Jie-Qi Chen, PhD, has had a long and distinguished career in the early childhood field and has earned an international reputation as an expert in early math education, educational implication of multiple intelligences theory, classroom assessment, and teacher professional development.
After beginning her career teaching preschool, elementary school, and middle school in China, and preschool and kindergarten in the United States, she went on to spearhead teacher professional development efforts in Boston and Chicago and enrich assessment and curriculum development in early childhood programs.
As the founder of Erikson’s Early Math Collaborative, Dr. Chen has established a program that has helped educators of young children overcome their anxiety about teaching math and build their understanding in foundational mathematics. The Collaborative takes a unique “whole teacher approach” to professional development that emphasizes development of teachers’ knowledge, attitudes, and practice. With a focus on foundational math concepts — known as “Big Ideas” — that children begin to understand at a young age, the Collaborative helps teachers understand both what to teach and how to teach.
“There was a time when we didn’t believe children could think abstractly,” Dr. Chen says. “Now we know that children have an enormous ability to learn and comprehend abstract concepts as long as we are teaching them in the appropriate way.”
Dr. Chen has published 10 books and numerous scholarly articles, and she is a frequent presenter at conferences around the world. Leaders in countries from China to Denmark have sought her expertise as a consultant or committee member for various early childhood initiatives.
She has earned numerous awards and recognition, including the 2009 Outstanding Teacher Educator’s Award from the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators. She also was named a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Education, a consultant to the United Nations Children’s Fund, and a fellow of Harvard University’s Project Zero’s Classroom.
Dr. Chen brings her deep expertise to the Erikson classroom as well. As a professor, she seeks to go beyond teaching knowledge and skills — she also helps students think about how they can use what they learn in class in their real-world experiences. This, she says, is “understanding,” and it is what distinguishes between a good and great professional.
“Knowledge and skills are the foundations for understanding, but without understanding, knowledge and skills won’t go too far,” she says. “’Understanding’ is the ability to apply knowledge, concepts, and skills acquired in one educational setting to a new situation in which that knowledge is relevant.”
- BA in child development and early education, Beijing Normal University
- MA in curriculum and instruction , University of Northern Iowa
- PhD in applied child development, Tufts University
Areas of Expertise
- Early mathematics education
- Classroom assessment
- Educational implications of multiple intelligences theory
- Teacher learning and development
- Teaching for understanding
- Math All Around Me (MAAM)—Finding mathematics all around me with 0-3 Caregivers Collaborative math — Creating sustainable excellence in mathematics for Head Start programs
- Early STEM matters — Providing high-quality STEM experiences for all young learners
- Achieving high standards for PK-grade 3 mathematics — A whole teacher approach to professional development
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- McCray, J., Chen, J. Q., & Sorkin, J. (In press). (Eds.). Growing mathematical minds: Conversations between developmental psychologists and classroom teachers. New York: Routledge.
- Chen, J.Q. with the Early Childhood STEM Working Group (2017). Early STEM matters; Providing high-quality STEM experiences for all young learners. Chicago, IL: Early Childhood STEM Working Group.
- Gardner, H., Korhhaber, M., & Chen, J. Q. (2017). The theory of Multiple Intelligences: Psychological and educational perspectives. In R. Sternberg (Ed.), The nature of intelligence. New York: Cambridge University Press.
- Chen, J. Q. & Gardner, H. (2017). Assessment from the perspective of multiple-intelligences theory: Principles, practices, and values. In D. P. Flanagan & P. L. Harrison (Eds.), Contemporary Intellectual Assessment: Theories, tests, and issues (4th ed.). New York: Guilford.
- Chen, J. Q. , Hynes-Berry, M., Abel, B., Colleens, S., & Ginet, L. (2017). Nurturing mathematical thinkers from birth: the why, what, and how. Zero to Three, 5(36), 23-33.
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- Chen, J. Q., (2018, March). Multiple intelligences in the classroom. Symposium presentation at the ASCD, Boston, MA.
- Chen, J. Q., Bowman, B. T., & Ray, A. (2017, November). Transforming the early childhood workforce: A national dialogue on next steps in teacher professional development. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of NAEYC, Atlanta, VA.
- Chen, J. Q., (2017, May). Understanding early math education, The First International Conference of Lifelong Learning, Tshinghua University, Beijing, China
- Hynes-Berry, M. Chen, J. Q., Abel, B., & Ginet, L. (2017, June). Infants, toddlers, and twos are mathematicians: How innate precursor mathematical concepts prepare the ground for the conceptual change required for understanding big ideas of math. Paper presented at the Professional Learning Institute of NAEYC, San Francisco, CA.
- Kaldor, T., Chen, J. Q., & Solarski, L. (2017, April). The T and M in STEM: Connecting the big idea in math and technology in early childhood. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the National Head Start Association. Chicago, IL.
- Chen, J. Q. (2017, March). How and why to Integrate STEM into Early Childhood Education, STEM Ecyosystems Webinar organized by the New America.
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Related professional experience
- 2010-Present: Executive Director of China Initiative at Erikson Institute
- 2016-2018 Early Childhood Advisory Board—Scholastic Education, New York
- 2014-2016 Executive Committee Member—Early STEM Working Group, Chicago
- 2014-2017 Member—Illinois Early Learning Council Program Standards and Quality Committee
- 2014-2017 Member—Illinois Early Learning Council Higher Education Learning and Professional Development Committee
- 2011-2016 Advisor—Early Childhood Teacher Professional Development Project in China, United Nations Children’s Fund
- 2012-2015 Early Math Task Force Member—Center for Best Practices of the National Governors Association, Washington, D.C.
- 2012-2015: Director of Doctoral Program at Erikson Institute
- 2007-2015: Principal Investigator, the Early Math Collaborative at Erikson Institute
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