky behavior. Findings indicate that students’ family income, gender, receipt of special services, and more difficult temperament were associated with risky behavior. In addition, student–teacher conflict was a mediator. Students with more difficult temperaments were more likely to report risky behavior and to have conflict in their relationships with teachers. More conflict predicted more risky behavior. Closer student–teacher relationships were associated with less risky behavior. Results suggest negative relationships, specifically student–teacher relationships, may increase the risk that certain adolescents will engage in risky behavior.


Rudasill, K. M., & Rimm-Kaufman, S. E. (2009).  Teacher-child relationship quality: The roles of child temperament and teacher-child interactions.  Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 24, 107-120.

Abstract: Young children’s relationships with teachers predict social and academic success. This study examines contributions of child temperament (shyness, effortful control) and gender to teacher–child relationship quality both directly and indirectly through the frequency of teacher–child interactions in the classroom. Using an NICHD SECCYD sample of 819 first grade children, four findings emerged: (a) children’s shyness, effortful control, and gender contributed directly to teacher–child conflict and closeness; (b) children’s shyness contributed to the frequency of child-initiated teacher–child interactions, and children’s effortful control contributed to the frequency of teacher-initiated teacher–child interactions; (c) shyness related to teacher–child closeness indirectly through the frequency of child-initiated teacher–child interactions; (d) the frequency of child- and teacher-initiated interactions contributed to each other. Results inform practitioners and researchers of characteristics that put children at risk for failure to form positive relationships with teachers.


Wyrick, A. J., & Rudasill, K. M. (2009).  Parent involvement as a predictor of teacher-child relationship quality in third grade.  Early education and devleopment, 20 (5), 845-864.

Abstract: Research Findings: Research on teacher–child relationships is important, as the quality of this relationship is linked to numerous child outcomes in the areas of academic and social functioning. In addition, parent involvement has been identified as a significant factor in the successful development of a child. This study attempted to join these two lines of research by assessing the extent to which teacher–child relationship quality varies as a function of parent involvement. We used a sample of 894 third-grade children, mothers, and teachers from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care. Regression analyses were conducted to examine the relation between teacher–child relationships and parent involvement while controlling for known determinants of teacher–child relationship quality (i.e., gender and income). All variables were significantly related to teacher–child relationship quality. Parent involvement was negatively related to conflict. Furthermore, more parent involvement predicted less teacher– child conflict, but only for children from low-income families. Practice or Policy: The results are discussed in terms of the importance of parent involvement to children’s school adjustment, with specific importance for parents of low-income children.


Brown, E. T., Molfese, V. J., & Molfese, P. (2008).  Preschool student learning in literacy and mathematics: Impacts of teacher experience, qualifications, and beliefs on an at-risk sample.  Journal of education for students placed at risk, 13 (1), 106-126. 

Abstract: Few studies investigating the impacts of teacher characteristics and beliefs about the importance of early skill learning have included measures of children's learning outcomes. This study investigated how teachers' educational attainment, experience, and beliefs impact the development of letter identification and number concepts (enumeration, cardinality, and numeral identification). One hundred thirty-eight 4-year-old children from low-income homes attending public preschool programs were the focus of a study based on findings that early learning is impacted by family characteristics and teachers' perceptions of children's eagerness to learn (West, Demon, & Germino Hausken, 2000). Children's skills were assessed fall and spring, with more change found in spring measures of letter identification than in measures of number concept skills. Teachers' educational attainment was found to strongly influence development of letter identification, with teacher experience a weaker influence. For number concepts, teacher education and experience were equivalent influences. Teachers' beliefs about literacy and mathematics were weakly related to children's learning outcomes, but added to the variance accounted for beyond the influence of teacher education and experience in the development of numeral recognition. More information is needed from studies focusing on children learning across the school year on how structural and process features influence young children's learning.


Rudasill, K. M., & Konold, T. R. (2008) Contributions of children's temperament to teachers' judgments of social competence from kindergarten through second grade. Early Education and Development, 19 (4), 643-666.

