Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Dr Laura McFarland

Dr Laura McFarland

B.A (psychology), M.A . and Ph.D. (Human development and family sciences) The University of Texas at Austin

Laura earned her doctorate in Human Development and Family Sciences, with a focus on early childhood, at The University of Texas. Laura has taught early childhood subjects at The University of Texas and Charles Sturt University in child guidance, early childhood curriculum, research in early childhood and child development. Laura was also was a lead teacher of infants and toddlers at the University of Texas Lab School, and has worked as a parent educator for a community health organisation. Laura's research focuses on supporting parent-child and teacher-parent relationships, child guidance and environmental sustainability in early childhood. Laura has a specific interest in the birth – two educational sector.

Honours and Awards:

2016       Australian Government Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT), citation for sustained excellence in scholarship in early childhood education that enhances student learning by connecting research, families and communities

2015      CSU Faculty of Education Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning

2015      CSU Faculty & Division Awards for Academic Excellence

2006      HDFS Excellence in Teaching Award, University of Texas

2000       American Association for University Women Fellowship, University of Texas

2000       Estelle B. Sharp Memorial Scholarship, University of Texas

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Research Interests:

-          Guidance and children's well-being

-          Parent-child attachment

-          Strengths approaches to supporting educator-family partnerships

-          Environmental sustainability in early childhood settings

Research Grants:

2017: Department of Education and Training ($10,898.60). Consultation on the Triple P Parenting Program offered through Gateway Health, for Fathers and Grandparents in Rural Victoria

2015: Hume Partners in Recovery Innovation Fund ($12,033). Gateway Health/CSU partnership: Evaluation of a newly developed strengths-based, recovery-focused program for parents with mental health issues

2014: CSU Rural and Regional Schools Development Program ($1,000). Supporting children with additional needs related to language, speech and hearing to participate more fully in the learning environment.

2014: CSU Rural and Regional Schools Development Program ($1,000). A strengths approach resource package for supporting children and families.

2012: CSU Green Sustainability Grant ($14,200). Bright beginnings in regional NSW

2007: Faculty of Education Research Development Fund ($5,634.91). Bringing professional experience to the rural university classroom: authentic learning and engagement with communities.

2008: CSU Small Grant ($4,734.50). Bringing professional experience to the rural university classroom through play groups and parenting sessions: authentic learning and engagement with communities.

2008: CSU Faculty of Education Research Development Fund ($2,217.96). Pre-service primary teachers' experiences in early childhood: A case study examination.

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  • Relationships and Pedagogy: Birth - Two
  • Leadership and Management in Early Childhood
  • Research and Practice in Early Childhood Education
  • Environmental Sustainability in Early Childhood
  • Transitions in Early Childhood

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Research networks

Excellence in Early Years Education Collaborative Research Network (CRN)

Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education (RIPPLE)

Professional organizations

Early Childhood Australia

Australian Association for Environmental Education


Deputy Chair, School of Education Research Committee

School of Education Learning and Teaching Committee

Faculty of Arts and Education Board

Reviewer for

Early Childhood Research Quarterly

Journal of Australian Research in Early Childhood Education

Australasian Journal of Early Childhood

Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology

Allen & Unwin Publishers

McGraw-Hill Publishers

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Refereed Journal Articles

McFarland, L. (in press). Parents' and Early Childhood Educators' Attitudes and Practices in Relation to Children's Outdoor Risky Play. Early Childhood Education Journal.

McFarland, L. & Dealtry, L. (in press). Hearing in the early childhood setting: Children's perspectives. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood.

McFarland, L. & Dealtry, L. (2017). The impact of a sound amplification system in a preschool setting: Children's and educators' perspectives. Asia-Pacific Journal of Research in Early Childhood Education, 11(1), 1-21.

McFarland, L., Murray, E., & Phillipson, S. (2016). Student-teacher relationships and student self-concept: Relations with teacher and student gender. Australian Journal of Education. doi:10.1177/0004944115626426

Fenton, A., MacDonald, A. & McFarland-Piazza, L. (2016). A Strengths Approach to supporting early mathematics learning in family contexts. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 41(1), 45 – 53.

Phillipson, S. & McFarland, L. (2016). Australian parenting and adolescent boys' and girls' academic performance and mastery: The mediating effect of perceptions of parenting and sense of school membership. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 25, 2021-2033.doi: 10.1007/s10826-016-0364-2

Murray, E., McFarland-Piazza, L., & Harrison, L. J. (2014). Changing patterns of parent-teacher communication and parent involvement from preschool to school. Early Child Development and Care. doi:10.1080/03004430.2014.975223.  

Gull-Laird, S., McFarland-Piazza, L., & Allen, S. (2014).Young children's opportunities for unstructured environmental exploration of nature: Links to adults' experiences in childhood. International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education, 2(1), 58-73.

