Cara Kelly portrait

Cohort: 2024


Jason Hustedt


Early Childhood Education

Research Interest(s)

Program evaluation, at-risk populations in early childhood, kindergarten readiness

Cara Kelly

Cara was fortunate to find her passion, early childhood research, while she was a junior in college. She attended the College of Charleston for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She has her Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and she received her Master of Education in Teaching, Learning, and Advocacy. Throughout her career, Cara has had the opportunity to work on multiple research projects ranging from evaluating an afterschool program focused on teaching at-risk students social-emotional skills to providing professional development to elementary school teachers. Cara’s research interests focus on the transition to kindergarten and the “soft” skills necessary for a successful transition. After achieving her doctorate, Cara hopes to continue working in academia and focus on her research.

Research Projects

  • Talent Development Academies
  • Efficacy Follow Up and Implementation Evaluation of the WINGS After-School Social and Emotional Learning Program
  • Efficacy of the WINGS After-School Social and Emotional Learning Program
  • The Impact of Fine Motor Skill Training on Math Achievement for At-Risk Youth
  • The Terrific Twos Study: Investigating Family Dynamics and Toddler’s Self-Regulation

Recent Publications

  • Brock, L.L., Kim, H., Kelly, C.L.,Mashburn, A., Grissmer, D. (accepted). “Theory of Mind Directly and Indirectly Facilitates Kindergarten Adjustment via Verbal Ability, Executive Function, and Emotion Knowledge.” Psychology in the Schools.
  • Kim, H., Cameron, C.E., Kelly, C.A., West, H., Mashburn, A., Grissmer, D. (2018). “Using an Individualized Observational Measure to Understand Children’s Interactions in Underserved Kindergarten Classrooms.” Journal of Psychoeducational Assessmentdoi: 10.1177/0734282918819579

Recent Presentations

  • Brock, L.L, Kim, H., Adams, C.L., Mashburn, A.J., Grissmer, D. (2017, April). “Self-Regulation, Perspective-Taking, and Student-Teacher Relationships in Kindergarten.” Paper presentation at the 2017 meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) in Austin, Texas.
  • West, H., Adams, C.L., Kim, H. (2017, April). “Classroom Quality as a Predictor of Classroom Behavior in a Sample of Socio-Demographically At-Risk Students.” Poster session at the 2017 meeting of the SRCD in Austin, Texas.
  • Cameron, C.E., Kim, H., Mashburn, A., Adams, C.L., West, H., Grissmer, D. (2015, March). “Classroom Conditions to Consider When Testing the Impacts of an After-School SEL Program on Kindergarteners’ Classroom Engagement.” Paper symposium at the 2015 meeting of the SRCD in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • Brock, L.L., Kim, H., Adams, C.L.(2015). “Theory of Mind as an Indicator of School Readiness: The Role of Perspective Taking.” Poster presented to the SRCD in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • Adams, C.L., Brock, L.L. (2014, March). “Theory of Mind as an Indicator of School Readiness.” Paper presentation at the 2014 meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Adams, C.L., Kolak, A.M. (2013, March). “Contributions of Child Characteristics and Parenting Behavior to Toddlers’ Self-Regulation.” Poster presentation at the 2013 meeting of the SEPA in Atlanta, Georgia.

Professional Experiences

  • Research Scientist, College of Charleston, 2011-2018

Honors and Awards

  • Outstanding Graduate Student, College of Charleston, 2016

Professional Memberships

  • Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA)
  • Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD)
  • American Educational Research Association (AERA)

Past Education

  • M.Ed. Teaching, Learning, and Advocacy, College of Charleston, 2016
  • B.S. Psychology, College of Charleston, 2012