Abstract: Research Findings: Children’s social competence has been linked to successful transition to formal school. The purpose of this study was to examine the contributions of children’s temperament to teachers’ ratings of their social competence from kindergarten through 2nd grade. Children (N = 1,364) from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Early Child Care Research Network participated in this study. Mothers rated children’s shyness, attentional focusing, and inhibitory control with the Children’s Behavior Questionnaire at 4½ years, and teachers rated children’s social competence with three subscales (cooperation, assertion, and self-control) of the Social Skills Rating System at kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade. Latent growth curve analysis indicated that both shyness and effortful control contributed to children’s social competence. Bolder children were likely to have higher assertion ratings, and shyer children with greater attentional focusing were likely to have higher assertion ratings. Shyer children and children with greater inhibitory control and attentional focusing were likely to have higher teacher ratings of self-control and cooperation. Practice or Policy: Findings highlight the importance of considering child temperament characteristics when understanding children’s social competence and successful adjustment to kindergarten. Information may help parents, preschool teachers, and early elementary teachers prepare children who may be at particular risk for lower social competence.


Molfese, V. J., Modglin, A. A., Beswick, J. L., Neamon, J. D., Berg, S. A., Berg, J., & Molnar, A. (2006).  Letter knowledge, phonological processing, and print knowledge: Skill development in nonreading preschool children.  Journal of Learning Disabilities, 39 (4), 296-305.

Abstract: Development of reading skills was examined in 4-year-old children from low-income homes attending a pre-kindergarten program. Fall to spring gains in letter identification were examined and compared with skills in phonological processing, rhyme detection, and environmental print, and with performance on a screening tool (Get Ready to Read). It was anticipated that participants might show slow skill development. However, the identification of a large group of children (n=30) who made little or no gains in letter identification compared to their classmates (n=27), whose gains averaged 7 letters, was not anticipated. Fall to spring gains in letter identification correlated with phonological processing, rhyme detection, environmental print, and Get Ready to Read! scores. Age and general cognitive skills influenced performance on some tasks. More knowledge of the characteristics of children who
show the most variations in skill development may lead to insights on using classroom curriculum to focus on skill development.


Rudasill, K. M., Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Justice, L. M., & Pence, K. (2006).  Temperament and language skills as predicotrs of teacher-child relationship quality in preschool.  Early Education and Development, 17 (2), 271-291.

Abstract: Current educational policy emphasizes “school readiness” of young children with a premium placed on preschool interventions that facilitate academic and social readiness for children who have had limited learning experiences prior to kindergarten (Rouse, Brooks–Gunn, & McLanahan, 2005). The teacher–child relationship is viewed as a critical mechanism for the effectiveness of interventions (Girolametto, Weitzman,&Greenberg, 2003; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Early Child Care Research Network, 2003). The purpose of this study was to determine how children’s temperament and language skills predict teacher–child relationship quality. The sample consisted of 99 at-risk preschool students. Three findings emerged: (a) bolder children with lower language complexity were more likely to have higher levels of conflict in their relationships with teachers, (b) shyer children with greater language complexity were more likely to have dependent relationships with their teachers, and (c) teacher effects accounted for more of the variance in conflictual and dependent teacher–child relationships compared to children’s behavioral inhibition and language complexity. This study shows that teacher–child relationships are multirelational. Individual differences in temperament and language skills affect teacher–child interactions, and ultimately, contribute to the effectiveness of classroom interventions. Such information helps to unpack the complexities of classroom quality by increasing awareness among practitioners of factors contributing to positive teacher–child relationships.


Espy, K. A., Molfese, V. J., & DiLalla, L. F. (2001).  Effects of environmental measures on intelligence in young chilren: Growth curve modeling of longitudinal data.  Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 47 (1), 42-73.  (pdf)

Abstract: Effects of different environmental measures on individual intellectual growth patterns were examined in 105 young children participating in a longitudinal study.  Intelligence (Stanford-Binet, 4th edition) was measured at ages 3 through 6 years, and child's environment (HOME and SES) was assessed at age 3 years.  Growth curve analyses revealed that home scores exerted a constant influence on the expected composite, verbal, and nonverbal intellectual skills at each age.  Only SES influenced the rate of growth, specifically nonverbal intellectual skills.  The magnitudes of these effects were moderate, but consistent, regardless of whether age-standardized or subscale raw scores were analyzed.  These findings confirm that HOME and SES scores are more than just different types of measures of the child's environment.


