of Child Study and
105 College Avenue
Medford, MA 02155
The RISE Project
Professor, Director of Early Childhood Education
Ph.D. School, Community, and Clinical-Child Psychology,
University of Pennsylvania
M.S.Ed. Psychological Services, University of Pennsylvania
B.S. Psychology (Minors in Public Service and English), Abilene
School success of low-income, urban-residing children; family
engagement in education; parenting young children within
ethnically, socioculturally, and linguistically diverse families
in the U.S.; community-based research collaborations
Scholarship & Research
I am an applied developmental scientist and community-based
early childhood educational researcher whose career has been
focused upon fostering better understandings of the early social
and learning successes of young children growing up in urban
poverty. The existence of seeming intractable achievement gaps
between children growing up in poverty and their more affluent
peers represents, arguably, the most important educational
concern of our time. In my research, I seek to illuminate
something about these gaps by understanding more about the
nature of children's school readiness, as well as about the
supports available to children in their homes and classrooms
(i.e., peers, parents, teachers), within socioculturally and
linguistically diverse communities and contexts.
My work involves four main themes, which underpin my research
and reflect my overarching commitment to researching, creating
and sustaining strong systems of support for young, low-income,
urban-residing and dual language learning children. First, I am
interested in how children growing up in urban poverty succeed
within the context of their families, schools, and communities.
Therefore, my research seeks to document and understand
strengths in context. I believe this approach
has the greatest potential for informing intervention, because
it leverages the positive elements in children's lives while
also acknowledging the challenges that exist for many children.
Second, because much of our research has tended to view children
and families through the lens of the dominant U.S. culture, the
uniqueness of the experience of many children and families has
been missed. By obscuring within-group variability that exists,
researchers have failed to document the, perhaps,
culturally-nuanced forms of support that could be leveraged
within the lives of young children to promote well-being and
engagement in school. We know that economic, linguistic, and
cultural differences often translate into significant
discontinuities between home and school contexts for many young
children. Therefore, through my research, I seek to understand
the nature of supports that exist within socioculturally diverse
families, and to document within-group variation.
In essence, I seek to document the ways in which families from
non-dominant groups are supporting their children and how, by
having more culturally-grounded information, we can bridge the
divides that often exist between the primary helpers in
children's lives (i.e., parents and teachers).
A third theme of my research is grounded in the notion that
what we measure and how we measure it matters.
There is a need for better understanding of the
cultural-contextual realities of families and of the specific
family and community resources that can be leveraged to foster
young children's success. Such understanding relies on solid,
empirically-validated measurement. Consistent with the
commitments described above, I focus on measurement development
from a within-group and strengths-based perspective. I employ
community-collaborative, mixed-methods (quantitative and
qualitative) approaches in my measurement development and
validation work. By doing so, I hope to provide the field with
critical information for enhancing the lived experiences (at
home and at school) of our nation's increasingly diverse student
population by conducting research with new measures that reflect
their lived experiences.
Finally, as an applied developmentalist, my scholarship is
deeply integrated with considerations for practice.
I joined the faculty in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child
Study and Human Development at Tufts University in 2010, where I
have served as the Director of Early Childhood Education. In my
role, I have led a new vision centering on equity in education
for the Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs, which prepare
undergraduate and graduate students seeking initial PreK-2nd
grade licensure in the state of Massachusetts (learn
more about the ECE programs). This departmental
administrative service fits well with my growing research focus
on preschool STEM curriculum development and in-service
professional development support. Consistent with the themes
above, through my most recent research (see more below about the
RISE project), I seek to develop and refine early childhood
curriculum that is responsive to and inclusive of children's
home context and cultural communities.
Current Research Projects
Learn about current research projects >
(* asterisk indicates student coauthor)
Dr. McWayne has served as Associate Editor for the Journal
of School Psychology (2008-2011), Journal of Applied
Developmental Psychology (2012-2017) and the Educational
McWayne, C.M., Mattis, J., & *Hyun, S. (In Press). Profiles of
positive parenting among low-income, Black families of preschool
children and their relation to school readiness competencies.
Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology.
McWayne, C. M., Mattis, J, S., *Wright Green, L., & *Limlingan,
M. C., & *Harris. E. (2016).
An emic, mixed-methods approach to defining and measuring
positive parenting among low-income Black families.
Early Education and Development, 28, 182-206.
McWayne, C. M., Melzi, G., *Limlingan, M. C., & Schick, A.
Ecocultural patterns of family engagement among
low-income Latino families of preschool children.
Developmental Psychology, 52 (7), 1088-1102.
