Texas Tech University

Malinda Colwell, Ph.D.

Professor, Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Student Services
Human Development and Family Sciences

Email: malinda.colwell@ttu.edu

Phone: (806) 834-4179

Office: HS 301H

Member, TTU Teaching Academy
Currently accepting graduate students for Fall 2024

Malinda Colwell

Research Focus

My area of expertise and research interests focus on preschool children's socio-emotional development and how to promote positive socialization and equip young children and families to be healthy, which in turn promotes children's socio-emotional development. I am fascinated by how young children come to identify and then appropriately express their emotions and how that influences their social relationships. When we think about socializing children about emotions, I often think we assume that adults, by virtue of being adults, know how to socialize others about emotions and to promote positive social interactions. And yet, I think the socialization process is not something that we are all naturally inclined to do. Therefore, I am also interested in teacher-child and parent-child relationships and how the quality of those relationships may influence socialization processes.

I am a member of the TTU Coalition for Natural Learning, which is a multidisciplinary team of colleagues in Design and Landscape Architecture. We work to create effective outdoor learning environments for young children, particularly in early childhood settings. Our work is focused on creating outdoor environments that facilitate all areas of child development, particularly socio-emotional development. We are working to assess how children use the outdoor spaces and I am particularly interested in how the outdoor environment is associated with children's social interactions and play types.

In each of these areas, my focus is on the child in the context of family, environment, and educational systems and how to best provide children a solid foundation for social and emotional development.

Areas of Expertise

  • Young children's social and emotional development
  • Parent-child and teacher-child relationships

Selected Publications

Cardenas, J.F., & Colwell, M.J. (accepted). Maternal well-being during initial transition to childcare: Provider social support matters. International Journal of Early Childhood.

Cardenas, J.F., Chapman, J.K., & Colwell, M.J. (2019). Whole child means whole family: Providing support for moms. Early Years: The Journal of the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children.

Pearson, M., Gaines, K., Pati, D., Colwell, M.J., & Motheral, L. (2019). The Physiological impact of window murals on pediatric patients. Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 116 – 129.

Rasmussen, E. E., Strouse, G. A., Colwell, M. J., Russo, C., Holiday, S., Brady, K., Flores, I., Troseth, G., Wright, H., Densley, R., & Norman, M. (2019). Promoting preschoolers' Emotional competence through prosocial TV and mobile app use. Media Psychology, 22, 1 – 22.

Chang, H.J., Colwell, M.J., & Walisky, D. (2018). Clothing selection motivations and the meaning of possessions for tweens in a foster care group home. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 42, 47 – 54.

Dotson, W.H., Rasmussen, E.E., Shafer, A., Colwell, M.J., Densley, R.L., Brewer, A.T., Alonzo, M., & Martinez, L.A. (2016). Evaluating the ability of the PBS children's show Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood to teach skills to two young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Behavior Analysis in Practice. doi:10.1007/s40617-016-0134-z

Rasmussen, E.E., Shafer, A., Colwell, M.J., White, S.R., Punyanunt-Carter, N., Densley, R.,& Wright, H. (2016). Relation between active mediation, exposure to Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood and U.S. preschoolers' social and emotional development. Journal of Children and Media, 10, 443-461. DOI: 10.1080/17482798.2016.1203806.

Colwell, M.J., Gaines, K., Pearson, M., Corson, K., Wright, H.D., & Logan, B.J. (2016). Space, place, and privacy: Preschool children's secret hiding places. Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, 44, 412-421.

Colwell, M.J., Corson, K., Sastry, A., & Wright, H. (2016). Secret keepers: Children's theory of mind and their conception of secrecy. Early Child Development and Care, 186, 369-381.

Corson, K., Colwell, M.J., Bell, N.J., & Trejos-Castillo, E. (2014). Wrapped up in covers: Preschoolers' secrets and secret hiding places. Early Child Development and Care, 1769-1786.

Corson, K., & Colwell, M. J. (2013). Whispers in the ear: Preschool children's conceptualization of secrets and confidants. Early Child Development and Care, 183, 1215-1228.

Lindsey, E.W., & Colwell, M.J. (2013). Pretend and physical play: Links to preschoolers' affective social competence. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 59, 330-360.

Colwell, M. J. & Lindsey, E. W. (2005). Preschool children's pretend and physical play and gender of peer play partner. Sex Roles, 52, 492-509.

Colwell, M. J., Mize, J., Pettit, G. S., & Laird, R. D. (2002). Contextual determinants of mothers' interventions in young children's peer interactions. Developmental Psychology, 38, 492-502.


Research Website
Early Childhood Development Lab


Meet Associate Professor Malinda Colwell, Ph.D.