Molfese, V. J., Molfese, D. L., & Modgline, A. A. (2001).  Newborn and preschool predictors of second-grade reading scores: An evaluation of categorical and continuous scores.  Journal of Learning Disabilities, 34 (6), 545-554.

Abstract: Examined how the development of foundation skills in speech perception, language, and short-term memory, and family demographics and activities in the home environment influences reading skill development. Data from 96 Ss participating in a longitudinal study was used. Data included: event-related potential (ERP) measures to synthesized speech taken within 36 hrs of birth; environmental, verbal reasoning, short-term memory, and preschool language measures taken at age 3 yrs; and reading scores (RSs) taken at age 8 yrs. It was hypothesized that measures of specific foundation skills in the preschool period and measures of family demographics and home environment could be used to identify children's reading abilities. As expected, most of the foundation skills were found to be related to and predictive of RSs. ERPs of speech perception and measures of family and home activities and language measures were related to RSs. Verbal short-term memory scores contributed little to the prediction of RSs. These variables influenced the results whether they were used to discriminate reading groups or to predict a continuum of RSs, but there were large differences in the amount of variance accounted for. More variance was accounted for in the group analyses than in the continuum analyses.


Molfese, V. J., DiLalla, L. F., & Lovelace, L. (1996).  Perinatal, home environment, and infant measures as successful predictors of preschool cognitive and verbal abilities.  International Journal of Behavioral Development, 19 (1), 101-119.

Abstract: Investigated the extent to which predictions of preschool cognitive and language performance based on perinatal risk and SES measures could be improved by adding measures of home environment and 1st-year performance on the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. The longitudinal sample of 53 female and 41 male children (aged 3–4 yrs) was subdivided into "low-risk" and "high-risk" groups based on perinatal risk scores. The classification accuracy achieved using the Siegel Risk Index and SES items was high for both risk and age groups. The use of the HOME subscale scores generally resulted in improvements, particularly in classification accuracy. The results show that a variety of perinatal and social-environmental measures are important for predicting child outcomes across different ages and argue for the usefulness of considering individual predictor variables rather than summed predictors in predictive modeling.



Sleep Publications


Nelson, T.D., Lundahl, A., Molfese, D.L., Waford, R.N., Roman, A., Gozal, D., Molfese, V.J., Ferguson, M.C. (2014) Estimating child sleep from parent report of time in bed: development and evaluation of adjustment approaches. Early Childhood Education Journal 39 (6), 624-632. DOI 10.1007/s10643-014-0671-4

Abstract: To develop and evaluate adjustment factors to convert parent-reported time in bed to an estimate of child sleep time consistent with objective measurement. A community sample of 217 children aged 4-9 years (mean age = 6.6 years) wore actigraph wristwatches to objectively measure sleep for 7 days while parents completed reports of child sleep each night. After examining the moderators of the discrepancy between parent reports and actigraphy, 3 adjustment factors were evaluated. Parent report of child sleep overestimated nightly sleep duration by ∼24 min per night relative to actigraphy. Child age, gender, and sleep quality all had small or nonsignificant associations with correspondence between parent report and actigraph. Empirically derived adjustment factors significantly reduced the discrepancy between parent report and objective measurement. Simple adjustment factors can enhance the correspondence and utility of parent reports of child sleep duration for clinical and research purposes.


Molfese, D.L., Ivanenko, A., Fonaryova Key, A., Roman, A., Molfese, V.J., O’Brien, L., Gozal, D., Kota, S., & Hudac, C.M. (2013). A One-Hour Sleep Restriction Impacts Brain Processing in Young Children Across Tasks: Evidence From Event-Related Potentials. Developmental Neuropsychology, 38(5), 317–336

Abstract: The effect of mild sleep restriction on cognitive functioning in young children is unclear, yet sleep loss may impact children’s abilities to attend to tasks with high processing demands. In a preliminary investigation, six children (6.6–8.3 years of age) with normal sleep patterns performed three tasks: attention (“Oddball”), speech perception (consonant–vowel syllables), and executive function (Directional Stroop). Event-related potentials (ERPs) responses were recorded before (Control) and following 1 week of 1-hour per day of sleep restriction. Brain activity across all tasks following Sleep Restriction differed from activity during Control Sleep, indicating that minor sleep restriction impacts children’s neurocognitive functioning.


