Texas Tech University

Michael McCarty, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Human Development and Family Sciences

Email: michael.mccarty@ttu.edu

Phone: (806) 834-8164

Office: HS 303C

Currently accepting graduate students for Fall 2022

Michael McCarty

Research Focus

The focus of my research begins with perceptual-motor development in infants. The primary issues involve coordination among sensory systems (seeing, hearing, touching, and proprioception) and motor domains (eye movements, reaching, and posture control).  What perceptual information does one need to act adaptively within the environment?  Sample topics include whether a toddler can control posture when unable to see the surroundings, and the role of seeing the hand when reaching.

Effective actions require prospective control, which involves using knowledge to guide actions.  Research areas include eye movements in anticipation of the predictable appearance of objects, and pre-orienting the hand during a reach to grasp an object efficiently.  Prospective control of a sequence of actions may involve planning.  Specifically, planning occurs when the goal influences initial actions.  Tool-use, and more specifically spoon use, provides a classic example of planning.  The action sequence includes reaching for and grasping the tool and then using it to achieve a goal.  During the second year, toddlers may plan a sequence of actions in problem-solving tasks by grasping a tool by the handle and with the correct grip so that it is ready to use to achieve one's goal.  The Child Development Research Center and TTU's Early Head Start program are available locations for data collection in these areas.

Emerging from these basic research questions is an interest in individual and group differences.  Why does development in some groups of children lag behind that of others?  What environmental and experiential factors lead to differences in performance and development?  Sample issues include seeking to understand the connection between family income and a child's cognitive performance, and exploring why only some domains of development are impacted by differences in socioeconomic status.

The East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood is funded by the US Department of Education to work with and provide resources to children and families living in a low-income community.  As a co-leader of the early learning domain, we have established the East Lubbock Family Academy to provide learning opportunities to low-income parents and children.  We have designed classes and conducted programs for children and parents to enhance the development of school-readiness skills in early childhood.  We also assess children across multiple domains of development.  Hence, key components of this project include program development, program evaluation, and assessment of children.  

Areas of Expertise

  • Development in the domains of cognition, perception, and action in infants and toddlers
  • Early childhood development in at-risk populations
  • The development, delivery, and assessment of early learning parent-child programs

Selected Publications

McCarty, M. E., Clifton, R. K., & Collard, R. R. (2014). Problem solving in infancy: The emergence of an action plan.  In S. Gelman (Ed.) Childhood Cognitive Development: Vol. 4. Reasoning, Problem-solving, and Academic Skills. Sage Publications.

Bentley, G. E., Zvonkovic, A., McCarty, M., & Springer, N., (2015). Down Syndrome and fathering: An exploration of ambiguous loss.  Fathering, 13, 1-17.


East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood

TTU Early Head Start

Child Development Research Center