Heather J. Bachman
Associate Professor

Associate Professor
Department of Health and Human Development

My research agenda centers on early academic and social development, family and classroom processes, and policy-relevant research with low-income children and families. I have been funded by the NICHD, the NSF, the Spencer Foundation, the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, and the Learning, Research, and Development Center to examine key contextual factors in the home, classroom, and public policies that promote low-income children’s well-being.

My research is informed by a variety of multidisciplinary perspectives including developmental psychology, education, sociology, and economics. My work involves longitudinal secondary data analysis of large datasets to examine national trends, as well as regional, mixed methods, primary data collection with community partner organizations to unpack mechanisms and processes. Most of my prior work with large, longitudinal data sets involved studying the contribution of home and classroom characteristics for attenuating or exacerbating income disparities in achievement and behaviors during the pre-K and elementary school years in the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K, 1998 & 2010 cohorts).

In my regional work, for three years (2007-2010), I was funded by the Spencer Foundation to collect time-sampled classroom observations, parent interviews, and math, reading, and socioemotional child assessments from 289 families from 30 child care centers in low-income communities (the Pitt School Readiness Study). The project team has launched two new federally funded projects with families of 4 year-olds (NICHD) and 2 year-olds (NSF) to examine home environment influences on early math development across SES.

Instructional Interests

Teaching Interests

  • The home environment as a central developmental context for young children

  • Family processes, strengths, and structures across diverse families (e.g., SES, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ)

  • Quantitative research methods for deriving causal inference

Department of Health and Human Development

  • Doctoral seminars: Research Methods (PSYED 3910) and Family Influences on Children’s Development (PSYED 3539).

  • Undergraduate Courses: Child Development from 0-7 years of age (PSYED 1002)

  • I also teach EDUC 2000, Master’s (MEd) program course on students’ learning and motivation in school for the Dept. of Teaching, Learning, and Leading.

Scholarly Interests

  • Increasing young children’s access to opportunities to learn math, particularly at home and in preschool

  • Poverty influences on children’s development and family well-being

  • Anti-poverty and early childhood education policies

Selected Grants

5/1/19 – 4/31/24 Melissa Libertus (PI). How parents support young children’s mathematical thinking across SES. RO1 grant from the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD, $3,056,395). Role: Co-investigator.

9/1/19 – 8/31/22 Heather Bachman and Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal (Co-PIs). Early Emergence of Socioeconomic Disparities in Mathematical Understanding. EHR Core grant from the National Science Foundation ($2,108,317).

Featured Publications

  • Elliott, L., Bachman, H. J., & Henry, D. (2020). Why and how do parents promote math learning with their young children? Parenting: Science and Practice, 20(2), 108-140. https://doi.org/10.1080/15295192.2019.1694830

  • Bachman, H. J., Elliott, L., Scott, P., & Navarro, M. G. (2020). Latino children’s academic and behavioral trajectories in early elementary school: Examining home language differences within preschool types. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 52, 138-153. In ECRQ special issue, “Early Care and Education among Latino Families; Access, Utilization, and Impacts”. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecresq.2018.04.005

  • Elliott, L. & Bachman, H. J. (2018). How do parents foster young children’s math skills? Child Development Perspectives, 12(1), 16-21.

  • Bachman, H. J., Degol, J. L., Elliott, L., Scharphorn, L., El Nokali, N. E., & Palmer, K. M. (2017). Preschool math exposure in private center-based care and low-SES children’s math development. Early Education and Development, 29, 417-434.

  • Bachman, H. J., Votruba-Drzal, E., El Nokali, N. & Heatly, M. C. (2015). Opportunities for learning math in elementary school: Implications for SES disparities in procedural and conceptual math skills. American Educational Research Journal, 52, 894-923.

Awards and Honors

  • 2020 - Joined the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) as a Research Associate

  • 2008 - Faculty Research Award, School of Education, University of Pittsburgh

Engagement, Partnerships, and Professional Service

  • 2018-present Editorial Board, Early Childhood Research Quarterly

  • 2014-2020 Evaluator for DOE Ready to Learn projects for community partner, WQED (Pittsburgh PBS affiliate)

  • 2019 Invited member of Preschool Parent Survey Content Review Panel (CRP) for the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2022-23 (ECLS-K:2023).
Heather J. Bachman


University of Pittsburgh
5318 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

View CV