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Photo of Zinsser, Katherine

Katherine Zinsser, PhD

Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Community and Applied Developmental Psychology


Building & Room:

1062C BSB


1007 W Harrison Street

Office Phone:

(312) 996-5494

I am reviewing applications for fall 2024 Heading link

Dr. Zinsser will be reviewing applications for doctoral students to begin Fall 2024.


Katherine (Kate) Zinsser, Ph.D. is an applied developmental psychologist with expertise in early childhood education systems and their impact on children’s early social-emotional development. At UIC, Dr. Zinsser directs the Social-Emotional Teaching and Learning (SETL) Lab which conducts multi-method research on settings, systems, and policies that impact young children’s learning including teacher-child interactions, classroom processes, and emotion socialization practices that promote children’s social-emotional school readiness. She is the co-developer of the EMOTERS tool, an open-access observational assessment of emotion-focused teaching, and the author of No Longer Welcome: The epidemic of early childhood expulsion. Most recently, Dr. Zinsser has worked to proactively support teachers’ engagement in emotion-focused teaching through partnerships with the UIC College of Education where she is a Co-PI of the Alternative Licensure Program (ALP). The ALP is the nation’s only incumbent residency teacher preparation program that focuses on social-emotional teaching practices and is designed to retain the cultural and linguistic diversity of the early childhood workforce.

In addition to conducting action research, Dr. Zinsser teaches and mentors future scholars. At the undergraduate level, Dr. Zinsser teaches PSCH 320: Developmental Psychology. At the graduate-level, Dr. Zinsser has taught Lifespan Development (PSCH 526), the Community Practicum (Seminar in Action Research; PSCH 537), and Mixed-Methods Research (PSCH 538) among others. Graduate and undergraduate students working with Dr. Zinsser in the SETL Lab receive hands on training in observational techniques, quantitative and qualitative methods, and community engaged research values.

Selected Grants

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Accessing High Quality Early Childhood Education during Illinois’ Public Act 100-0105, Co-PI , $225,000

U.S. Department of Education, Teacher Quality Partnership Grant Program, Enhancing and Evaluating the UIC Alternative Licensure Program, Co-PI $3,500,000

Institute of Education Sciences, Department of Education, Development and Validation of the Emotional Teacher Rating Scale (EMOTERS) for Preschool Classrooms. 2016-2020, : PI, $1,400,000

National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Contexts of Discipline: Understanding How Social-Emotional Supports Impact Preschool Suspension and Expulsion Practices, PI, $70,000

Selected Publications

Zinsser, K.M, Silver, H.C., Jackson, V., Shenberger, E. (2022). A systematic review of early childhood exclusionary discipline. Review of Educational Research. DOI:

Zinsser, K. M., Gordon, R., & Jiang, X. (2021). Parents’ socialization of preschool-aged children’s emotional competencies: A meta-analysis using an emotion-focused parenting practices framework. Manuscript accepted at Early Childhood Research Quarterly.

Zinsser, K.M., Main, C., Torres, L., & Connor, K. (2019) Patching the Pathway and Widening the Pipeline: Models for Developing a Diverse Early Childhood Workforce in Chicago. American Journal of Community Psychology. 63 (3-4),  459-471.

Zinsser, K., Zulauf, C., Silver, H.C., & Nair Das, V. (2017). Understanding preschool expulsion through the lens of teacher stress and supports of child SEL. Invited paper at Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 61, 33-42.

Service to Community

Selected Op-Eds & Reports


PhD, George Mason University, 2013

MA, George Mason University, 2010

BA, Smith College, 2005