Early Childhood Environments


  • Understanding variations in children’s early development, with special interest in developmental variations in school readiness skills including social-emotional behaviors, academic skills, and executive function.
  • Defining ECE (early childhood environments) quality
  • Improving professional development and practice in order to improve children’s development.
  • Improving the lives of families with very young children who are at-risk for poor developmental outcomes by improving home visiting practices both locally and nationally. Of special interest is the translation of research to practice in this field.
  • Preparing a well-informed early childhood workforce that will persevere in the field and promote positive experiences for young children.
  • Identify unique, active ingredients that facilitate intervention efficacy, especially with home visiting programs. Also, to examine factors that help (or hinder) implementation integrity and interventionist support.

Research Projects

  • Researching in 0-to 5-year-old children’s development within the context of early care and education (ECE) settings. This research primarily utilizes large longitudinal secondary datasets and state and local administrative data and examines them through quantitative approaches.
  • Improving pre-service and in-service training in early childhood education through the effective and innovative use of coaching. The research has a focus on using video for examining an individual’s interactions and providing constructive feedback.
  • Understanding how best to prepare future early childhood teachers to be successful and effective.
  • Examining the design, implementation, and efficacy of interventions targeted to young children and their families, with a special emphasis on families facing risks.

Faculty Interests

Kere Hughes-Belding, home visiting, infant mental health, trauma-informed care, prevention, and program evaluation.

Carla Peterson, home visiting programs, observation, intervention integrity, Early Head Start, and MIECHV.

Heather Rouse, state and local strategic planning to inform collaborative early childhood programming; early risk and protective factors related to school readiness; programmatic needs assessments and evaluation with a specific focus on Head Start, Early Head Start, home visiting, and child care subsidies.

Related Laboratories, Programs, Centers

Child Development Lab School

Iowa’s Integrated Data System for Decision-Making (I2D2)

Research Facilities

The Child Development Laboratory School provides students with hands-on experience working with and observing young children while serving as a model early childhood program for young children, including those with disabilities, and their families. Located in the Palmer HDFS building, the facility includes four classrooms, the children’s library, administrative offices, laundry, and kitchen. The Iowa State University Child Development Laboratory School offers full-day, year-round programs for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers while serving as an exemplary early childhood education model for Iowa State students preparing to be early childhood teachers, administrators, and child and family specialists.

Iowa’s Integrated Data System for Decision-Making (I2D2) provides students and faculty with connections to state and local early childhood leaders with the purpose of conducting analytics that inform cross-agency program collaboration and systems improvement. The state-university partnership is governed by strict data use protocols and includes a state-of-the-art technology solution that integrates administrative data in a secure virtual environment and provides access to anonymized analytic files for research and evaluation.

Need More Information?

Alex Rogers

Graduate Program Assistant

2330E Palmer Building
2222 Osborn Drive
Ames, IA 50011-1084