Sarah Lang is an assistant professor in human development and family science. She is interested in strengthening children’s experiences in childcare by examining the network of relationships and contexts in which children develop, with the goal of ensuring the early childhood workforce is well trained and supported so they can provide high-quality care. Her experience as a practitioner and researcher in the field of early childhood education (ECE) informs her work. Lang has utilized qualitative and quantitative methods to examine the experiences of families and ECE teachers, and to identify factors that support ECE teachers’ use of quality practices. Connected to her passion and research interests, for the last two years she has directed the Virtual Lab School (VLS) - an online professional development system for child and youth educators. This system integrates evidence-based information on developmentally appropriate, inclusive, and family-centered practices, with adult learning principles, including an emphasis on practice-based coaching, to empower professionals as they build their knowledge and skills around educating young children. The VLS is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and USDA and is the required training system for all military-affiliated childcare staff (28,000+ individuals). To leverage the power of the VLS system within our local community, and investigate its effectiveness within public childcare contexts, the VLS team and Lang have recently launched VLS Momentum, a pilot project that will support the training of more than 100 ECE teachers in Columbus, Ohio.
- PhD, The Ohio State University, Human Development and Family Science, 2014
- MS, Human Ecology, The Ohio State University, 2004
- BS, Psychology, The Ohio State University, Psychology, 2001
- Child Care and Support Services Management
- Child Development
- Early childhood teacher/family child care provider practices and training that affect early childhood development
- Impact of caregiving on earl childhood development
- Early Childhood Education and Teaching
- Early childhood program quality
- Early childhool teacher training and workforce development
- Infant toddler teachers
- Parent-teacher cocaring relationships
- Human Development and Family Studies
- Kindergarten/Preschool Education and Teaching
- LGBTQ+ Studies
- Teacher Education
- Workforce Development and Education
Research across multiple fields of study has confirmed the importance of children’s earliest experiences. The responsive care, or lack thereof, that children receive in their first five years of life has impact on their own trajectories, influencing their educational and occupational attainment, involvement in the criminal justice system, physical and mental health, and on the wellbeing of our whole society. Thus, the adults in young children’s lives hold an immense responsibility, they need to be prepared to provide the nurturing interactions and developmentally appropriate learning experiences that support healthy development. However, within the United States, the majority of teachers and providers serving young children are undereducated, and, on average, the quality of early care and education (ECE) settings across our nation is low, with infants and toddlers, and children from adverse contexts, such as living in poverty, being even less likely to receive high quality ECE.
Lang’s research focuses on understanding and improving quality care settings for young children. Using a systems framework, her goal is to illuminate the complex ways that contexts influence children’s development and examine interventions that are attentive to the network of relationships that surround and influence children. Her early research identified characteristics within families, across co-parenting partners, which influence parental involvement, and explored how different patterns of parental involvement are associated with infant and toddler development. More recently, I have focused on childcare contexts, identifying key components of parent-teacher, or co-caring relationships, and how these are associated with parental involvement, parent-child relationships, teacher-child relationships, and young children’s social emotional adjustment. Measures I developed during this research (i.e., the Cocaring Relationship Questionnaire – Parent and Teacher Versions) are currently being used in large national data projects (e.g., the BabyFaces 2018 project). I have also utilized national data sets to research characteristics of care providers and programs that are associated with providers’ capacity to sensitively respond to children, and recently led a community-based research study of an intervention aimed at strengthening teachers’ ability to manage their own emotional well-being. This intervention had a significant impact on teachers’ knowledge and use of stress reduction techniques and their responsiveness to children.
Lang’s current research project (data collection ongoing) examines the use of the Virtual Lab School (VLS) professional development system to support the education, practice, and credentialing of early childhood teachers in central Ohio (VLS Momentum). This project is designed not only to investigate the effectiveness of the VLS system, but through the use of self-report questionnaires and objective blind observers it will also facilitate the examination of various factors that may impact teachers’ practices, including their coaching partnership and the program context, as well as factors that influence program quality. This community-based project is a partnership between the City of Columbus, Future Ready Columbus and the Virtual Lab School at The Ohio State University.
2016-2020, Department of Defense through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Expansion and Refinement of the Virtual Lab School, an Innovative Professional Development and Training System for Childcare Professionals. Co-Principal Investigator. Total grant funding awarded, >$5,000,000.
