Arya Ansari

Headshot of Arya Ansari

Assistant Professor, Department of Human Sciences

Program Area: Human Development and Family Science

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Arya Ansari is an assistant professor of Human Development and Family Science in the College of Education and Human Ecology and a faculty associate at the Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy. His research program investigates how contextual factors influence the early development of low-income and minority children, with the aim of intervening and informing policies that can minimize the opportunity gap in the United States.


  • PhD, Human Development and Family Sciences, University of Texas at Austin, 2016
  • MA, Human Development and Family Sciences, University of Texas at Austin, 2013
  • BA, Psychology, George Mason University, 2011

Research Interests

Research Summary

Ansari’s current research falls under two broader umbrellas. His first line of research is focused on the role of publicly funded preschool programs in shaping children’s short-and long-term school success and identifying mechanisms of such program benefits—not just whether programs prepare children for school, but also how and why. Ansari's second line of work concentrates on how the home context promotes the early educational success of children, both independently and conjointly with the school system, and how early education and two-generation programs can facilitate this interaction between the home and school.


  • Assistant Professor, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH (2019-present)
  • Research Assistant Professor, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA (2018-2019)
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA (2016-2018)

Selected Grants

Understanding the Needs and Experiences of Early Head Start Families Before and After COVID-19: A Nationally Representative Investigation (2023-2025, Administration for Children and Families, $100,000). The primary goal of this project is to shed light on the needs and experiences of Early Head Start children and families during the pre- and post-pandemic periods. (PI: Ansari, Co-PI: Purtell).

Reducing Chronic Absenteeism in Columbus City Schools: A School District-University Partnership (2023-2024, The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology Office of Research, $100,000). This project assess the root causes of chronic absenteeism and evaluates Columbus City School’s attendance improvement strategies focused on prevention and early intervention among pre-K-12 students. (PI: Ansari, Co-Is: Plasman, Purtell, & Julian).

Children’s Early Educational Experiences and their Social and Behavioral Development (2023-2025, National Institute of Health, $150,260). This project uses multiple datasets to identify the factors during preschool and kindergarten that influence children’s social and behavioral development (MPI: Ansari & Purtell).

Classroom Age Composition and Children’s Early Learning: Understanding the Role of Classroom Practices (2019-2024, Institute for Educational Sciences, $1,399,962). The main objectives of this project are to provide a more nuanced understanding of associations between preschool classroom age composition, classroom practices, and children’s early learning and social development. (PI: Purtell; Co-PIs: Ansari, Logan, and Justice).

Present, Engaged, and Ready to Learn: The School Absences of America’s Youngest Children (2018-2020, Spencer Foundation, $49,875). This project used a theoretically-grounded approach to understand the patterns and outcomes of absenteeism at ages 3 and 4, and the extent to which absenteeism detracts from the benefits children may derive from exposure to enriched early childhood learning environments. (PI: Ansari).

Do Excessive School Absences Link to Children’s Social-behavioral Development and Executive Functioning? (2019-2021, National Institute of Health, $169,775). This project used nationally representative data to: (1) identify malleable and policy-relevant school and classroom factors that influence children’s school absences; and (2) determine whether kindergarten absenteeism is linked with children’s social-behavioral development and executive functioning. (PI: Ansari; Co-PI: Gottfried).

