Jie-Qi Chen, Ph.D.



Dr. Jie-Qi Chen is Professor of Child Development and Early Education, Dean of Faculty, and the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Erikson Institute. With Jennifer McCray she established the Early Math Collaborative for the purpose of conducting needed research and engaging professional learning in mathematics to teachers of infants through 3rd grade.

Dr. Chen is an early childhood teacher educator. She taught toddlers through middle school students in China and in the United States. For the last 30 years, she has been working with pre-service and in-service early childhood teachers as well as studied their development. Chen has published eight books and numerous articles. She has also developed an early math curriculum and assessment materials for early childhood educators. She was the recipient of the Outstanding Teacher Educator Award from the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators in 2009. She teaches at the Harvard Project Zero Classrooms.

Dr. Chen has engaged in many education activities internationally. As a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Education and an early childhood consultant to the U.S. Department of State, she has been frequently invited to give talks and engage in scholarly exchanges around the world. In recent years, she served as an early education advisor to UNICEF-China and worked with the Chinese Ministry of Education to engineer an assessment system to evaluate the national early childhood teacher training efforts. Dr. Chen holds visiting professorship from East China Normal University and Shaanxi Teachers’ University in China.


  • Chen, J-Q., McCray, J.

     Intentional teaching: Integrating the processes of instruction and construction to promote quality early mathematics education. In Kortemkamp, U., Brandt, B., Benz, C., Krummheuer, G., Ladel, S., Vogel, R. (Eds.), Early mathematics learning: Selected papers of the POEM 2012 conference. New York, NY: Springer.

  • Chen, J-Q., McCray, J.

     (2012). The what, how, and why of effective teacher professional development in early mathematics education. NHSA Dialog: A Research-to-Practice Journal for the Early Childhood Field, 15(1), 113-121. doi: 10.1080/15240754.2011.636493

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    In this essay, we describe a conceptual framework designed specially to guide early childhood teacher professional development. Called development of the whole teacher, the framework emphasizes promoting all aspects of teacher’s growth, including attitudes, knowledge, and practice. To exemplify the framework, we describe an Early Mathematics Education Project that is guided by the whole teacher approach for setting program goals, selecting instructional strategies, and evaluating outcomes. The utility power of the whole teacher approach to teacher professional development is discussed in terms of four interrelated characteristics, namely, multidimensional, integrated, developmental, and contextualized.

  • McCray, J., Chen, J-Q.

     (2012). Pedagogical content knowledge for preschool mathematics: Construct validity of a new teacher interview. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 26(3), 291-307. doi: 10.1080/02568543.2012.685123

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    This study examines the construct validity of a new teacher interview designed to assess teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) for preschool mathematics. PCK describes the subject matter knowledge a teacher needs for effective teaching. Data from 22 teachers and 113 Head Start children in a large midwestern city in the United States were used to test predictive relationships between the PCK interview and two dependent variables: good preschool math teaching practices and improved child learning outcomes. Using a method from previous published work, frequency of math-related language is assessed as a proxy for good preschool math teaching. Changes in children’s mathematical achievement were measured from fall to spring within a single school year using the Test of Early Mathematics Ability (3rd ed.). Analysis by hierarchical linear modeling found significant positive relationships between scores on the new measure and both variables, suggesting that the PCK interview adequately represents the knowledge needed for effective teaching of preschool mathematics. A theoretical framework for the interview’s construction is provided.

  • Chen, J-Q., McCray, J.

     (2012). A conceptual framework for teacher professional development: The whole teacher approach. NHSA Dialog: A Research-to-Practice Journal for the Early Childhood Field, 15(1), 8-23. doi: 10.1080/15240754.2011.636491

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    In this article, we describe a conceptual framework for in-service professional development—the Whole Teacher approach. A significant departure from the traditional approach to professional development that speaks primarily to teachers’ acquisition of knowledge and skills, the Whole Teacher framework emphasizes promoting all aspects of a teacher’s development, including attitudes, knowledge, and practice. Putting the framework in operation, we describe a project proven to be effective in helping to develop teachers’ competence and increase children’s performance in early mathematics. We focus on how the Whole Teacher framework guided the project’s design, implementation, and program evaluation. The article concludes with a discussion regarding the significance of the Whole Teacher approach to teacher professional development.

Research Presentations

  • Zhang, Y., Chen, J-Q.

     (2013, June). A look at teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge for early mathematics. Poster session presented at the annual meeting of the Illinois Education Research Council, Champaign, IL.

    Illinois Education Research Council
  • Cerezci, B., Brownell, J., Chen, J-Q., McCray, J.

     (2013, April). HIS-EM: Examining quality mathematics teaching in early childhood classrooms. Poster session presented at the annual meeting of the Loyola University Interdisciplinary Research Symposium for Graduate School Students, Chicago, IL.

    Loyola University Interdisciplinary Research Symposium for Graduate School Students Read More


    High quality education in math for young children builds a strong foundation for future mathematics learning. Evidence is clear that early mathematics achievement is associated with later school success, but the field lacks clear definition of excellence in early mathematics teaching. We are also short of available tools to assist teachers and teacher educators in monitoring or assessing classrooms around mathematics teaching. The purpose of this poster was to introduce High Impact Strategies in Early Mathematics, (HIS-EM), an observational tool designed to identify and measure the frequency of high quality mathematics teaching practices in preschool through third grade and to report its early findings.

  • Chen, J-Q., McCray, J.

     (2013, April). Understanding teachers’ attitudes and beliefs in early mathematics teaching. Session at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association, San Francisco, CA.

    American Education Research Association
  • Chen, J-Q.

     (2012, February). Instruction and construction: Integrating both processes to promote quality early mathematics education. Presentation at the Perspectives on Early Mathematics Conference, Frankfort, Germany.

    Perspectives on Early Mathematics Conference

Teacher Education Presentations

  • Chen, J-Q.

     (2016, December). Mathematical experience for infants and toddlers: Why, what, & how. Zero to Three annual conference, New Orleans, LA.

  • Hynes-Berry, M., Chen, J-Q.

    & Abel, B. (2016, June). Building the joy of math all around me from the ground up. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Professional Development Institute of National Association for the Education of Young Children. Baltimore, MD.

    National Association for the Education of Young Children Professional Development Institute
  • Chen, J-Q.

     (2013, March), High quality math instruction: What does it look like in the early childhood classroom? Change the Equation, Washington, DC.

    Change the Equation
  • Chen, J-Q.

     (2010, October). Professional development in early mathematics: Past, present, and future. Keynote address at Annual Legends Talk of Early Childhood Education, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, IL


Associated Ideas

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Attitudes & Beliefs with Jie-Qi Chen

Jie-Qi Chen explains the importance (and difficulty) of fostering positive attitudes and beliefs in educators towards teaching mathematics. Often professional development does not focus on attitudes and beliefs. Why? It's subjective. It's judgmental. It's difficult to change. And particularly, it's difficult to measure the change. Dr. Jie-Qi Chen is the Principal Investigator of the Early…
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What Teachers Know About Math with Jennifer McCray and Jie-Qi Chen

Jie-Qi Chen and Jennifer McCray review answers they received from a survey administered to early education teachers. The survey prompted the teachers to imagine that they were giving advice to a new teacher, "Tina," who had some questions about parts of the curriculum. Dr. Jie-Qi Chen is the Principal Investigator of the Early Math Collaborative…