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

  • Smith, M.C., & Fusaro, M. (2020). Imagination and fantasy: Correlates of preschoolers’ science relevant inquisitiveness. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, doi:10.1177/0276236620963928
  • 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

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)
  • 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.
  • 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.

Noteworthy Grants and Awards

  • Level-Up Grant (Co-PI), Office of Research and Innovation, San Jose State University, Awarded $20,000, Nov 2020-Oct 2021.
  • Evaluation of Virtual Programming Standards (PI), San Jose Public Library Early Education, City of San Jose, Awarded $9900, July 2020-June 2021.

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