Bulotsky-Shearer, R. J., McWayne, C. M., Mendez, J. L., & Manz,
P. H. (2016). Preschool peer play interactions - a developmental
context for learning for ALL children: Rethinking issues of
equity and opportunity. In K. E. Sanders, & A W. Guerra (Eds.),
The culture of child care: Attachment, peers, & quality in
diverse communities (pp. 179-202). In honor of Dr. Carollee
Howes. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
McWayne, C. M. (2015).
Family-school partnerships in a context
of urgent engagement: Rethinking models, measurement, and
meaningfulness. In S. Sheridan (Ed.), Research on
Family-School Partnerships: An Interdisciplinary Examination of
State of the Science and Critical Needs (pp. 105-124).
Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.
McWayne, C. M., Manz, P. H., & Ginsburg-Block, M. D. (2015).
Examination of the Family Involvement Questionnaire-Early
Childhood (FIQ-EC) with Low-Income, Latino Families of Young
Children: An Application of Rasch Modeling. International
Journal of School & Educational Psychology, 3(2), 1-18.
McWayne, C. M., & Melzi, G. (2014).
Validation of a
culture-contextualized measure of family engagement in the early
learning of low-income Latino children. Journal of Family
Psychology, 28, 260-266.
McWayne, C. M., & Bulotsky-Shearer, R. J. (2013).
family and classroom practices associated with stability and
change of social-emotional readiness for a national sample of
low-income children. Special Issue: Familial and Nonfamilial
relationships as ecological sources of health and positive
development across the lifespan. Research in Human
Development, 10, 116-140.
McWayne, C., Melzi, G., *Schick, A. R., *Kennedy, J. L., & *Mundt,
Defining family engagement among Latino Head Start
parents: A mixed-methods measurement development study.
Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28, 593-607.
McWayne, C., Downer, J., Campos, R., & *Harris, R. (2013).
Father involvement during early childhood and its association
with children’s school readiness: A meta-analysis. Early
Education and Development, 24, 898-922.
McWayne, C., *Cheung, K., Green, L., & Hahs-Vaughn, D. (2012).
Patterns of school readiness among Head Start children:
Meaningful within-group variability during the transition to
kindergarten. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104,
McWayne, C., Hahs-Vaughn, D., *Cheung, K., & Green, L. (2012).
National profiles of school readiness skills for Head Start
children: An investigation of stability and change. Early
Childhood Research Quarterly, 27, 668-683.
Bulotsky-Shearer, R. J., Manz, P. H., Mendez, J. L., McWayne, C.
M., Sekino, Y., & Fantuzzo, J. W. (2012).
Peer Play Interactions
and Readiness to Learn: A Protective Influence for African
American Preschool Children from Low-income Households.
Child Development Perspectives Special Issue on Positive
Development in Minority Children, 6(3), 225-231.
Ginsburg-Block, M., Manz, P. H., & McWayne, C. (2010).
Partnering with families to foster early achievement in reading
and mathematics. In A. L. Reschly & S. Christenson (Eds.).
The handbook on school family partnerships for promoting student
competence (pp. 176-203). Oxford, UK: Routledge/Taylor and
McWayne, C.M., & *Cheung, K. (2009).
A picture of strength:
Preschool competencies mediate the effects of early behavior
problems on later academic and social adjustment for Head Start
children. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30,
McWayne, C., *Green, L., & Fantuzzo, J. (2009).
A variable- and
person-oriented investigation of preschool competencies and Head
Start children’s transition to kindergarten and first grade.
Applied Developmental Science, 13, 1-15.
McWayne, C., *Campos, R., & *Owsianik, M. (2008).
multidimensional, multi-level examination of mother and father
involvement among culturally diverse Head Start families.
Journal of School Psychology, 46, 551-573.
McWayne, C., *Owsianik, M., *Green, L., & Fantuzzo, J. (2008).
Parenting behaviors and preschool children's social and
emotional skills: A question of the consequential validity of
traditional parenting constructs for low-income African
Americans. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 23, 173-192.
Downer, J., *Campos, R., McWayne, C., & *Gartner, T. (2010).
Father involvement and children's early learning: A critical
review of published empirical work from the past 15 years.
Marriage & Family Review, 43, 67-108.
McWayne, C., McDermott, P. A., Fantuzzo, J., & Culhane, D.
(2007). Employing community data to investigate social and
structural dimensions of urban neighborhoods: An early childhood
example. American Journal of Community Psychology, 39,
Fantuzzo, J., McWayne, C., & Childs, S. (2006).
Scientist-community collaborations: A dynamic tension between
rights and responsibilities. In J. E. Trimble & C. B. Fisher
(Eds.), Handbook of ethical research involving ethnocultural
populations and communities, (pp. 27-49). Thousand Oaks,
CA: Sage Publications.