Jennifer Keys Adair

Jennifer Keys Adair

Associate Professor

Early Childhood Education


Office & Hours

Office: SZB 528J

(512) 232-3528

(512) 471-8460

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Courses of Instruction
Undergraduate: ?
Teaching Young Children
Graduate: ?
Parents and Education
Global, Comparative Early Childhood Education
Educational Ethnography
Major Theorists in Early Childhood
Teaching and Teacher Education

Mailing Address
1 University Station
Mailcode D5700
Austin, TX 78712
UT Mail Code: D5700


Jennifer completed a Ph.D. in Anthropology and Education at Arizona State University with an emphasis on Early Childhood Education. Jennifer is a former preschool teacher. Her research and teaching interests focus on the role of race, culture(s) and cross-cultural experiences in early childhood education, with a particular focus on the experiences of teachers, parents and children from immigrant communities. She is concerned with improving educational equity at all levels of early childhood education, particularly through the inclusion of project-based instruction and other agency-producing teaching/learning approaches in the early grades.

She has used the multivocal, videocued ethnographic method with children, teachers and parents throughout the U.S. and India as well as with projects in Europe. Her work has been published in journals such as Teachers College Record, The International Journal of Research and Method in Education, Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, Race, Ethnicity and Education and Young Children. Jennifer recently received the Outstanding Article of the Year award for her article in the Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education. In 2012, Jennifer became a Young Scholar (2012-2015) with the Foundation for Child Developmenttobetter understand how culturally-relevant types of agency in early elementary classrooms affects the social and academic development of Latino children of immigrants.


Ph.D. Anthropology and Education, Arizona State University, 2009

Emphasis: Early Childhood Education

Dissertation: Teaching Children of Immigrants: A Multi-sited Ethnographic Study of Preschool Teachers in Five U.S. Cities (Chair: Dr. Joseph Tobin)

Representative Publications

Adair, J.K. (2012). Discrimination as a Contextualized Obstacle to the Preschool Teaching of Young Latino Children of Immigrants. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood,13(3).

Adair, J.K., Tobin, J. & Arzubiaga, A. (2012). The Dilemma of Cultural Responsiveness and Professionalization: Listening Closer to Immigrant Teachers Who Teach Children of Recent Immigrants. Teachers College Record.

Adair, J.K. (2011). Advocating for Ethnographic Work in Early Childhood Federal Policy: Problems and Possibilities. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 42(4), 422-433. See also CAE's website

Adair, J.K. & Bhaskaran, L. (2010). Meditation, Rangoli and Eating on the Floor: Practices from an Urban Preschool in Bangalore, India. Young Children, 65(6), 48-55.

Adair, J.K. & Pastori, G. (2011) Developing Qualitative Coding Frameworks for Educational Research: Immigration, Education and the Children Crossing Borders Project. International Journal of Research and Method in Education, 34(1), 31-47.

Adair, J.K. (2011) Confirming Chanclas: What Early Childhood Teacher Educators Can Learn from Immigrant Preschool Teachers and their Critique of Language "Modeling" Teachniques. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education * Selected as Outstanding Article for 2011

Adair, J.K. (2008) Everywhere in Life There are Numbers: Questions for Social Justice Educators in Mathematics and Everywhere Else. Journal of Teacher Education, 59(5), 408-415.


Recent Awards

  • Young Scholar Fellowship, Foundation for Child Development - New American Children Program, 2012-2015
  • Emerging Scholar (Early Career) Award, AERA - Critical Perpsectives in ECE SIG, 2012
  • Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education Outstanding Article of 2011
  • Summer Research Assignment Fellowship, UT Austin, 2010
  • Research Fellowship, Arizona State University, 2006-2007
  • Spencer Discipline-based Scholarship, 2006
  • STEP Program Fellowship, U.S. Department of Education, 2002

Current Research Projects and Grants

Towards a Culturally Relevant Emphasis on Agency in the Social and Academic Development of Latino Children of Immigrants in PK-3 Educational Settings (PI): This proposal focuses on the types of environments and teacher behaviors that foster immigrant children’s use of agency in ways that positively affect their social and academic development. Foundation for Child Development (FCD) New American Children Young Scholarship Fellowship program 

Cultural Nature of Project-Based Instruction (PI): Pilot project on how children of immigrants and their families and teachers respond to greater classroom-based agency within project-based instruction models.

Children Crossing Borders (Researcher): This large-scale study with research teams in the U.S., Germany, Italy, France and England aims to better understand the perspectives of preschool teachers and immigrant parents regarding early childhood education. (Spencer Foundation)



Research Interests and Expertise

Immigration and early childhood education

Agency and young children

Global, comparative early childhood

Early childhood teacher education

Racial identities and young children

Impact of educational ethnography on teacher education and educational policy

Boards, Committees and Associations