Katherine C. Pears, Ph.D.

Senior Research Scientist
Oregon Social Learning Center

Active Research Projects

Primary Research and Clinical Interests

Dr. Pears studies a number of early childhood predictors of behavioral and social problems with the goal of developing preventive interventions. Specifically, she is interested in the effects of early adverse circumstances (including maltreatment and poverty) on children’s social and academic development. She has studied the school readiness skills and early school adjustment of high-risk children with a particular focus on self-regulatory skills. Additionally, Dr. Pears has examined longer term indicators of school adjustment in children at risk for poor school outcomes, including how school adjustment is transmitted from one generation to the next. She has translated this research into an intervention to improve the school readiness skills of children at high risk for poor academic and social adjustment: the Kids in Transition to School (KITS) Program. She is the principal investigator on three randomized efficacy trials of the KITS Program including maltreated children in foster care, children with developmental disabilities and co-occurring behavioral or social problems, and children from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. Additionally, Dr. Pears is co-investigator on a 10-year longitudinal, three generation study examining intergenerational transmission of antisocial behavior and substance abuse in a group of high-risk men and their families.

Selected Publications

  • Pears, K. C., Fisher, P. A., Kim, H. K., Bruce, J., Healey, C. V., & Yoerger, K. (2013). Immediate effects of a school readiness intervention for children in foster care. Early Education and Development, 24, 771-791.

  • Pears, K. C., Kim, H. K., Capaldi, D. M., Kerr, D. C. R., & Fisher, P. A. (2013). Father-child transmission of school adjustment: A prospective intergenerational study. Developmental Psychology, 49(4), 792-803.

  • Pears, K. C., Kim, H. K., & Fisher, P. A. (2012). Effects of a school readiness intervention for children in foster care on oppositional and aggressive behavior in kindergarten. Children and Youth Services Review, 34, 2361-2366.

  • Pears, K. C., Heywood, C. V., Kim, H. K., & Fisher, P. A. (2011). Prereading deficits in children in foster care. School Psychology Review, 40(1), 140-148.

  • Pears, K. C., Fisher, P. A., Bruce, J., Kim, H., & Yoerger, K. (2010). Early elementary school adjustment of maltreated children in foster care: The roles of inhibitory control and caregiver involvement. Child Development, 81(5), 1550-1564.

  • Pears, K. C., Capaldi, D. M., & Owen, L. D. (2007). Substance use risk across three generations: The roles of parent discipline practices and inhibitory control. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 21, 373-386.

Recent Publications

  • McDermott, J. M., Pears, K. C., Bruce, J., Kim, H. K., Roos, L. E., Yoerger, K., & Fisher, P. A. (2017). Improving kindergarten readiness in children with developmental disabilities: Changes in neural correlates of response monitoring. Applied Neuropsychology: Child. doi:10.1080/21622965.2017.1286239

  • McClelland, M. M., Leve, L. D., & Pears, K. C. (2016). Preschool executive functions in the context of family risk. In J. A. Griffin, P. McCardle, & L. S. Freund (Eds.), Executive function in preschool age children: Integrating measurement, neurodevelopment and translational research (pp. 241-257). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

  • Pears, K. C., Kim, H. K., Fisher, P., & Yoerger, K. (2016). Increasing pre-kindergarten early literacy skills in children with developmental disabilities and delays. Journal of School Psychology, 57, 15-27. doi:10.1016/j.jsp.2016.05.004

  • Capaldi, D. M., Tiberio, S. S., Kerr, D. C. R., & Pears, K. C. (2016). The relationships of parental alcohol versus tobacco and marijuana use with early adolescent onset of alcohol use. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 77(1), 95-103.

  • Roos, L. E., Beauchamp, K. G., Pears, K. P., Fisher, P. A., Berkman, E. T., & Capaldi, D. M. (2016). Effects of prenatal substance exposure on neurocognitive correlates of inhibitory control success and failure. Applied Neuropsychology: Child. Online. doi:10.1080/21622965.2016.1159561