Georgia Nigro


Nigro, Georgia N.

Professor Emerita

Prof. Nigro is on leave for Winter term in 2019.

Summary of Interests

  • Infant and toddler child care
  • Gender and academic achievement
  • Play-based learning in early childhood
  • Outputs, outcomes, and impacts of civic engagement


  • B.A. Brown University, 1976
  • M.S. Yale University, 1978
  • Ph.D. Cornell University, 1983

Research Interests

Much of Nigro’s research in recent years belongs under the general heading of publicly-engaged scholarship and involves collaborations that work at the intersections of research, practice, and policy:

Infant and Toddler Child Care

As a member of Maine’s National Infant & Toddler Child Care Initiative, Nigro helped draft the state’s guidelines for infant-toddler child care. She has recently co-authored a piece for the Maine Policy Review about the topic of quality in early child care. Students in one of her classes recently helped to evaluate an infant mental health training program for child care providers.

Gender and Academic Achievement

Getting boys’ perspectives on their declining academic achievement has been the focus of a large focus group study that Nigro and colleagues from around the state have been conducting for the past few years. The voices of over 600 boys have now been heard. Boys have reported that they seek good relationships with their teachers, they recognize that they can be behaviorally more challenging than girls, and they wish to be treated fairly and positively by school personnel.

Play-Based Learning in Early Childhood

Universal preschool is coming to the United States and as it does, researchers, practitioners, and policymakers are debating the importance of play in the preschool curriculum.  Students in Nigro’s lab have begun to examine 4-year-old children’s levels of the stress hormone cortisol in response to more play-based learning compared to more academic learning.

Outputs, Outcomes, and Impact of Civic Engagement

As more institutions of higher education commit to a public mission, it is important that the work they do has a positive impact on their own students and on the communities in which they reside. Demonstrating effects on students has been an ongoing interest, whereas demonstrating that the work can move from creating outputs (e.g., tutoring sessions for struggling K-12 students) to outcomes (e.g., better grades) and then to impact (e.g., higher high school graduation rates) within the community has been more challenging.

Courses Taught

  • PSYC 240 Developmental Psychology
  • PSYC 316 History of Psychology
  • PSYC 318 Community Psychology
  • PSYC 370 Psychology of Women and Gender
  • ED/PY 262 Community-Based Research Methods