Fenton, A., & McFarland-Piazza, L. (2014). Supporting early childhood pre-service teachers in their work with children, families, and communities with complex needs: A strengths approach. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 35(1), 22-38, doi: 10.1080/10901027.2013.874384

McFarland-Piazza, L., Allen, S., & Webb, R. (2013). Documenting the transition experiences of children, families and staff through the relocation and integration of two Australian early childhood services. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 38(4).

Wong, S., Murrary, E., Rivalland, C., Monk, H., Piazza-McFarland, L. & Daniel, G. (2013). Relationships matter: Forming a collaborative educational researcher group. Australian Educational Researcher. doi:10.1007/s13384-013-0127-7.

Carmichael, C., MacDonald, A., & McFarland-Piazza, L. (2013). Predictors of numeracy performance in national testing programs: Insights from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. British Educational Research Journal. doi: 10.1002/berj.3104

McFarland-Piazza, L., Lord, A., Downey, B. & Smith, M. (2012). Community-based play groups and family involvement in pre-service teacher education. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 37(2), 34-41.

McFarland-Piazza, L. & Saunders, R. (2012). Hands-on parent support in positive guidance:  Early childhood professionals as mentors. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 37(1), 65-73.

Saunders, R., McFarland-Piazza, L., Hazen-Swann, N., Burton, R. & Jacobvitz, D. (2012). Maternal knowledge and behaviours regarding discipline: The effectiveness of a hands-on education program in positive guidance. Journal of Child and Family Studies, doi: 10.1007/s10826-012-9581-5.

McFarland-Piazza, L., Hazen, N., Jacobvitz, D., & Boyd, E. (2011). The development of father-child attachment: Associations between adult attachment representations, recollections of childhood experiences and caregiving. Early Child Development and Care, doi:10.1080/03004430.2011.573071

Lord, A. & McFarland, L. (2010). Pre-Service primary teacher's experiences in early childhood; A case study examination. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 35(3), 1-13.doi: 10.14221/ajte.2010v35n3.1

Hazen, N., McFarland, L., Jacobvitz, D., & Boyd-Soisson, E. (2010). Fathers' frightening behaviours and sensitivity with infants: relations with fathers' attachment representations, father–infant attachment,and children's later outcomes. Early Child Development and Care, 18(1), 51-69. doi: 10.1080/03004430903414703

McFarland L. Saunders R., & Allen, S. (2009). Reflective practice and self-evaluation in learning positive guidance: Experiences of early childhood practicum students. Early Childhood Education Journal, 36(6),505-511. doi: 10.1007/s10643-009-0315-2

McFarland, L. & Lord, A. (2008). Bringing professional experience to the rural university classroom: Learning and engagement with communities. Education in Rural Australia, 18(1), 23-42.

McFarland, L., Saunders, R., Allen, S. (2008). Learning and teaching positive guidance skills: Lessons from early childhood practicum students. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 29(3), 204-221.doi:   10.1080/10901020802275294

McFarland, L. (2008). Anecdotal records: Valuable tools for assessing young children's development. Dimensions; Journal of the Southern Early Childhood Association, 36(1), 31-36.

McFarland, L. & Adhikary, M. (2006). Bringing multiple intelligences outdoors. Texas Child Care Quarterly, 30(2), 24-33.

Hazen, N., Jacobvitz, D., McFarland, L. (2005). Antecedents of boundary disturbances in families with young children: Intergenerational transmission and parent-infant caregiving patterns. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 5(2/3), 85- 110. doi: 10.1300/J135v05n02_05


Conference Presentations

Muller, M., MacDonald, A., Fenton, A., & McFarland, L. (2016). Strengths approach resource kits for supporting vulnerable children and families. Poster presented at the annual Early Childhood Australia conference. Darwin, Northern Territory. Australia.

Saunders, R. & McFarland-Piazza, L. (2010). Communicating with and educating parents about the benefits of positive guidance. Session presented at the annual Texas Association for the Education of Young Children conference. Austin, Texas.

Lord, A. & McFarland-Piazza, L. (2010). Pre-Service primary teachers experiences in early childhood; A case study examination. Paper presented at the annual Australian Teacher Education Association conference, Townsville, Queensland.

McFarland, L., Lord, A., Downey, B., & Smith, M. (2008). Community involvement and participation in children's services: Implications for quality. Paper presented at the annual Australian Association for Research in Education conference, Brisbane, Queensland.

Lord, A. & McFarland, L. (2007). Bringing professional experience to the rural university classroom: Authentic learning and engagement with communities. Paper presented at the annual Australian Association for Research in Education conference, Freemantle, Western Australia.

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