School of Education
October 1, 2010
Research and Publications Continue to Enrich Understanding of Child Care and Youth Development
Dr. Margaret Burchinal is a Professor in the Department of Education at the University of California at Irvine. She is interested in determining how child care experiences can help children, especially children from low-income families, succeed in school and identifying effective teaching practices and instructional programs for preschoolers and children in elementary school. As an applied statistician, she has served as the primary data analyst for many large child care and evaluation project and as an advisor for programs such as Head Start and the Los Angeles Universal Preschool Project.
Margaret Burchinal moved to UCI from the University of North Carolina (UNC) in fall, 2007, but her interest in education dates back to her undergraduate years. She was born in Ohio, but grew up in Ames, Iowa. Her father was a sociologist who helped develop ERIC, the first on-line information search system. She studied developmental psychology at Iowa State University, becoming interested in the child care programs similar to Head Start that demonstrated that good quality education during early childhood can make a big difference for children from low-income families. She attended graduate school at UNC because it had one of the premier child care projects – the Abecedarian Project at the FPG Child Development Institute. After earning a master’s of art in special education, she enrolled in the quantitative psychology project so she could address some of the complex statistical issues implicit in examining treatment effects in long-term longitudinal data. She married a fellow graduate student and they spent seven months in Leiden, the Netherlands as post-docs. Returning to Chapel Hill, she became a statistician at FPG and loved being able to combine pursuing her career with raising two children. During the next 20 years, she became the Director of the Design and Statistical Computing Unit at the FPG Child Development Institute and a Research Professor in Psychology.
Dr. Burchinal’s career includes pursuing both educational and methodological interests. Her educational interests have focused on early education as a means to improve school readiness for at-risk children and identification of protective factors that may help promote resilience among at-risk children. She has been a leading contributor to both literatures. She has served as the primary statistician for many educational studies of early childhood, including the 11-state Pre-Kindergarten Evaluation for the National Center for Early Learning and Development, the longitudinal study of 1300 children in NICHD Study of Early Child Care; the 4 state evaluation of child care in the Cost, Quality, and Child Outcomes Study; the 3 site study of family child care homes in the Family Child Care and Relative Care Study, and the Abecedarian and CARE Projects. As an applied methodologist, she has helped to demonstrate that sophisticated methods such as meta-analysis, fixed-effect modeling, hierarchical linear modeling, piecewise regression, and generalized estimating equations provide educational researchers with advanced techniques to address important educational issues such as whether child care quality measures are biased.
Among her recent research findings, she considers the following of particular importance:
- Findings from a meta-analysis of quality showing modest, but significant associations between child care quality and child outcomes and stronger associations for younger children and for most assessments of more specific aspects of the child care environment than of the global environment
- Findings from a mixed method study with Skinner and Reznick (see publication list below) that demonstrated how combining qualitative and quantitative approaches can help researchers understand why some parents use physical punishment with young infants
- Findings with Vandergrift and others (see publication list below) suggesting thresholds in quality-outcome associations such that quality of child care is more strongly related to outcomes in higher quality classrooms than in lower quality classrooms
Dr. Burchinal’s personal interests focus on traveling and out-door activities such as hiking. Her favorite local hiking places include the beaches of Laguna Beach and Crystal Cove.
2010 Publication Activity
Burchinal. M., & Forestieri, N. (in press) Development of Early Literacy: Evidence from Major US Longitudinal Studies. In D. Dickinson & S. Neuman (Eds.) Handbook of early literacy.
Burchinal, M., Kainz, K., & Cai, Y. (in press). How well do our measures of quality predict child outcomes? A meta-analysis and coordinated analysis of data from large-scale studies of early childhood settings. In M. Zaslow (Ed.) Reasons to take stock and strengthen our measures of quality. Baltimore, MD: Brooks Publishing.
Bryant, D.M., Zaslow, M., & Burchinal, M. (2010). Issue in measuring quality programs. In P. Wesley & V Buysee (Eds.) The quest for quality: Promising innovations for each childhood programs (pp. 47-68). Baltimore, MD: Brooks Publishing.
Publications In Press
Burchinal, M., McCartney, K., Steinberg, L., Crosnoe, R., Friedman, S. L., McLoyd, V., & Pianta, R., & NICHD ECCRN (in press). Examining the Black-White achievement gap among low-income children using the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. Child Development.
Chien, N.C., Howes, C., Burchinal, M., Pianta, R., Ritchie, S., Bryant, D., Clifford, R., Early, & D., Barbarin, O. (in press). Children’s classroom engagement and gains in academic and social-emotional outcomes across pre-kindergarten. Child Development.
Grimm, K. J., Steele, J. S., Mashburn, A. J., Burchinal, M., & Pianta, R. C. (in press). Early behavioral associations of achievement trajectories. Developmental Psychology.
Mashburn, A. J., Pianta, R. C., Hamre, B. K., Downer, J. T., Barbarin, O., Bryant, D., Burchinal, M., Clifford, R., Early, D., & Howes, C. (in press). Pre-K program standards and children’s development of academic, language and social skills. Child Development.
Pianta, R. C., Burchinal, M., Barnett, E. S., & Thornburg, K. (in press). Preschool in the United States: What we know, what we need to know, and implications for policy and research. Psychological Science in the Public Interest.
Publications In 2010
Burchinal, M., Skinner, D., & Reznick, S., (2010). European American and African American mothers’ beliefs about parenting and disciplining infants: A mixed-method analysis. Parenting: Science and Practice, 10, 79-96.
Campbell, S. B., Spieker, S., Vandergrift, N., Belsky, J., Burchinal, M., & NICHD ECCRN. (2010). Predictors and sequelae of trajectories of physical aggression in school-age boys and girls. Development and Psychopathology, 22, 133-150.
Crosnoe, R., Morrison, F., Burchinal, M., Pianta, R., Keating, D., Friedman, S., Clarke-Stewart, K., & the NICHD ECCRN (2010). Instruction, teacher-student relations, and math achievement trajectories in elementary school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102, 407-417.
Iruka, I. U., Burchinal, M., & Cai, K. (2010). Long-term effect of early relationships for African American children’s academic and social development: An examination from kindergarten to fifth grade. Journal of Black Psychology, 36, 144-171.
McCartney, K., Burchinal, M., Clarke-Stewart, A., Bub, K. L., Owen, M. T., Belsky, J., & NICHD ECCRN. (2010). Testing a series of causal propositions relating time in child care to children’s externalizing behavior. Developmental Psychology, 46, 1-17.
Powell, D.R., Diamond, K.E., Burchinal, M.R., & Koehler, M.J. (2010). Effects of an early literacy professional development intervention on Head Start teachers and children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102, 299-312.
Pungello, E. P., Kainz, K., Burchinal, M., Wasik, B. H., Sparling, J., Ramey, C. T., & Campbell, F. (2010). Early educational intervention, early cumulative risk, and the early home environment as predictors of young adult outcomes within a high-risk sample. Child Development, 81, 410-426.
Vandell, D.L., Belsky, U., Burchinal, M., Steinberg, L., Vandergift, N., & NICHD ECCRN (2010). Do effects of early child care extend to age 15 years? Results from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. Child Development, 81, 737-756.