- Lang, S. N., Jeon, L., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., & Wells, M. B. (Under review). Associations between parent-teacher cocaring relationships, parent-child relationships, and young children’s social emotional development.
- Lang, S.N., Jeon, L., Buettner, C. K., & Brothers, B. E.* (Under review). Social Emotional Learning for Teachers: An online intervention to increase childcare teachers’ resilience.
- Zvara, B. J., Altenburger, L. E., & Lang, S. N., Schoppe-Sullivan, S.J.(2019). The role of coparenting in the association between parental neuroticism and harsh intrusive parenting. Journal of Family Psychology, Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1037/fam0000555
- Jeon, L., Buettner, C. K., Grant, A. A., & Lang, S. N. (2018). Early childhood teachers’ stress and children’s social, emotional and behavioral functioning. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. DOI: 10.1016/j.appdev.2018.02.002
- Maras*, E. Q., Lang, S. N., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J. (2018). An observational assessment of parent-teacher cocaring relationships in infant-toddler classrooms. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 26(2), 212-228. DOI: 10.1080/1350293X.2018.1442033
- Lang, S. N., Mouzourou, C., Jeon, L., Buettner, C. K., & Hur, E. (2017). Preschool teachers’ professional training, observational feedback, child-centered beliefs and motivation: Direct and indirect associations with social and emotional responsiveness. Child & Youth Care Forum, 46(1), 69-90. DOI:10.1007/s10566-016-9369-7
- Lang, S. N., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., & Jeon, L. (2017). Examining a self-report measure of parent-teacher cocaring relationships and associations with parental involvement. Early Education and Development, 28(1), 96-114. DOI:10.1080/10409289.2016.1195672
- Altenburger, L. E., Lang, S. N., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., Kamp Dush, C. M., & Johnson, S. C. (2017). Toddlers’ differential susceptibility to the effects of coparenting on social-emotional adjustment. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 41(2), 228-237. DOI: 10.1177/0165025415620058
- Wells, M. B., & Lang, S. N. (2016). Supporting same-sex mothers in the Nordic child health field: a systematic literature review and meta-synthesis of the most gender equal countries. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 25 (23-24), 3469-3483. DOI: 10.1111/jocn.13340
- Lang, S. N., Tolbert*, A. R., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., & Bonomi, A. (2016). A cocaring framework for infants and toddlers: Applying a model of coparenting to parent–teacher relationships. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 34 (1), 40-52. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2015.08.004
- Jia, R., Lang, S. N., & Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J. (2016). A developmental examination of the psychometric properties and predictive utility of a revised psychological self-concept measure for preschool-aged children. Psychological Assessment, 28(2), 226-238. DOI: 10.1037/a0039403
- Altenburger, L. E., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., Lang, S.N., Bower, D. J. & Kamp Dush, C. M. (2014). Associations between prenatal coparenting behavior and observed coparenting behavior at 9-months postpartum. Journal of Family Psychology, 28(4), 495-504. DOI: 10.1037/fam0000012
- Lang, S. N., Schoppe-Sullivan, S.J., Feng, X., Kotila, L. E., Kamp Dush, C. M., & Johnson, S. C. (2014). Relations between fathers’ and mothers’ infant engagement patterns in dual-earner families and toddler competence. Journal of Family Issues, 35(8), 1107-1127. DOI: 10.1177/0192513X14522243
- Lang, S. N., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., Kotila, L. E., & Kamp Dush, C. M. (2013). Daily parenting engagement among new mothers and fathers: The role of romantic attachment in dual-earner families. Journal of Family Psychology, 27(6), 826-872. DOI: 10.1037/a0034510
- Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., Kotila, L., Jia, R., Lang, S. N., & Bower, D. J. (2013). Comparisons of levels and predictors of mothers’ and fathers’ engagement with their preschool aged children. Early Child Development and Care, 183(3-4), 498-514. DOI: 10.1080/03004430.2012.711596
- Lang, S. N., Buettner, C. K. (July, 2019). Virtual Lab School: An Evidence-Based Workforce Development System for Improving Teachers' Practices, Ensuring Program Quality & Creating Career Pathways, part of the Early Childhood State Systems: Partnering with Higher Education to Build Flexible Career Pathways symposium. Invited presentation at the State and Territory Child Care and Development Fund Administrators Meeting (STAM), U.S. Administration for Children and Families, Office of Child Care.