Molfese, V., Beswick, J., Molnar, A., Jacobi-Vessels, J., & Gozal, D. (2007). The impacts of sleep duration, problem behaviors and health status on letter knowledge in pre-kindergarten children. Child Health and Education: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 1, 41-53. (pdf)

Abstract: This study investigated the impacts of sleep habits, problem behaviors and health status on differential fall-to-spring gains in letter knowledge found in pre-kindergarten children.  Four-year-olds attending pre-kindergarten programs who could identify 0-3 letters at school entry in the fall were studied.  Two groups were created based on letter knowledge in the spring: one composed of children who continued to identify 0-3 letters and the other composed of children who correctly identified 4 or more of 15 letters.  The two groups of children (24 males, 36 females) were matched on age, general cognitive skills, and gender.  Parental reports about the children’s sleep habits, problem behaviors, and health status were obtained using a questionnaire.  Scores were used to differentiate group gains in letter knowledge.  Children making small gains in letter knowledge were characterized by shorter nighttime sleep duration, multiple problem behaviors that parents regarded as very descriptive of their child, and the presence of more than one chronic health problem.


Montgomery-Downs, H. E., Jones, V. F., Molfese, V. J., & Gozal, D. (2003).  Snoring in preschoolers: Associations with sleepiness, ethnicity, and learning.  Clinical Pediatrics, 42 (8), 719-726.

Abstract: Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) in children is associated with poor school performance, with minority children being at increased risk for both conditions. The latter have been attributable to low socio-economic status (SES). To further study these relationships, the contribution of SES to SDB and learning was examined in 1,010 validated questionnaires collected from parents of both white and African-American low-SES preschoolers. Twenty-two percent of disadvantaged preschoolers were reported to be at risk for SDB. These children were more likely to be African American, and had a higher incidence of daytime sleepiness, lower academic performance, and hyperactivity. Maternal education level did not account for these differences.



Other Publications

Mitchell, N. G., Moore, J. B., Bibeau, W. S., & Rudasill, K. M. (2012). Cardiovascular fitness moderates the relations between estimates of obesity and physical self-perceptions in rural elementary school students.  Journal of Physcial Activity and Health, 9, 288-294. (pdf)

Abstract: Background: Levels of physical activity decline throughout childhood. Children’s physical self-perceptions have been found to relate to their physical activity. Understanding the relationships among physical selfperceptions, obesity, and physical activity could have important implications for interventions in children. Methods: The current study investigated the moderating effect of cardiovascular fitness (CVF, heart rate recovery from a 3-minute step test) on the relationship between obesity (BMI, waist circumference) and physical self-perceptions (athletic competence, physical appearance) in 104 fourth- and fifth-grade children from a small rural community. Results: Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that CVF moderated the relations between BMI and waist circumference on athletic competence. For children with lower fitness, higher waist circumference was associated with lower athletic competence, while for children with higher fitness levels, higher BMI was associated with higher athletic competence. Results also indicated that both BMI and waist circumference were negatively related to physical appearance. CVF moderated these relations such that only children with lower fitness, greater BMI and waist circumference was associated with poorer physical appearance scores. Conclusions: Implications include the need for support of fitness programs to promote psychological well-being and to investigate the relationship between obesity and physical self-perceptions within the context of fitness.


Molfese, D. L., Molfese V. J., & Pratt, N. L. (2007).  The use of event-related evoked potentials to predict developmental outcomes.  In de Haan, M. (Ed.) Infant EEG and event-related potentials (pp. 199-225); New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Abstract: There is great interest by researchers, clinicians, educators, and parents in understanding brain functioning and cognitive skill development. This interest has been heightened by the development of methodologies for measuring brain responses that have revealed differences between typically developing and at-risk or disabled children. Some useful and relatively new techniques for studying the cogni