Our lab has created innovate assessments to better understand how children's social-emotional and cognitive skills change over time and how they support learning. In addition, we have adapted existing measures to ensure that they can be used equitably with diverse groups of children.
Our work on developing and validating direct assessments of elementary school students’ EFs and motivation in classroom settings are described in a new chapter. Obradović & Steyer (2022)
Lessons learned from studying EFs in young children from low-and-middle-income countries are reported in a review article that provides practical guidance on task adaptation, study design, team training, data analyses, and interpretation for future studies. Obradović & Willoughby (2019)
Early Childhood Educational Experiences
In partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) Early Education Department (EED), we are leveraging routinely collected classroom- and student-level data to examine how different aspects of preschool experience and kindergarten readiness uniquely relate to children’s social, emotional, and academic skills during preschool and elementary school grades. This research is supported by an SFUSD-Stanford Partnership grant.
Our current SFUSD-EED research-practice partnership work also supports the implementation of socio-emotional learning curriculum and evaluates its effectiveness, while advancing the science of how EFs, emotion knowledge, and social skills develop in racially/ethnically and linguistically diverse preschoolers. This research is supported by a Spencer Foundation grant.
Stress Physiology and Self-regulation in Children
We are studying how the dynamic interplay between children’s physiological arousal, self-regulatory skills, and the quality of caregiving environments relates to children’s health, learning, and well-being over time. This work points toward the possibility of harnessing stress physiology to promote resilience in at-risk children (Obradović, 2016). Thus, we are testing whether brief interventions can change young children’s physiological responses to emotional and cognitive challenges. This work was supported by a grant from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and it is currently funded by the Jacobs Foundation.
Parenting and Family Processes
Our work examines how contextual family experiences relate to and shape children’s development of EFs and self-regulation skills. We have shown shown that caregivers’ own EFs and self-regulation skills are crucial for responsive and engaged caregiving in. We also study how children’s EF and self-regulation skills are related to their experiences of dyadic caregiver-child co-regulation and caregiver's scaffolding practices. Our ongoing work investigates the role of sibling, parental, and family co-regulation processes and aims to identify everyday experiences that explain intra-individual variability in EF skills.
Our new NIH-funded mixed-method work will identify how caregivers respond to children’s negative emotions in the context of learning challenges. Our goal is to create a new measure that will be validated with large groups of racially/ethnically diverse mothers and fathers (stratified by socioeconomic status) to expand understanding of how families in the U.S. support children’s well-being and learning.
STAR Project: School Transition and Readiness in Rural Pakistan
With Dr. Aisha Yousafzai and a research team at Aga Khan University, in Karachi, Pakistan, we are studying how an early parenting intervention, family processes, and antecedent development relate to emergent executive functions (EFs) and related school readiness skills in disadvantaged preschoolers. Our goal is to further the understand of early childhood development in low-and middle-income countries (LMIC) where children face high levels of adversity, including infections, malnutrition, and inadequate stimulation. This work was funded by the Grand Challenges Canada, Saving Brains Program.
PLUS Project: Promoting Learning, Understanding Self-regulation
We studied executive functions (EFs) in upper elementary school grades, an age when students are expected to manage their own classroom behaviors with less direct input from teachers and when peer influences become more salient. We showed that EF skills are uniquely related to both adaptive classroom behaviors and academic achievement, over and above related, but conceptually distinct skills. We identified how specific aspects of the classroom context relate to changes in EF skills across an academic school year. This work was funded by a grant from the William T. Grant Foundation.