- Lang, S. N., Buettner, C. K., Basloe, M., Jeon, L. (2019, August). Building a system: Launching comprehensive ECE training with coaching support for new staff. Presented at the European Early Childhood Education Research Association Conference, Thessaloniki, Greece.
- Lang, S. N. (2019, March). Symposium Chair, It takes a village: Exploring the antecedents, outcomes and patterns of family engagement in ECE. Society for Research in Child Development, Baltimore, Maryland.
- Lang, S. N., Jeon, L., Wells, M. B. (2019, March). Direct and indirect associations between cocaring, parent-child relationships and toddlers’ social emotional adjustment. Presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Baltimore, Maryland.
- Buettner, C. K., Lang, S. N. (2019, March). Family-teacher relationships and program family engagement: Associations with preschoolers’ social and behavioral outcomes. Presented at biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Baltimore, Maryland.
- Owens, J., & Lang, S. N. (2018, November). Social-emotional learning for teachers (SELF-T): Helping teachers manage stress and care for their own social-emotional health. Presented at the National Association for the Education of Young Children 2018 Annual Conference, Washington, D.C.
- Lang, S.N., Jeon, L., Buettner, C. K., Wells, M. B. (2018, August). Examination of coaching as a professional development strategy for ECE professionals: What are we missing? Presented at The European Early Childhood Education Research Association Conference, Budapest, Hungary.
- Lang, S. N., Jeon, L., Buettner, C.K. (2018, June). Social Emotional Learning for Teachers (SELF-T): A short-term online intervention to increase early childhood educators’ resilience. Poster presented at the National Research Conference on Early Childhood, Washington, D.C.
- Lang, S. N., Buettner, C.K., & Jeon, L. (2017, August). Am I valued? Unpacking the stress in the professional lives of ECE Teachers. Presented at the European Early Childhood Research Association Conference, Bologna, Italy.
- Lang, S. N., Mouzourou, C., Jeon, L., Buettner, C.K., & Hur, R.E. (2017, April). Preschool teachers’ professional training, feedback, beliefs and motivation: Associations with social and emotional responsiveness. Presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Austin, Texas.
- Lang, S. N., Jeon, L., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J. (2016, June). Examining infant-toddler teachers’ attachment style, teacher-child relationships, and children’s social-emotional adjustment. Presented at the Society for Prevention Research, San Francisco, California.
- Lang, S. N. (2016, May). Symposium chair, Examining parent-teacher relationships in infant and toddler care: How they work, their correlates, and a positive intervention. Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, New Orleans, Louisiana.
- Jeon, L., Buettner, C. K., Lang, S. N., Pierce*, J., & Garcia*, R. (2016, May). Family childcare providers’ relationships with parents and self-reported closeness and conflicts with children in care. Poster presented at the Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, New Orleans, Louisiana.
- Wells, M. B., Lang, S. N., Jeon, L., & Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J. (2016, May). Children’s social-emotional adjustment and the importance of the parent-teacher cocaring relationship. Poster presented at the Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, New Orleans, Louisiana.
- Maras*, E. Q., Lang, S. N., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J. (2016, May). An Observational Assessment of Parent-Teacher Relationships in Infant-Toddler Classrooms to Examine Predictors of Cocaring Quality. Poster presented at the Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, New Orleans, Louisiana.
- Lang, S. N., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., Jeon, L., Maras*, E. (2015, November). A new way to think about parent-teacher relationships in early childhood: Cocaring and how it links to parental involvement and children's social-emotional challenges and strengths. Presented at the National Association for the Education of Young Children 2015 Annual Conference, Orlando, Florida
- Lang, S.N., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., & Jeon, L. (2015, March). Multidimensional parent-teacher relationships: Cocaring and its associations with child adjustment and teacher-child relationships. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- Bailey*, Q., Lang, S. N., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., & Ferrari, T. (2015, March). Experiences of Adolescents Participating in Operation: Military Kids (OMK). Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- Lang, S. N., Tolbert*, A. R., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., & Bonomi, A. (2014, June). Cocaring: How do parents and infant-toddler teachers conceive their relationships with each other? Poster presented at the 14th World Congress of the World Association for Infant Mental Health, Edinburgh, Scotland.
- Lang, S. N., Creagh, C., & Adams, M. (2014, April). Supporting gender creative children in childcare. Presented at the Ohio Early Care & Education Conference, Columbus, Ohio.