Natalia Palacios

Associate Professor

  • Ph.D., Northwestern University, 2009
  • M.A., Northwestern University, 2007
  • B.A., Brown University, 2001

Natalia Palacios, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Educational Psychology and Applied Developmental Sciences program in the Curry School of Education. She studies the school readiness and academic achievement of children from low-income, minority or immigrant backgrounds, with particular attention to Latino children. Palacios is the co-chair of the Student and Early Career Council (SECC) for the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD). 

Research Interests

My research addresses a critical challenge facing U.S. education. I study low-income, immigrant populations and the ways in which families and schools promote (or inhibit) children's development. My work concentrates primarily on Latino children and families. Most research on Latino children focuses on the achievement gap between Latino and White children that is evident at kindergarten entry and grows during the elementary period. Although understanding differences in achievement between racial and ethnic groups is important, this work teaches us very little about the heterogeneity that exists among Latino children and families. Understanding the diversity within Latino populations holds great potential for creating promising, culturally-relevant approaches to boost children's outcomes. I situate my work in two areas of empirical research that tend to be underrepresented in the literature:

  • I examine within-group differences in achievement among Latino children in family and school contexts. In doing so, I address critical questions about heterogeneity among Latino families and children. This research takes a strengths-based, multidisciplinary perspective that recognizes the diversity of children's experiences across contexts.
  • I investigate immigrant children's academic trajectories by exploring how the home environment and classroom context influence academic and social development, with a particular focus on children's language development.

Both lines of research contribute to our knowledge of Latino children and families and guide our understanding of how to leverage the strengths within this growing populations of students. The disciplinary foundation of my intellectual identity is developmental psychology. My research relies on a range of methodological approaches, from regression based quantitative methods, such as HLM and SEM, to qualitative methods, such as case-studies and grounded theory. Regardless of method, my research has an applied focus with the objective of improving the lives of children, particularly in underserved populations.

Research Interests

  • Minority and Immigrant Children
  • English Language Learners
  • Parenting and Cultural Practices in the Home
  • Teacher Interactions with Students
  • Transitions to School

Sample Recent Publications

Palacios, N. (2017). Why all teachers matter: The relationship between long-term teacher and classroom quality and children’s reading achievement. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 31, 178-198. doi:

Palacios, N., Kibler, A. K., & Simpson Baird, A. (2017). Childcare, language use, and vocabulary of second-generation Latino immigrant children. Early Child Development and Care, 187, 690-706. doi: 10.1080/03004430.2016.1223074

Merritt, E., Palacios, N., Banse, H., Rimm-Kaufman, S. & Leis, M., (2017). Teaching practices in grade 5 mathematics classrooms with high-achieving English learner student. The Journal of Educational Research, 110, 17-31. doi: 10.1080/00220671.2015.1034352

Banse, H., Palacios, N., Merritt, E., & Rimm-Kaufman, S. (2017). Scaffolding English language learners’ mathematical talk in the context of calendar math. The Journal of Educational Research, 110, 199-208. doi:

Palacios, N., Kibler, A. K., Yoder, M., Simpson Baird, A., & Bergey, R. (2016). Older sibling support of younger siblings’ socio-emotional development: A multiple-case study of second-generation Mexican and Honduran children’s initiative and co-construction. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 38, 395-419. doi: 10.1177/0739986316658865

Kibler, A., Palacios, N. Simpson Baird, A., Bergey, R., & Yoder, M. (2016). Bilingual Latin@ children’s exposure to language and literacy practices through older siblings in immigrant families. Linguistics and Education, 35, 63-77. doi: 10.1016/j.linged.2016.06.001

Maier, M., Bohlmann, N., & Palacios, N. (2016). Evidence for cross-language transfer among dual language preschoolers. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 36, 49-63. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2015.11.006

Palacios, N., & Kibler, A. (2016). Oral English language proficiency and reading mastery: The role of home language and school supports. The Journal of Educational Research, 109, 122-136.

Simpson Baird, A., Palacios, N., & Kibler, A. (2016). The cognate and false cognate knowledge of emergent bi-literate Latino preschoolers.Language Learning, 66, 448-470. DOI: 10.1111/lang.12160

Palacios, N., Kibler, A., Simpson Baird, A., Parr, A., & Bergey, R., (2015). An examination of language practices during mother-child play activities among Latino immigrant families. International Multilingual Research Journal, 9, 197-219.

Bohlmann, N., Maier, M., & Palacios, N. (2015). Bidirectionality in vocabulary and self-regulation/compliance: Comparisons between monolingual and dual language learners in preschool. Child Development, 86, 1094-1111. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12375

Simpson, A., Kibler, A., & Palacios, N. (2015). ‘Yo te estoy ayudando; estoy aprendiendo tambien/I am helping you; I am learning too’: A bilingual family’s community of practice. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 15, 147-176. doi: 10.1177/1468798414551949

Kibler, A., Palacios, N., & Simpson, A. (2014). The influence of older siblings on language use among second-generation Latino preschoolers.TESOL Quarterly, 48, 164-175. doi: 10.1002/tesq.151

Kibler, A., Salerno, A., & Palacios, N. (2014). ‘But before I go to my next step’: A longitudinal study of adolescent English language learners’ transitions in oral presentations. TESOL Quarterly, 48, 222-251. doi: 10.1002/tesq.96

Palacios, N. (2012). The development of an immigrant advantage in the early school trajectories of Latino preschoolers from low-income immigrant families: The role of language and context. In C. García Coll and A. Marks (Eds.), Is Becoming an American a Developmental Risk? Washington, DC: American Psychological Association (APA) Books.

Palacios, N., Gutmannova, K., & Chase-Lansdale, P. L. (2008). Early reading achievement of children in immigrant families: Evidence from the ECLS-K. Developmental Psychology, 44, 1381-1395.

Chase-Lansdale, P. L., Valdovinos D'Angelo, A., & Palacios, N. (2007). A multidisciplinary perspective on the development of young children in immigrant families. In J. E. Lansford, K. Deater-Deckard, & M. H. Bornstein (Eds.), Immigrant Families in Contemporary Society (pp. 137-156). New York: Guilford Press.