Family Research Center


School Transitions & Academic Readiness (STAR Project)

The STAR Project is a longitudinal investigation of children that examines emotional and cognitive precursors to early school success. Children's knowledge about emotions and responses in challenging situations will be assessed, along with their developing cognitive abilities. The project began in 2012 and is following 300 children through the time points of 4 years old, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade. Currently data is being collected for the children's 4 year visit. The collaborative team of investigators for the STAR project includes Dr. Susan Calkins, Dr. Esther Leerkes, and Dr. Marion O'Brien from HDFS. Website: Phone: 336-256-0540

Right Track

FRC faculty and graduate students participated in a longitudinal study to examine the child and family characteristics that are linked to early and continuing behavior problems. This project involves a collaboration between the developmental and clinical programs in the Human Development and Family Studies Department (Dr. Susan Calkins and Dr. Marion O'Brien) and the Psychology Department (Dr. Susan Keane) at UNCG. For more information, visit the Right Track web site at

Family Adjustment to Child Disability

When families learn that their child has a developmental delay or disability, they have many adjustments to make. FRC staff are involved in examining the issues that arise as families work to adapt to a new reality. Dr. O'Brien completed a book about a portion of this work published in 2006: Beyond the Autism Diagnosis : A Professional's Guide to Helping Families.

NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development

This study is a long-term longitudinal investigation of children's development from birth to adolescence. More than 1,000 families at 10 sites across the country have been participating in this study since their children were born in 1991. Initially aimed at examining the effects of early child care experiences on children's social and emotional development and school readiness, the study now represents an extensive look at the natural history of children's development in the family, child care environments, and school. Dr. Marion O'Brien is one of the study investigators and FRC affiliated faculty. Faculty and graduate students use the extensive NICHD database* produced by the study for research projects, theses and independent study projects. More information about the child care study can be found at *At the FRC, we are using the NICHD data in several ongoing projects.

FRC projects using NICHD data

Teacher Expectations and Children's Early School Performance

We are looking at the potential role of teacher perceptions of children's competence on children's academic performance in the first three years of school.

Maternal Employment

This two-year study will use NICHD data to examine the relations among maternal work hours, mothers’ psychological well-being, and parental role functioning from a child’s infancy through middle childhood. The results of the analyses will provide valuable information about the relation of maternal work hours to family functioning and will identify the conditions under which part-time employment is a positive strategy to promote individual and family goals. The project has been submitted for funding to NICHD with a start date of April 2008. Dr. Cheryl Buehler and Dr. Marion Obrien are the investigators for this project, and are both HDFS faculty.