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

  • Pears, K. C., Kim, H. K., & Brown, K. L. (2018). Factors affecting the educational trajectories and outcomes of youth in foster care. In E. Trejos-Castillo & N. Trevino-Schafer (Eds.), Handbook of foster youth (pp. 208-222). New York: Routledge.

  • Graham, A. M., Pears, K. C., Kim, H. K., Bruce, J., & Fisher, P. A. (2018). Effects of a school readiness intervention on hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis functioning and school adjustment for children in foster care. Development and Psychopathology, 30(2), 651-664. doi:10.1017/S0954579417001171

  • Pears, K. C., & Peterson, E. (2018). Recognizing and addressing the effects of early adversity on children’s transitions to kindergarten. In A. J. Mashburn, J. LoCasale-Crouch, & K. C. Pears (Eds.), Kindergarten transition and readiness: Promoting cognitive, social-emotional, and self-regulatory development. New York: Springer.

  • Pears, K. C., Carpenter, L., Kim, H. K., Peterson, E., & Fisher, P. A. (2018). The kids in transition to school program. In A. J. Mashburn, J. LoCasale-Crouch, & K. C. Pears (Eds.), Kindergarten transition and readiness: Promoting cognitive, social-emotional, and self-regulatory development. New York: Springer.

  • Mashburn, A. J., LoCasale-Crouch, J., & Pears, K. C. (2018). Kindergarten transition and readiness: Promoting cognitive, social-emotional, and self-regulatory development. New York: Springer.