Karen Bierman


Evan Pugh Professor of Psychology and Human Development and Family Studies,
Director, Child Study Center


  • Health & Medicine
  • Social Sciences

Focus Areas:

  • Human Development
  • Family Dynamics


  • Bierman can speak to the challenges faced by children and their families during the transition to online K-12 schooling during the coronavirus pandemic as well as mental health concerns for children during this time.
  • She is particularly interested in the use of technology-assisted intervention supports for teachers, parents and children as well as the area of school readiness, linking school-based with family-focused prevention supports, and integrating multi-tiered social-emotional learning programs into school systems.

​Karen Bierman is an Evan Pugh Professor of Psychology and Human Development and Family Studies. Bierman’s research interests are focused on social and emotional learning, coordinated school-based family programs, early childhood to elementary transition, and technology-assisted intervention strategies. Specifically, she is interested in the potential of prevention programming to reduce social disparities in education attainment and mental health. Bierman is in charge of the Head Start REDI (Research-based, developmentally informed) prevention trial, funded by NICHD, which is evaluating the long-term benefits of evidence-based enrichments to Head Start classroom and home visiting programs.

Bierman has published four books and contributed to three published intervention manuals, and authored over 200 articles and chapters, and has served as an educational advisor to a number of organizations devoted to improving early education for disadvantaged children, including Head Start and Sesame Street.

In The Media

“Because friendships play a bigger role in the lives of older children than preschoolers, older children are likely to suffer more during this time of social isolation,” Bierman wrote.

Experts, teachers give advice to parents at home

from The Daily Item March 18, 2020

While schools are shut down, what do you do with the kids at home? "It's very challenging for most parents," said Karen Linn Bierman, professor of child psychology, Penn State University, on Monday. "It's going to be a difficult time because parents are under a lot of stress. They are trying to figure out how they are managing work, they didn't anticipate this is in any way. It is a worrisome situation and that is bound to affect the child's emotions."

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