Introduction & Projects
I appreciate the PRC’s vibrant intellectual community focused on promoting prevention science and its outstanding interdisciplinary opportunities for partnerships.
Karen Bierman’s research focuses on the design and evaluation of school- and community-based prevention programs that promote social-emotional learning and school readiness. She has directed several longitudinal studies evaluating the long-term impact of early school-based and family-focused preventive interventions designed to reduce aggression (Fast Track) and enhance school success (Head Start REDI). She has also developed and evaluated small-group social skill training interventions for peer-rejected children (Friendship Group). Her current research focuses on the longitudinal follow-up of the REDI classroom and parent prevention program participants (funded by the National Institutes of Health) and the evaluation of two new parent-focused guided play interventions to support preschool STEM and social-emotional skills (funded by the National Science Foundation and the Institute of Education Sciences, respectively.
Dr. Bierman has authored more than 230 peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters that have appeared in publications such as Child Development, JAMA Pediatrics, Journal of Developmental Psychology, and Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. She has published five books as author or co-editor. Some of her honors and awards include:
- Fellow, American Psychological Association (2019)
- Fellow, Society for Prevention Research (2019)
- Service to SPR Award, Society for Prevention Research (2017)
- Evan Pugh University Professor (2016)
- Fellow, Association of Psychological Science (2016)
- Senior Scientist and Mentor Award, Missouri Prevention Center (2015)
- Prevention Science Award, Society for Prevention Research (2013)
In the future, Dr. Bierman hopes to work with ongoing studies in the area of school readiness, linking school-based with family-focused prevention supports, and scaling up evidence-based interventions.
Bierman, K. L., Welsh, J. A., Hall, C. M., Jacobson, L. N., Lee, D. L., & Jones, D. E. (2022). Efficacy of the Fast Track friendship group program for peer-rejected children: A randomized-controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/15374416.2022.2051
Bierman, K.L., & Sheridan, S.M. (Eds.). (2022). Family-school partnerships during the early school years. Springer. https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-74617-9
Welsh, J. A., Bierman, K. L., Nix, R. L., Heinrichs, B., & Gest, S. D. (2020). Sustained effects of a school readiness intervention: Fifth grade outcomes of the Head Start REDI program. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 53, 151-160. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecresq.2020.03.009
Zhang, X., Gatzke-Kopp, L.M., Fosco, G.M., & Bierman, K.L. (2020). Parental Support of Self-Regulation among Children at Risk for Externalizing Symptoms: Developmental Trajectories of Physiological Regulation and Behavioral Adjustment. Developmental Psychology, 56, 528-540.
Multi-tiered social-emotional learning: PATHS and friendship group in the Fast Track Program
Bierman, K. L., Greenberg, M. T., & The Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group (2020). Multi-tiered social-emotional learning: PATHS and friendship group in the Fast Track Program. In T. W. Farmer, M. Conroy, E. M. Z., Farmer, & Sutherland (Co-editors). Handbook of research on emotional & behavioral disorders: Interdisciplinary developmental perspectives on children and youth (pp. 254-260). Routledge: London.
Bierman, K.L., Coie, J.D., Dodge, K.A., Greenberg, M.T., Lochman, John E., McMahon, R.J., & Pinderhughes. E.E. (2019). The Fast Track program for children at risk: Preventing antisocial behavior. Guilford Press.
Jones, D. E., Bierman, K., Crowley, D. M., Welsh, J., & Gest, J. (2019). Important issues in estimating costs of early childhood educational interventions: An example from the REDI program. Child and Family Services Review, 207, 104498. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2019.104498
Bierman, K. L., McDoniel, M., & Loughlin-Presnal, J. (2019). How a preschool parent intervention produced later benefits: A longitudinal mediation analysis. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 64,101058. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2019.101058
Pepler, D. J., & Bierman, K. L. (2018). With a little help from my friends: The importance of peer relationships for social-emotional development. University Park, PA: Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, The Pennsylvania State University.
Effect of preschool home visiting on school readiness and need for services in elementary school: A randomized clinical trial
Bierman, K.L., Welsh, J.A., Heinrichs, B.S., & Nix, R.L. (2018). Effect of preschool home visiting on school readiness and need for services in elementary school: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Pediatrics, 172(8), e181029.
Bierman, K. L., Greenberg, M. T., & Abenavoli, R. (2016). Promoting social and emotional learning in preschool: Programs and practices that work. University Park, PA: Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, The Pennsylvania State University.
Bierman, K. L., Morris, P. A., & Abenavoli, R. M. (2017). Parent engagement practices improve outcomes for preschool children. University Park, PA: Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, The Pennsylvania State University.
Promoting resilience: A preschool intervention enhances the adolescent adjustment of children exposed to early adversity
Sanders, M., Welsh, J.A., Bierman, K.L., & Heinrichs, B. (in press). Promoting resilience: A preschool intervention enhances the adolescent adjustment of children exposed to early adversity. School Psychology.
May 25, 2022
Dick and Bebe Hayes bequest to benefit Child Study Center, scholarshipsRead more.
December 02, 2021
Penn State partners with science center to give children 'Science Adventures'Read more.
December 10, 2020
Preschool program linked with better social and emotional skills years later
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A preschool enrichment program developed at Penn State helps boost social and emotional skills that still have positive effects years later during middle and high school, according to a new study.Read more.
February 11, 2019
Prevention Research Center to chart course for social emotional learning
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Experts agree that social and emotional skills are necessary for children to grow up healthy and successful as students and later, in all aspects of life. Over the past two years, the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center at Penn State and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) have published the most comprehensive examination to date of the research on social emotional learning (SEL).Read more.
December 10, 2018
"With a Little Help from My Friends - The Importance of Peer Relationships for Social-Emotional Development"
Positive peer relationships make critical contributions to healthy social emotional developmentRead more.