Maria Fusaro, EdD

Maria Fusaro

Associate Professor, Child & Adolescent Development

Director, Early Childhood Institute

Maria's research centers on how young children, under age 5, learn from other people, through both verbal and gesture-based communication and through question-answer exchanges. Her recent work examines how preschoolers’ skill in asking questions supports their ability to solve science-relevant problems in innovative ways. Bridging her teaching and research, Maria also studies the preparation of undergraduate students for careers in infant/toddler care and education, and for providing high quality, supportive learning experiences for young children.


  • Ed.D., Human Development and Psychology, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Ed.M., Mind, Brain and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • B.A., Education Studies (Human Development) and Public Policy and American Institutions (Education Policy), Brown University

Recent Publications

  • Fusaro, M. (2020, Feb 17). To provide quality care for infants and toddlers, California must pay teachers a worthy wage [Commentary]. CalMatters. Prepared by Slusser, E., Fusaro, M., & Golloher, A. (equal contributors).
  • LaParo, K., Lippard, C., Fusaro, M., & Cook, G. (2019). Relationships in early practicum experiences: Positive and negative aspects and associations with teacher characteristics and teaching efficacy. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education. DOI: 10.1080/10901027.2019.1668889
  • Lippard, C., Fusaro, M., Decker, K., & Vallotton, C.D., (2019). Effects of prior formal and informal caregiving experiences on undergraduates’ infant/toddler caregiving beliefs and attitudes. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 40(4), 409-429, DOI: 10.1080/10901027.2019.1607632
  • Early Childhood Initiative (2019). Response to Governor Newsom’s Budget Proposal. Prepared and disseminated on behalf of SJSU’s Early Childhood Initiative. Prepared by Slusser, E., Fusaro, M., & Golloher, A. (equal contributors).
  • Mortensen, J. A., Kucskar Mitsch, M., Decker, K., Fusaro, M., Plata-Potter, S. I., Brophy-Herb, H., Vallotton, C. D., & Buell, M. J. (2019). Building bridges to overcome widening gaps: Challenges in addressing the need for professional preparation of infant-toddler practitioners in higher education. Occasional Paper Series, 42. Retrieved from

  • Fusaro, M. & Smith, M.C. (2018). Preschoolers’ inquisitiveness and science‐relevant problem solving. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 42, 119–127.

Recent Presentations

  • Fusaro, M. (2020, October). Variability in question-asking among 5-year-olds from low- income backgrounds. [Poster presentation]. Western Psychological Association Convention, San Francisco, CA.

  • Fusaro, M., Golloher, A., & Slusser, E. (2020, April 17-21). Supporting the early childhood workforce: Findings from a social network analysis and training needs assessment. [Poster presentation]. Annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA. (Conference canceled)
  • Fusaro, M., Cook, G., Beeghly, M., Plata-Potter, S. I., Rana, M, Swartz, M. I., & Vallotton, C.D., (2018, June 26). Developing caregiving vignettes as a tool for competence measurement, pedagogy, and practice. Poster presented as part of a symposium at the annual meeting of the Administration for Children and Families’ National Research Conference on Early Childhood, Arlington, VA.
  • Fusaro, M., Lippard, C., Decker, K., & Vallotton, C.D., (2018, June 26). Effects of prior formal and informal caregiving experiences on undergraduates’ infant/toddler caregiving beliefs and attitudes. Poster presented as part of a symposium at the annual meeting of the Administration for Children and Families’ National Research Conference on Early Childhood, Arlington, VA.
  • Chazan‐Cohen, R., Vallotton, C.D., Ispa, J., Fusaro, M., Decker, K., Brophy‐Herb, H. Torquati, J., Roggman, L., Cook, G., Maynard, C. (2019, March 22). Student characteristics that help or hinder learning about infant and toddlers. Poster presented at the Biennial Meeting for the Society for Research in Child Development, Baltimore, MD.

Online Resources

Areas of Research Interest

  • Caregiver-child interaction
  • Children’s questions
  • Cognitive development
  • Early childhood STEM
  • Early childhood teacher preparation
  • Gesture
  • Infant/toddler caregivers
  • Science inquiry

Personality Playlist

Listen to Maria's playlist below and access all of the personality playlists on our Lurie College of Education Spotify account