Selected Publications

  • Ansari, A., Zimmermann, K., Pianta, R. C, Whittaker, J. E., Vitiello, V. E., Yang, Q., & Ruzek, E. (in press). The first-grade outcomes of pre-K attendees: Examining benefits as a function of environments, skill type, and subgroups. American Educational Research Journal
  • Zimmermann, K., Yang, Q., Purtell, K. M., & Ansari, A. (in press). Pre-K attendance and social development: The moderating effect of kindergarten classroom experiences. Infant and Child Development.
  • Ansari, A., Yang, Q., Purtell, K. M., Lin, T.-J., & Justice, L. M. (2023). Kindergartners’ peer relationships and early school absenteeism. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 86, 101529.
  • Burchinal, M., Pianta, R.C., Ansari, A., Whittaker, J. E., & Vitiello, V. E. (2023). Kindergarten academic and social skills and exposure to peers with pre-kindergarten experience. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 62, 41-52.
  • Yang, Q., Ansari, A., Purtell, K. M., Pianta, R.C., Whittaker, J. E., & Vitiello, V. E, (2023). Classroom skills composition and preschoolers’ academic and executive function outcomes. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 64, 290-301.
  • Ansari, A., & Winsler, A. (2022). The long-term benefits of Montessori pre-K for Latinx children from low-income families. Applied Developmental Science, 26, 252-266.
  • Ansari, A., Pianta, R. C., Whittaker, J. E., Vitiello, V. E, & Ruzek, E. (2022). Preschool teachers’ emotional exhaustion in relation to classroom instruction and teacher-child interactions. Early Education and Development, 33, 107-120.
  • Gottfried, M. A. & Ansari, A. (2022). Classrooms with high rates of absenteeism and individual success: Exploring students’ achievement, executive function, and social-behavioral outcomes. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 59, 215-227.
  • Yang, Q., Bartholomew, C., Ansari, A., & Purtell, K. M. (2022). Classroom age composition and preschoolers’ language and literacy gains: The role of classroom engagement. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 60, 49-58.
  • Ansari, A., & Gottfried, M. A. (2021). The grade-level and cumulative outcomes of absenteeism. Child Development, e548-e564.
  • Ansari, A., & Markowitz, A. J. (2021). Can parents do it all? Changes in parent involvement from 1997-2009 among Head Start families. Children and Youth Services Review, 120, 105780.
  • Ansari, A., Pianta, R. C., Whittaker, J. E., Vitiello, V. E., & Ruzek, E. (2021). Enrollment in public pre-kindergarten and school readiness skills at kindergarten entry: Differential associations by home language, income, and program characteristics. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 54, 60-71.
  • Ansari, A., Hofkens, T., & Pianta, R. C. (2020). Absenteeism in the first decade of education forecasts civic engagement and educational and socioeconomic prospects in young adulthood. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 49, 1835-1848.
  • Ansari, A., Hofkens, T., & Pianta, R. C. (2020). Teacher-student relationships across the first seven years of education and adolescent outcomes. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 71,101200.
  • Markowitz, A. J., & Ansari, A. (2020). Changes in academic instructional experiences in Head Start classrooms from 2001-2015. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 53, 534-550.
  • Ansari, A., Pianta, R. C., Whittaker, J. V., Vitiello, V. E, & Ruzek, E. A. (2019). Starting early: The benefits of attending early childhood education programs at age 3. American Educational Research Journal, 56, 1495-1523.
  • Yan, N., Ansari, A., & Wang, Y. (2019). Intrusive parenting and child externalizing behaviors across childhood: The antecedents and consequences of child-driven effects. Journal of Family Psychology, 33, 661-670. doi: 10.1037/fam0000551
  • Ansari, A. (2018). The persistence of preschool effects from early childhood through adolescence. Journal of Educational Psychology, 110, 952-973.
  • Ansari, A., & Purtell, K. M. (2018). Absenteeism in Head Start and children’s academic learning. Child Development, 89, 1088-1098.
  • Pianta, R. C., & Ansari, A. (2018). Does attendance in private schools predict student outcomes at age 15? Evidence from a longitudinal study. Educational Researcher, 47, 419-434.
  • Ansari, A.(2017). The selection of preschool for immigrant and native-born Latino families in the U.S. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 41, 149-160.
  • Ansari, A., López, M. L., Manfra, L., Bleiker, C., Dinehart, L. H. B., Hartman, S. C. & Winsler, A. (2017). Differential third grade outcomes associated with attending publicly funded preschool programs for low-income, Latino children. Child Development, 88, 1743-1756.
  • Ansari, A., & Gershoff, E. T. (2016). Parent involvement in Head Start and children’s development: Indirect effects through parenting. Journal of Marriage and Family, 78, 562-579.
  • Ansari, A., Purtell, K. M., & Gershoff, E. T. (2016). Classroom age composition and the school readiness of 3- and 4-year-olds in the Head Start program. Psychological Science, 27, 53-63.
  • Crosnoe, R., Purtell, K. M., Davis-Kean, P., Ansari, A., & Benner, A. D. (2016). The selection of children from low-income families into pre-K. Developmental Psychology.52, 599-612.